ALAMEDA -- The Raiders seemed to wear the weight of responsibility after the guillotine fell on former head coach Dennis Allen, but on the heels their first team meeting with interim head coach Tony Sparano, there was optimism in the 0-4 locker room.
Five-year veteran Austin Howard played for the New York Jets in 2012 while Sparano served as the offensive coordinator, and he’s looking forward to turning the page after four days off for the Raiders' bye.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve had in my career,” Howard said of Sparano. “The guy really understands how to get the players motivated, get us all on the same page. He knows how to win games.”
Sparano on Tuesday promised a coaching philosophy that differed from Allen’s, and said he planned to reveal it to his players in Wednesday’s meeting.
Those players were reluctant to divulge details, though we’ll likely learn more about the promised changes when Sparano is expected to speak following his first practice at the helm this coming Monday.
“Coach (Sparano) is about his business,” said Usama Young, who won a Super Bowl with Dennis Allen in New Orleans. “And we’re ready to follow. That’s the brunt of it.”
Upstart receiver Andre Holmes, who has 11 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown through four games, cited Sparano’s strong communication and ability to get the most out of players when asked about his new coach.
“You gotta take some accountability and we are,” Holmes said. “We have to do things to change how we’re playing and change our record.”
A coaching change can provide a spark, but at some point, it’s the players on the field who have to break through and deliver in “winning time” by making big plays with the game on the line.
“We got some things that we got to fix,” Young said. “That’s what we plan on doing.”
The team appears united in its commitment to Sparano’s new plans, whatever they turn out to be.
“You have to move forward,” starting quarterback Derek Carr said. “I’m in full support of coach Sparano, and I look forward to playing under him now.”
For the Raiders and their rookie quarterback still without his first win, it’s all about notching that first victory.
“As soon as we taste — and we will — what it feels like to win,” Sparano said, “that’s how change happens.”