The success Jack Del Rio and the Oakland Raiders have had this season has come through determination and hard work. The head coach has instilled a winning culture of sorts amongst this team, while veterans such as offensive tackle Donald Penn have provided veteran leadership.
The Raiders had a notable outing just before the bye week, with a primetime victory against the Denver Broncos in order to gain sole possession of the AFC West lead.
During their Week 10 bye week, quarterback Derek Carr relaxed and scouted his opponents, while Del Rio was preparing his team for the showdown in Mexico City against the Houston Texans.
Penn and the offense line have been masterful this season, allowing only 11 sacks through nine games this season. Del Rio has implemented a six-man offensive line at times, trying to provide maximum protection for their franchise quarterback.
The 10-year veteran appeared on many NFL talk shows these past few days, with a certain stop at The Herd With Colin Cowherd. When asked if the Raiders have maximized their potential this season, Penn gave an optimistic response:
“I think we haven’t gotten there yet. You know, I think we still are a long way from there. We feel good, we love where we are at right now, but we haven’t played our best. We haven’t played a complete game, offense, defense and special teams at once. We were close against Denver. We were close and it felt good, but we still haven’t reached our full potential yet. We know that and we’re working hard to get there.
The wise words from Penn coincide with what other teammates have said in that this 2016 roster has a special factor about themselves.
Carr has credited coach Del Rio for implementing the culture change amongst the team, as the roster now expects to win games and have continued success.
The offensive line has been a catalyst for Latavius Murray and the rookie running backs, while allowing a league-low 1.22 sacks per game. For reference, the Washington Redskins rank second, allowing 1.33 sacks per game.
Penn also has been rewarded for his protection amongst the line, as he was the recipient of a one-yard touchdown catch during their Week 8 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The one-time Pro Bowler and his line will face off against a tough Texans defense on Monday Night Football, but will be prepared to extend their winning streak to four games.