ALAMEDA –- Coaches generally use condensed game tape as a teaching tool; cut-ups that focus on the plays themselves. Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver asked the team’s video department to let the film go a bit longer after big plays to illustrate a central point.
The Raiders defense wasn’t having enough fun when things went right.
“The collection of guys that we started this year (with) really didn’t celebrate together,” Tarver said after Thursday’s practice. "One of the things we did as coaches is we cut out before and after the play and watched them. There might be a good play, but everybody turned around and walks back to the huddle. That’s not defense. That’s not the Raiders.”
He didn’t see post-play exuberance that frequently follows big defensive moments. Tarver wanted more of that. He wanted energy and excitement. He wanted the Raiders to have fun playing together.
Early on, there wasn’t much fun to be had. You’ve seen that more often in recent games because the defense is playing better.
“Celebrating together and working together with that like kind of passion, that’s defensive football,” Tarver said. “We’ve grown a lot. We’ve improved in that area. Guys are working together and enjoying when another guy makes a play, and helping each other make the play is a big deal. You can see that. As we’ve gotten better, more and more people have hit quarterbacks, more and more people are making plays on the ball. That’s what happens. It becomes contagious and that’s where we want to go. We need to stay in that. We need to keep going.”
The Raiders have allowed 20 points or less in three of the last four games, save a 52-0 stinker in St. Louis. Run defense was improved in those three games. So was third-down defense. And, winning two of the last three doesn’t hurt team morale.
The Raiders are trying to find the line between energy and excess. Play hard, play fast and play with energy. That’s good, as long as there’s no taunting, excessive force or unsportsmanlike conduct.
“You have to learn how to play on that edge, where within the time of the play –- until the ball is on the ground -– give everything you got, and then to pull it back at the end of the play, take a deep breath and go to it again,” Tarver said. “Young guys have to learn how to do that. I think some of our players know how to do that. Others are right in the middle of learning how to do that, and every man is different.”
It’s become a topic after the Raiders and 49ers were seeing jawing back and forth on Sunday, especially with a heated rivalry game with Kansas City on the immediate horizon.
Trash talk isn’t the objective. The Raiders want passion, energy and togetherness plain for all to see when they play defense.
“I want to see some genuine emotion,” Tarver said. “I want Miles (Burris) to be happy for Sio (Moore) when he makes a play. I want (Justin) Tuck to be happy for everybody to make a play. We’re going to enjoy playing football together, and you can see the improvement. This group of young men, I think they are learning how to play this game the right way, which is full of passion, and to play it together.”