The Raiders are an NFL franchise steeped in tradition. They’ve won three Super Bowls and played in five. They have Hall-of-Famers aplenty throughout the course of a largely successful stint in the NFL.
The Silver and Black’s recent past is a dark period, pocked by 12 straight non-winning seasons heading into 2015.
New head coach Jack Del Rio wants to make a clean break from those struggles. When things go wrong on the practice field or the team gets in a rut, Del Rio insists they stop playing like the “old Raiders.”
He’s trying to build a new mindset that helps the Raiders get on the winning track.
“I want to paint the picture for how we want it to look and what we want it to be and where we’re going and how we can get there, and focus more on the doing and the positive and how we can get there, and less on making contrasts or pointing out something that was in the past,” Del Rio said last week. “That’s not a part of who we are right now. We’re going forward. We understand the work that needs to be put in, and so we’re full speed ahead.
“I know these guys really want to win. They’re willing to work, and we need to paint a picture and show them how to get there.”
Del Rio’s players have bought into this forward-thinking mentality, especially those who suffered through a 3-13 campaign that started with 10 straight losses. They long for something different after struggling to find success in recent seasons.
“The mindset would focus on playing hard-nosed football,” left tackle Donald Penn said. “We want to be a physical football team, but smart at the same time. We don’t want to be out there hurting ourselves with penalties and stuff, but we are going to be a physical, tough team. I think Jack brings that. Coach (Mike) Tice brings that too. We have a big, strong offensive line, so we want to impose our will this year. We did at times last year, but that’s what we’re working so hard on – we need to do it on a consistent basis. That’s the plan going out.”
Del Rio is trying to eliminate bad habits and teach his players how to win again.
“Anytime [when] something goes bad, you go, ‘Oh, here we go again,’” Penn said. “We’re not doing that, ‘Here we go again.’ We’re starting new, we’re starting fresh, and we’re starting to get better. When stuff goes bad, he wants to make sure people are not saying, ‘Here we go again.’ We’re not doing that. We’re not taking any steps back. We’re trying to take steps forward. So I think that’s a big thing that he’s trying to get across to the young guys and to the older guys.
“This is a new way. Follow his lead. I trust in him.“