NFL Wire News

Raiders out to end road trip hex


The Sports Xchange

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Head coach Jack Del Rio takes the Oakland Raiders to the road, which has been an unkind place to all things silver and black since Reggie McKenzie took over as general manager in 2012.

When the Raiders visit the Cleveland Browns Sunday, they so do with an 11-game losing streak away from home, and that doesn’t include a one-sided neutral-site loss in London last season to the Miami Dolphins.

Oakland’s last road win was on Nov. 13, at Houston (28-23). Before that, it was Oct. 28, 2012 at Kansas City (26-16). Not a happy team on the road.

Both the Texans in 2013 and the Chiefs in 2012 ended the season 2-14, so it’s not as if the Raiders were knocking off the big dogs.

Del Rio is well aware of the Raiders’ 2-22 record — as well as a 16-game losing streak in Eastern time zone games (10 a.m. on the West Coast) that dates back to a 27-24 win over Pittsburgh on Dec. 6, 2009.

It’s just that he’s not interested in tying anything to do with the current Raiders to what has gone in since 2003 when the franchise has fallen upon disrepair and failed to have a winning season.

The Raiders opened the season 1-1, with a 33-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals and a 37-33 win over the Baltimore Ravens. It was the first time the Raiders opened the season with back-to-back home games since 1969 when John Madden was in his first year as head coach.

Yet given the next two opponents are the Browns and Chicago Bears, two teams having issues at quarterback while the Raiders are getting encouraging play from Derek Carr, the possibility exists for some momentum even if it is gained away from home.

“You have to travel well,” Del Rio said. “It has to be business-like in your approach. You’re not going to entertain family and friends. You’re going really with the mission to put all of your energies toward that game.”

While short on specifics, Del Rio said “how we travel is important. We’ll do that and bring the kind of attention you need to have when you go on the road. It’s an us-against-them mentality.”

Del Rio even stole a line from Bill Belichick with regard to taking a home crowd out of the game.

“We’ll let them be as loud as we let them be,” Del Rio said, crediting Belichick. “That’s really what happens when you go to an opposing place.”

Raiders players followed Del Rio’s lead, and talked of the need to get off to a good start, avoid penalties and turnovers — things that also translate well at home.

Carr, 0-8 as a starter on the road last year, wants to get his first win but isn’t tying it to the 2014 experience.

“Like coach has been saying, this team hasn’t played on the road yet,” Carr said. “It’s a new challenge for us, a new excitement. We saw what it takes to win in this league against a good team, the effort it takes all week, in the film room all week. As long as we can take that, we just have to fly somewhere to play the game.”

–Although the Raiders averaged 5.1 yards per rush against Baltimore and the lone “sack” was allowed when Carr ran out of bounds for no gain on a bootleg, right tackle Austin Howard sees lots of room for improvement. Howard played right guard last season, but became the starting right tackle this year when Menelik Watson was lost for the season to an Achilles’ tear in preseason.

“We did a good job preparing for that test, and I thought we executed well as a front,” Howard said. “You have to build on what you’ve done and get better. Things went well for us, but it was far from a perfect game. There’s plenty of work to do, but I think we’re going to get better and better every week.”

Note: Cornerback David Amerson, a second-round draft pick in 2013, was claimed off waivers from the Washington Redskins. … Safety Tevin McDonald, promoted to the practice squad before the Week 2 win over Baltimore, was waived. … Defensive tackle Justin Ellis, who missed the Baltimore game with an ankle injury, did not participate in practice Wednesday. … Safety Charles Woodson, who played the entirety of the Ravens game with a dislocated shoulder, did not practice. … Defensive end Justin Tuck (knee) did not practice. … Fullback Jamize Olawale (ankle) was limited.

About The Sports Xchange

Since 1987, the Sports Xchange has been the best source of information and analysis for the top professionals in the sports publishing & information business