Notable quotes from Jack Del Rio and other members of the Oakland Raiders, following the win in Week 5 against the San Diego Chargers.
The Raiders are 4-1 and tied with the Broncos for first place in the AFC West. This team hasn’t been this good in the standings after five games since 2002, the year they last went to the playoffs.
Life is good in Oakland from a football perspective for the first time in a long time. This team believes it can win every week and then goes out and does it, no matter what adversity they face on the field.
Although the defense has improved over the last few weeks, it still has a long way to go to catch up to the offense, which is humming along nicely for the most part.
The biggest difference in Oakland this year? The culture change Jack Del Rio has fostered and the buy-in from the players. It starts at the top and trickles down, and with Del Rio and Derek Carr leading the way, this team is really forging an identity of toughness and guts.
Just listen. They’ll tell you themselves.
Raiders in Winning Time
The Raiders used to fold faster than Superman on laundry day in close contests. If a game was close, they’d inevitably find a way to screw it up and lose. Kind of like this year’s San Diego Chargers. As Radiohead once sang, “You do it to yourself, you do. And that’s what really hurts.”
Okay now that I’ve aged myself with pop culture references, let’s hear what this newfound Raiders squad thinks when things get down to crunch time. It’s got a real family feel.
"“You already know what time it is,” said receiver Michael Crabtree to Michael Silver of NFL.com in reference to going all out for the win and taking risks. “You already know about Coach. He believes in us, so we’ve got to have his back. It all goes together. We take care of each other.”"
This year’s theme of trust continues to pervade, and this time it was the trust in himself that allowed QB Derek Carr to make a bold call on 4th and 2 at a critical juncture of the game.
"“That’s one Coach (Musgrave) will be a little upset at me for,” Carr acknowledged. “He wanted a slant. I wanted him to go deep. I just felt it. I’m sure when he saw that ball leave my hand, he was like, ‘what were you thinking?!?’”"
When talking about Carr’s gutsy audible after the game, Musgrave sounded like a parent who knows his kids will stress him out. But they’re good kids and will be successful so he lets it go.
"“We’d already thrown two or three fades out of bounds,” Musgrave explained as to why he didn’t want to try it again. “Oh well, he’s the man on the field. You’ve just gotta go with it.”"
Del Rio himself went through a range of emotions but ultimately felt like his QB made the right choice. No surprise from “Black” Jack Del Rio, riverboat gambler extraordinaire.
"“It was like, ‘no, no, no…yeaaaahhhhh,’ said Del Rio, laughing. “At the end of the day, I really felt like it was the right thing to do.”"
That goes with the team’s new attitude in winning time. We can win, we will win. So let’s win. Having a coach who’s all in on the philosophy whether it works or not – happy to take praise when it’s good, happy to accept blame when it’s not – helps immensely.
"“I’m not going to be reckless, but I’ll look for opportunities to do the right thing,” Del Rio explained. “I honestly feel like there are times when [being aggressive] is the right thing to do for my team, and you have to be willing to put yourself out there, to have the courage to do what you know is the right thing for your team. And if it doesn’t go well, I’m gonna shoulder it. And I’m OK with that.”"
Players love Del Rio for this. His belief in them, and his willingness to take accountability for his decisions and not throw his players under the bus, is endearing. It’s really a nice rich tapestry felt around the team.
"“Yeah, I love that he believes in his team, he believes in his players,” said LB Bruce Irvin. “That’s all you can ask for in a head coach.”"