Jack Del Rio Wants Oakland Raiders Mystique to Return


May 8, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio at rookie minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It has become a time honored tradition for newly hired coaches for the Oakland Raiders to talk about restoring the history of a once proud franchise that has come upon hard times since Jon Gruden (and for one season, Bill Callahan) were running things on the sidelines. A long list of coaches trying to bring back the days of the Raiders being one of the most feared teams in the league, but each of those coaches all failing to do so in over a decade of futility in Oakland.

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Now a childhood fan of the Raiders in Jack Del Rio is the next man in line to take on the job of trying to finish the rebuilding process in Oakland, a job that he is more than qualified for after leading small market Jacksonville to postseason success before taking a defensive coordinator job with the Denver Broncos in recent years. A former player and proven coach giving the Raiders their best head coach since Hue Jackson guided the team to an 8-8 season.

Knowing the Raiders background by growing up in North California and playing in the NFL as a linebacker, Del Rio wants to bring toughness to the team that has decidedly lacked in that department in recent years. Wanting to turn around a rebuilding team into one that is a tough team to play every week of the schedule, something that appeared to be slowly happening at the end of 2014 when the young Raiders roster won their final three home games against teams that were over the .500 mark at the time.

Now Del Rio wants to finish the job, bringing back the Raiders mystique by building a physical football team that won’t be fun to play against.

“I was asked the other day about the Raiders mystique,” Del Rio said this past week in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, via CSN California. “Let me tell you what the mystique was. It was people knowing they were going to get pounded when they played the Raiders. There was fear developed through physical play of this football team. We want to bring that physicality back.”

Despite wanting to bring physicality back to Oakland, Del Rio made it clear that doesn’t mean taking penalties. A cliched reputation that has followed the Raiders for the entirety of the franchise’s history.

“We want to bring swagger back, but it has to be controlled, calculated and fundamentally sound,” Del Rio said. “It has to lead to winning football. It’s not the kind where you’re drawing penalties and playing sloppy and undisciplined.”

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Del Rio is a head coach who knows what he is doing, building teams that were short on superstar names but long on hardworking players back in Jacksonville when the Jaguars saw periods of success despite limited rosters. Now the challenge is doing the same in Oakland on a team that has some potential future stars and perhaps the best quarterback prospect the defensive minded head coach has had at his disposal in Derek Carr which could make Del Rio’s second head coaching stop just as successful as his first was with the Jaguars.

It appears Del Rio’s focus is going to be first on building a team with a nasty mentality before anything else, something that may just be the right way to go about things as the Raiders will be looking to embody the underdog spirit as the team many will be picking to finish last in the AFC West. If the 2015 season is going to be a success the Raiders are going to have to find an edge to accomplish what they want to accomplish, and that edge is more than likely finding a physicality advantage. If Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. can develop that mentality, the Raiders could surprise the league this season.