Predicting the Oakland Raiders’ Identity Under Jack Del Rio

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Jan 16, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Jack Del Rio (right) poses with Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie at press conference to announce his hiring as Raiders head coach at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While players are most important, every great football organization is built from the top down. That is because the first thing GM’s and owners need to know is what type team they want to have. From there, they bring in coaches and players that fit whatever the vision is for the team to be molded after.

Then from 2002-2010, deceased owner Al Davis never could find a coach that shared his vision. So while missing on high draft picks, the Raiders’s dabbled with short passing and small, zone-blocking lineman, none of which Davis liked. Then with the hiring of Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator and eventually head coach, the building was unified.

Davis was a believer in the vertical game and Jackson learned that under Al Saunders in his time with the Baltimore Ravens. Then of course, there’s the power-running game and Jackson always referred to his time with the Raiders as “building a bully.”

But they only went 8-8 for the two years Jackson was there because they only had half of the recipe. The other half is a good, physical defense and when they were one win away from the playoffs, the defense let them down. Then exit Davis through his death and enter his son Mark Davis, GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen.

The new group struggled with identity again going back and forth with zone-blocking just like Al (Davis), and adjusting the roster to fit it. McKenzie then forced a switch back to the power scheme but power didn’t just turn back on plus the defense was still horrible.

Now, Allen is out and in comes Jack Del Rio, from nearby Hayward and a life-long Raiders fan who knows the identity of the franchise well. Del Rio appears to have every intention of bringing the Raiders back to greatness in the Raider way. He was an inside linebacker in the NFL himself so you know he believes in smash-mouth football, something McKenzie and Davis also believe in.

On offense, it’s the power-running game and like every team that runs the ball well, they throw it deep. On defense, Del Rio believes in stopping the run first then getting after the opposing quarterback. So Del Rio is bringing a new identity, which is the Raiders old identity and there are three main players that will bring it to the fore.

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