When it comes down to it, head coach Jack Del Rio has the Oakland Raiders embodying an entirely different culture change, while posting the results they expected. Off to a 9-2 start, quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders have displayed a business-like mentality, which emphasizes a lack of excuses.
The Raiders have been a risky team this NFL season, as Del Rio has gone for two-point conversions and fourth down conversion attempts when maybe others wouldn’t. However, Del Rio doesn’t like to play it safe because he believes in his roster.
While the Raiders understand that they haven’t reached their peak yet, they also comprehend that something special is going on with this unit. Carr and the roster have secured their first winning season since 2002, when they last made it to the Super Bowl.
During the post game press conference, Del Rio stated that the Raiders don’t make any excuses and hold themselves liable, via Raiders.com:
“I believe that and we’re not going to accept excuses. If it didn’t finish the way it did, I wouldn’t be up here giving you any,” Del Rio said. “I think you know that about me. We’re going to man up. It was a tough set of circumstances, OK, but my belief is you don’t whine about it. You go to work. You do the best you can in the situation you find yourself in and as a football team, that’s how we’re going to do it. We bounced back, we did all of those things and found a way to battle and won the game. You know what, we’re going to get ready for Buffalo. It’s going to be a heck of a game there. It’s going to be a tough opponent. That’s what we’re going to do. That’s how we’re going to do it.”
When facing off against the Carolina Panthers, there was a stretch during the game where the Raiders were stumbling. They allowed the Panthers to score 25 unanswered points in the second half, putting them in a trailing position.
However, Del Rio collected his troops and issued a sense of comfort. The team needed to gather themselves, with an entire quarter remaining to catch up. The Raiders would then go on to score 10 consecutive points, courtesy of a Carr touchdown pass and Sebastian Janokowski field goal, to win the contest.
During this stretch, the Raiders have won five consecutive football games and still remain undefeated on the road. The lone two losses this season were early contests at home, with the Raiders winning their last three home contests (including Mexico City).
Currently atop the AFC West and tied for the best record in the AFC, the Raiders still don’t allow any time for reflection. The main goal is slowly approaching, as only five contests remain this season.
During this 2016 campaign, Carr has stood out as the vocal leader of the offense and a franchise quarterback. In the heat of the MVP race, Carr has produced continually, even after dislocating his pinky finger on Sunday (missed only one drive). No. 4 was asked about the competitive nature of the team and stated that Del Rio’s tenure inspired the change:
“I think the personality of the team is this- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, because I really believe in it and mean it, Coach Del Rio taught us how to compete last year and we learned that,” Carr stated. “This year, we’re learning how to win and what it takes. There were so many PowerPoint presentations we saw in the off-season of just little situational football- and that matters. What it takes to win in those situations, decisions you have to make during that time, I really believe in that process he created. I believe that our identity is just a team that works hard and believes in one another.”
The Raiders end a streak of four consecutive “home” games (including Mexico City) with a Sunday showdown against the 6-5 Buffalo Bills. With the Bills on the verge of playoff contention, there will surely be a battle at the Oakland Coliseum.
Del Rio has continually stated that the team Raiders will always respect their opponent, but never fear them. The team has a week to prepare, as the Raiders attempt to hit double-digit victories for the first time since 2002.