Two games, two late-game collapses, and interim defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli insists he’s staying the course and not focused on what the future may bring with the Raiders.
Marinelli took over the Raiders defense when coach Jon Gruden fired Paul Guenther on Dec. 14, the day after a 44-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
While the Raiders have played harder and more effectively in spurts, the end game has been a disaster.
A 26-25 loss to the Miami Dolphins ended with a blown coverage and a defensive penalty with 19 seconds to play which turned an apparent win into a gut punch loss. In Marinelli’s first game as coordinator, against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders opened overtime with a field goal and the Chargers drove down the field and scored a touchdown for the win.
Both games included coverage breakdowns in the secondary when it mattered most.
While Marinelli will correct players forcefully in team settings, his public stance is to focus on the group.
“It’s always been the same, it’s player and coach. It’s coach and player. We’re the teachers,” Marinelli said. “They reflect us at the end of the day, so it’s not one guy in it, it’s all of us in it. So, we got to go back and correct our teaching, all the things we’re asking them to do, having the right person in the game at that time. So, it comes down to that and then you watch it on tape, and we make the corrections and then you move forward. And just what we did.”
Marinelli insisted he’s seen progress with a “less is more” approach.
“I love the intensity they’re playing with; their hitting has picked up,” Marinell said. “It’s really clear what they have to do and so I’ve just cut things down. That’s who I am. I cut things back a little bit and lets really get good at a few things, and I think it’s really starting to show. The rush came pretty well, our pressures. I thought some coverages were good, so my goal now is we’re just going to keep growing this week.”
Changes in the defensive staff are assured given the way the unit has played all season. Given Marinelli’s standing with coach Jon Gruden, it’s likely he’ll be back as defensive line coach if not as coordinator.
“I just let things go as they go. That’s always been me,” Marinelli said. “I love being with these guys. I love seeing them grow and I’ll just leave it at that.”
Crosby’s sophomore slump
Defensive end Maxx Crosby had his last sack on Nov. 15 on Nov. 6, after which the Raiders celebrated a 37-12 win and a 6-3 record. It was Crosby’s sixth of the season and he looked on pace to put up double digits again after a 10-sack rookie season.
Instead, Crosby has been blanked and the Raiders have lost five out of six as they face the Broncos again to close out the season. Rod Marinelli, who was Crosby’s position coach before taking over as interim defensive said he’s not disappointed.
“Just some detail things, especially off the edge,” Marinelli said. “Sometimes a little too deep, getting by the quarterback, getting counter moves. But you can’t coach a better guy that’s hungrier. Shows up every day hungry, the look in his eye. He’s gotten a little more attention this year with some chips on him. But there is no ceiling to Maxx. I believe he’s going to get better and better and it’s important to finish correctly.”
Gabe Jackson stumps for Denzelle Good
Raiders guard Gabe Jackson is gratified to make it through the season after injuries took away eight games in 2018-19, but he was more interest in campaigning for teammate Denzelle Good during his video conference than he was talking about himself.
“Denzelle Good for president!,” Jackson said at the close of his call. “Back up the Brinks truck! Pay the man!”
Good’s one-year contract was for $1.8 million in salary according to overthecap.com but he could make more through playing incentives. Although he missed practice with an ankle injury and is unlikely to face Denver, Good played in 15 games with 14 starts, subbing for Trent Brown at right tackle early in the season before stepping in for Richie Incognito for the duration. He was originally slated to be the swing guard behind Incognito and Jackson.
Waller receives Craig Long Award
Tight end Darren Waller is the first two-time winner of the Craig Long Award, voted upon by media members who cover the team regularly to the player who best exemplifies collaboration and professionalism with the media.
Waller has recounted his own battled with drug and alcohol addiction with members of the press several times in the past two years. He has been a frequent interview subject for group media conferences which are screened by the club with no locker room access for the media during the coronavirus pandemic.
Long was a former Raiders media relations staffer who passed away in 2007 at the age of 36.
— Trent Brown (thigh), Good and Lamarcus Joyner (thigh) missed practice for the second straight day, along with defensive end Chris Smith (illness).
Jackson (knee) and Rodney Hudson (back/knee), who were rested Wednesday, were limited Thursday. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf) was limited Thursday after sitting out the previous day.