(Photos courtesy of the Oakland Raiders)
Talk of Fame Network
There have been tough tasks for Jack Del Rio before, but nothing may compare to what he’s asked to do now – namely, resurrect the Oakland Raiders and make them relevant again.
The Raiders not only haven’t been to the playoffs in 12 years. They haven’t had a single winning season in 12 years. Worse, in that time, they’ve run through seven head coaches (Del Rio's the eighth) and 19 starting quarterbacks, none of whom put them back on the map.
But that’s Del Rio’s job, and on the Talk of Fame Network's latest broadcast he said he’s up to the task – particularly when it comes to bottling the “mystique” once associated with an organization that lived by the words “Commitment to Excellence.”
“I think we can recreate it,” he said of the mystique. “I think the ‘Raider mystique’ is a little bit about the fear not only the opponents of the upcoming team but (of) the fans in the city. They knew what kind of physical beating their team was about to experience.
“The Raiders at their best were physical and fundamentally sound. And they did it with a lot of different types of guys, a lot of personality and a lot of swagger. But at the core of what they were really about … they were really physical.”
They also had quality quarterbacks. Think back to when the Raiders last were in the playoffs. They were led by Rich Gannon, who was a league MVP. When they won Super Bowls they had luminaries like Jim Plunkett and Ken Stabler. And now … well, now they have a promising young quarterback in second-year pro Derek Carr.
”Is he special?” Del Rio asked. “I think he has a lot of qualities that give him an opportunity to be special. I think you have to grow into ‘special’ by your performance, but he has a lot of the traits that give him an opportunity to be special. He’s a bright guy. He’s got that natural leadership ability. He’s very competitive, very fiery. He is accurate. He is a good decision maker. So we want to give him every opportunity.
“We’re going to run the ball, first of all. They couldn’t run the ball last year and that’s a problem. For any quarterback the ability to play good defense and be able to run the ball and not put the onus on him to do it all by himself (is crucial). Do I think he has a chance? Absolutely he has a chance.”
And so do the Raiders if Del Rio can change a culture of losing that had the team winning 11 games the past three seasons.
“In the background you may hear the bulldozers going by,” he said, “because they’re redoing our fields now as we speak. We’re building a new weight and strength/conditioning building right now and doing a steam room. So the facilities are being upgraded, and all those types of things needed to happen.
“Most importantly, we’re creating a very positive, high-performance environment where our guys come to work every day, and they’re excited about coming in the doors. From nutrition, to conditioning, to the way we meet, the way we compete every day … everything we’re doing has a purpose. So there is a culture we’re establishing I believe in, and our guys are very excited to be a part of right now.”