NAPA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio is new to silver and black. He brought fresh perspective and what he believes is a winning philosophy that will prompt a losing culture to do an about face.
That only works if players buy in. Del Rio has gone the extra mile to ensure that happens.
“The first thing you have to do is change the mindset, the mentality, and the buy-in is a part of that,” Del Rio said. “You have to be methodic. You’re not going to operate with one vision, as one heartbeat without that, so it’s imperative that we get on the same page.”
He understands that a message is often best received from a head coach, a position of authority. In certain situations, peer pressure works best.
That’s why he created an eight-man leadership council this offseason consisting of players elected by the entire team. Del Rio said the leadership council will meet at least once a week to discuss issues and the direction of the team in an open dialogue.
“I expect that leadership council to take the message back, to step up and take that message forward in the locker room, carry the torch and hold each other accountable,” Del Rio said. “It can’t be about one guy. It can’t be about a head coach mandating that things be a certain way. We want guys to express themselves.
“We’re going to lean on leadership to make sure that the message is being carried out and that the things that we’re really all about, why we’re here, that they are being carried out.”
Some teams have leadership councils, and coaches find them an effective means of carrying a unified message, establishing a locker room police force and to secure an open line of communication between players and the coaching staff.
It’s one of several new ideas brought forth by Del Rio has he tries to get this team headed in the right direction. He has some experience with these councils, something he set up towards the end of his head coaching tenure in Jacksonville (2003-2011) and watched work when he was Denver Broncos defensive coordinator for three years.
“It’s something I’ve grown into,” Del Rio said. “I know (former Broncos head coach John Fox) did it and I saw how it can operate. I think there’s a place for it in terms of helping guys understand your thoughts on things and making sure. I think when we understand the ‘why,’ it’s a little easier to buy into the message and go at it full force with your full heart.”