INDIANAPOLIS -- Jack Del Rio is not a patient man. It takes time to build an empire, but the Raiders’ new head coach won’t use that as an excuse for poor play.
Del Rio wants to compete right away. He believes the Raiders can do that, even in a stacked AFC West.
“I’m promising that that’s our goal,” Del Rio said while at the NFL Scouting Combine. “I’m not getting in to try to predict the record. I’m just telling you that I expect us to play good football this fall.”
Del Rio likes the young foundation on his current roster, but understands the Raiders must have a solid offseason to be a competitive team and fare better than they have -- tallying 11 wins over the past three seasons.
That includes productive acquisitions in the draft and free agency. He’ll have significant input into general manager Reggie McKenzie’s molding of the 2015 roster.
Both men are in lockstep on one obvious premise. The Raiders need more talent, and they need to play better.
“There is not a position on our roster that we don’t need to improve the play of,” Del Rio said. “That includes our top-flight quarterback (Derek Carr). That includes our pass-rushing outside linebacker (Khalil Mack). They have to play better. Everyone does. That’s the way I’m looking at it.”
Del Rio has some convenient excuses at his disposal for why the Raiders could struggle in 2015. It’s his first season in Oakland, and it takes time to acquire talent and teach a long-struggling team how to win close games. It’s impressive that Del Rio isn’t taking the bait. He’s going to demand excellence at the outset and refuses to set limits on his group despite recent struggles.
He had no interest in dissecting where previous regimes went wrong, choosing instead to focus on what he considers a bright future ahead.
“I’m really not spending a whole lot of time worrying about what was, I’m really focused on what needs to be going forward,” Del Rio said. “I’m very excited about what I think is a very strong staff that I was able to put together. I’m thankful that we were able to go get good people and that they were excited about being a part of our effort there. I think it starts there. We brought in guys that are great teachers with a lot of energy. I think that is what we need.
“We’re going to have a very competitive mentality throughout our organization and everything we’re doing. We want to make sure that we’re competing to be the very best. The goal from Day 1 is to win the division. … Everything we’re about, every decision that we make is about can that help us win our division? Once you accomplish that, then you can talk about other goals but goal No. 1 has to be that.”