With wins come levity for Raiders head coach Del Rio
By Tom FitzGerald September 28, 2015 Updated: September 28, 2015 8:33pmThe Raiders, who had had no sacks, hounded Josh McCown, who went down behind the line of scrimmage five times. Photo: Ed Suba Jr., McClatchy-Tribune News Service Photo: Ed Suba Jr., McClatchy-Tribune News Service The Raiders, who had had no sacks, hounded Josh McCown, who went down behind the line of scrimmage five times.
His Raiders have broken their long drought on the road. They have a strong young quarterback, one of the rising-star receivers in the NFL, a strong pass rush and a defense that looks solid against the run.
Head coach Jack Del Rio was feeling buoyant enough Monday to crack a joke about his team’s difficulties in covering tight ends.
“We’ll try to remove the cloaking device that they have,” he said. “Somehow, they’re going downfield without us being able to see them.”
Oakland (2-1), 2-22 on the road since 2012 before traveling to Cleveland, held the Browns to 39 yards rushing in Sunday’s 27-20 win.
“We’re going to be good against the run,” Del Rio said. “I think we’ve got a real good front. It will be hard for people to run it on us.”
He said he thought the defense gave “a glimpse” Sunday of what it could be over the long haul. “We just know we have a lot of work to do to clean up some of the silly things that are keeping us from playing at a higher level,” he said.
The Raiders travel again next weekend to play the Bears (0-3), who are staggering after being blanked by the Seahawks 26-0. Chicago probably again will go with Jimmy Clausen at quarterback, unless Jay Cutler has recovered from his hamstring injury. Chicago has won only once in Cutler’s 15 missed starts since he joined the team in 2009.
The Raiders, on the other hand, have an efficient young quarterback in Derek Carr, who has been particularly effective in the red zone in his two NFL seasons.
In such situations, “it comes down to good decisions and accuracy,” Del Rio said. “Those are two areas where he’s very solid.”
The weekly Amari Cooper highlight reel continued with eight catches for 134 yards, many of them against Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden. Cooper became the first Raiders rookie with at least 100 receiving yards in back-to-back games since James Jett in 1993 and the first Oakland player to do it since Randy Moss in 2005.
Cooper has 290 receiving yards, giving him the third-most yards by an NFL rookie through his first three games. Only Anquan Boldin, with 378 in 2003, and Louis Lipps, 337 in 1984, had more.
“I like watching (Cooper) after the catch,” Carr said after the game. “He's a home run waiting to happen.”
As a punt returner, Cooper probably needs a little work. Getting his first crack at the job, he took one back 9 yards. The second punt was more of an adventure. He lost 9 yards after fielding it on a bounce, then going in the wrong direction while trying to break free. He didn’t return punts at Alabama.
The Raiders will put him back there again occasionally, Del Rio said. He’ll “be able to do some things in space, provided we give him the opportunity with some blocking.”
With strong safety Nate Allen out until midseason with a knee injury, Del Rio was noncommittal on whether TJ Carrie would continue there or be moved back to cornerback.
Newcomer David Amerson did well in his 34 snaps at corner, Del Rio said. “He’s got some size, speed and athleticism that we covet,” he said. “We’ll continue to bring him along.”
Briefly: The club released cornerback Chimdi Chekwa and offensive tackle Anthony Morris from the reserve/injured list. Morris was a seventh-round pick this year.