ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said there's a fine line between being really good and the disappointment his team has become.
That didn't go over well with fans – they believe it's a cavern -- but Del Rio isn't altogether wrong.
The Raiders have consistently made small mistakes that, when combined over four quarters, have produced some ugly football. The biggest problem is that it isn't one thing easily circled and corrected. It's a death from a thousand paper cuts.
"That's the difference between winning and losing -- the execution of basic plays," Del Rio said. "You get a design to get a guy free. The guy runs the right route. The quarterback throws the ball on time. It all works together. The line obviously has to give him time to get that done. All those things happen, and then you have a successful play.
"Any one of those things can throw it off. We basically have taken turns with how that is or what that is that's caused that. The bottom line is execution. That's why when you ask me, there's a lot of occasions to what I feel is like trying to defend from blaming. Things like that, a little bit here and a little bit there adds up to inefficient play and performance."
These detail-oriented issues were a problem never fixed, and ultimately colored this team inconsistent.
"They talk about habits and things like that, well, bad habits take a while to break, too," quarterback Derek Carr said. "We have to be able to address those things and really, it's simple but it's not easy. You look in the mirror and say, ‘I need to fix that,' and it takes every man in there saying, ‘This is what I need to fix and what I need to address,' as long as we don't point fingers and blame other people. We just look in the mirror and fix what we have to do and collectively we will be better going forward."
Lots of little things have bothered the Raiders and led to some big problems. The Raiders were terrible to start games They were shut out four times in the first half, and five times in the first quarter over the last seven games.
They haven't been good finishers, either. The Raiders had seven fourth-quarter comebacks last season. This year, they have one.
"We had an example last year of us going and closing games like that and winning those things," Del Rio said. "Comes down to making plays and I think the biggest difference, really in 2017 and 2016, the biggest number one thing is the turnover differential."
The Raiders were plus-16 last year, with 14 turnovers and a whopping 30 takeaways. They've trended the other way this time, with a minus-12 ratio. They have 26 giveaways and 14 takeaways with a meaningless game to go.
"It means a lot to us," Del Rio said. "It's our last opportunity to come together this group of men. Last time we'll be together. So, it's a great opportunity for us to finish the right way, come together and play well. I don't think there's any doubt that the last couple of games have been what you look for in terms of effort and energy put out. The execution gets cleaned up a little bit, it goes really well. That's what we do as a coaching staff, the number one thing for us to continue to do is build belief and to continue to work hard. That's what we're doing."