When a team is able to reach success and have room for improvement, their perspective around the league changes. The Oakland Raiders, who have underachieved the past decade, had to work hard to escape their label amongst the lower-tier teams.
However, head coach Jack Del Rio and general manager Reggie McKenzie have embarked on a return to greatness. After a successful first season, Del Rio and his roster took a huge leap in his second season. Upon securing a playoff birth and a 12-4 record, Del Rio still stated that their was room for improvement.
Throughout the regular season, Del Rio was insistent on a business-like mentality, stating that success comes when an entire team buys into a program and system. The Raiders did just that, as the veterans of the team gave insight to the young players, while always deferring to the leaders of the roster.
The organization went through on overhaul, compared to the reputation past Raiders team had. Each week, the Raiders respected their opponent, but never feared anyone. Their preparation was evident, as Del Rio’s unit was able to overcome multiple close game scenarios to capture victories.
Del Rio was asked about the results the 2016 brought, stating that the organization still has higher aspirations moving forward, via Raiders.com:
“There’s been a great deal accomplished, there’s no question about that. Is it enough? No. I want more. We want more. As an organization, our goals are higher. So, that’s not going to change. We’re not going to pretend that it wasn’t really good. You win 12 games, that’s hard to do in this league. We won six in a row at one stretch and never really had back-to-back losses prior to yesterday. A lot of really good things were going on and are going on. We want to build on those. Recognize where we need to be better, and there’s several areas where we must be better in. Just kind of own up to it and roll up our sleeves and get busy.”
When taking a look at his comments, a person would appreciate the approach Del Rio has for his team. Even after the most successful season in perhaps 14 years, the attitude to expect more and want more from your team is always desired. Although this season may be viewed as a success for the organization, Derek Carr and the players still have unfinished business to take care of.
After the Wild Card game was complete, Carr posted on Twitter that he has never felt as motivated to start his rehab process and get back on the field. The encouraging thoughts leave a ground work for the next season, as the roster, filled with seven Pro Bowl players, understands that only a Super Bowl ring would bring a complete result.
Del Rio took a second to ponder the offseason, as big decisions await them. The contract situations for Carr and Khalil Mack will obviously take precedence, but the organization still have many other players to ponder over. When asked about the process, Del Rio said that it’ll start with collaboration between he and McKenzie:
“I think the first part in that process is to evaluate the roster real thoroughly. We’ll begin that process now as a staff, meet with [General Manager] Reggie [McKenzie] and his people. Reggie and I will talk it through and that’s kind of how we do it. We’ll have decisions to make. I’m sure we’ll want to keep as much of the nucleus. We have a good, young nucleus of players here. We want to keep as much of that nucleus intact as possible. That will be the plan going forward.”
Already boasting the highest paid offensive line in the NFL, the Raiders will surely have to make some tough decisions regarding bringing back certain players for the 2017 season.
The offseason will be a measuring stick for the organization, as they attempt to put together the right pieces to continue off the momentum they already established.