Editor’s note: Scott Bair is in Indianapolis to cover the NFL Combine. Check back for his comprehensive coverage and catch his nightly updates on SportsNet Central.
INDIANAPOLIS –- Before Jack Del Rio became head coach last year, the Raiders were plain awful on the road. The Silver and Black were 2-22 in three previous seasons entering last year’s campaign, including a 38-14 thrashing by Miami in London that ultimately got Dennis Allen fired.
The Silver and Black went 4-4 in Del Rio’s first year at the helm, and is part of the reason why they were confident about exchanging a 2016 home game for another international contest.
The Raiders will play the Houston Texans in Mexico City on “Monday Night Football,” an opportunity that could help the Raiders brand but possibly hurt the team’s on-field performance.
Del Rio knows playing in Mexico City’s extreme altitude and unwelcome pollution isn’t ideal, but believes his team can handle the extra stress.
“For me, playing in Mexico City represents a challenge,” Del Rio said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We’re going to play an additional game out on the road and in that altitude. The good part is that I feel very good about our ability to travel. I feel good about the strength staff led by Joe Gomes and the way we approach games before and after and how we recover.
“It’ll give us an opportunity to rise to a challenge. In terms of exposure and going down there and representing the Raiders, I think we’ll do a good job of that.”
Del Rio also enters another season that could be the last in Oakland and he, as always, insists the possibility of relocation doesn’t concern him.
“It’s very similar to last year for me. I got up here last year and said the same things,” Del Rio said. “Obviously some things transpired, but the reality is that (owner Mark Davis) would prefer to be in Oakland. He has maintained that. I know there are other things that have to be looked at from a business standpoint.
"For me, I’m from (the Oakland area) and am excited to be coaching that team. I’m looking forward to this year and am hoping the future will be resolved shortly.”