The Raiders are applying a new, silver and black coat of paint to their Alameda practice facility. It’s one of several changes being made in these parts, though the rest aren’t so cosmetic.
There’s a new coaching staff led by Jack Del Rio. There are new players in key roles, new offensive and defensive schemes. There are facility upgrades in the works.
It’s all part of an attempted culture change Del Rio hopes can get the team back on a winning track. Some of that is a mindset. Some of it is scheme and talent. A large part of it is purely physical.
Enter Joe Gomes, new Raiders strength and conditioning coach. He was hired to modernize the team’s physical preparedness with a new-school approach that combines nutrition, proper sleep, body monitoring, physical therapy and, of course, a strength program.
Does that sound complicated? It is. Does it work? You bet.
Del Rio knows from experience. He hired Luke Richardson as strength coach in Jacksonville, and brought him to Denver after being named Broncos defensive coordinator. Richardson stayed in Denver this offseason when Del Rio was named Raiders head coach, but he recommended Gomes follow him to Oakland.
Richardson and Gomes share training philosophies popularized by EXOS (formerly Athlete’s Performance), a training hub that prepares athletes for major competition. The center remains a popular destination for players preparing for the NFL Scouting Combine.
“They’re cutting edge in terms of innovation,” Del Rio said. “They’re cutting edge in terms of understanding of some of the things that we need to do to give our football team a chance to be at its healthiest, at its most fit, at its peak, at its ability to be at a peak come Sundays and sort of the timing of bringing it all together is such where we can maximize what our players have.”
Gomes and his three man staff are set on doing that.
How, exactly? Gomes won’t provide trade secrets. He’s keeping most details to himself, though a few basics are clear. Gomes’ staff will have a major say in team nutrition – which could mean less Kinder’s BBQ -- including when and what players eat. Sleep patterns will be closely monitored. So will player reaction to training sessions. And, with so many body types required to complete a football team, this 24-hour approach will be tailored to the individual.
“It has to be an individual approach to get the most from the athlete,” Gomes said. “We have a good understanding of the demands of the game. You evaluate the individual and build that map to reach their true potential.
“We’re building the racecar for the race, and we’re looking for players to excel at their position on the field.”
Fans who ultimately want a better racecar care about performance on the field, less about the process of getting there. Gomes is extremely confident that positive results will come from his system, that injury prevention and rehab improved by creating “an optimal healing environment,” and that players will operate at peak levels on game day.
“We look at this as a performance system,” Gomes said. “From the evaluation to the training to the nutrition to the monitoring, we want to make sure we do everything we can to support a player’s on-field performance. There isn’t a leaf we won’t look under to help these guys.”