After a four win improvement in 2015 and an impressive off-season thus far in 2016, Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio hears the hype about his team possibly competing for a playoff spot in 2016. Del Rio joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday and shared the message he delivered to his team about the optimism that surrounds them.
“There’s hype out there that doesn’t matter a damn thing. Don’t be concerned about with that,” Del Rio said he told his players. “What it’s about is the work you put in. It’s coming together as a team, it’s paying the price, it’s putting in the work, there’s no shortcut to being good. We have a chance. We’ve acquired some good players and we’ve developed some good players, but a collection of good players doesn’t make a good team. A good team has to find itself, has got to find its rhythm, has to put in the work and pay the price, and that’s what we are doing right now.
“That’s where that culture shift from last year. We kick in this year, we understand, they understand, players understand the things I’m looking for, and that were looking for as a staff, and so now, they’re starting to demand that of each other, and now we start to build something special.”
The Raiders made improving the secondary a priority this off-season by adding cornerback Sean Smith, safety Reggie Nelson, and drafting Karl Joseph with the 13th overall pick in the NFL Draft. Del Rio feels good about the newcomers, and believes additional upgrades to the front seven will also help their pass coverage.
“The better our pass rush is, the better any secondary is,” Del Rio said. “With grabbing Bruce Irvin in free agency, and being able to draft Shilique Calhoun and then we just added Damontre Moore, to get a shot to come in here to see if he can’t jump start his career. So we’ve got some weapons, and Aldon [Smith] at some point will be back and join us, hopefully come November.
“So we got some guys who can get after the quarterback, and I think anytime you can make the quarterback uncomfortable and have good players on the back end, then you can play good defense.”
Another bonus the defensive front seven will have is the continued improvement of pass rusher Khalil Mack. Before joining the Raiders last season, Del Rio served as Denver’s defensive coordinator, where he spent time with Von Miller. Del Rio believes the two defensive stars are very similar.
“I think the similarities are they both are capable of dominating stretches of the game in their own way,” Del Rio said. “I think they’re different players. Von has incredible bend, bendability and quickness and that’s what makes him really unique. Other than Derrick Thomas, I don’t know if anybody’s been able to dip and run around the corner as low and forceful as he can. So I would say that puts him in a rare category. I think Kahlil is rare in a different way. I think he’s more powerful, does it a different way, more of a power rusher but can be dominating and disruptive as well.”
With rumors of the organization’s possible mover to Las Vegas swirling, Del Rio says it’s still something he hasn’t really spoken to owner Mark Davis about.
“I’ve told him I’m going to coach the team. I’m happy to be in the Bay Area. I’m from Hayward. I love it here, and I’m going to continue to coach the Oakland Raiders. Until they tell us we’re somewhere else, doing something else, I’m going to have fun doing this,” Del Rio said. “I mean, I love it here. I love what we’re doing, and I love the guys we have, so we’re going to just work our butts off every day and make people out there in the Raider Nation proud.”