Raiders coach Jack Del Rio has become the latest coach with a propensity for doing the unconventional, whether it’s going for two with a Week One contest on the line or keeping the offense on the field on fourth down.
Appearing this week on PFT Live, Del Rio explained why he keeps doing it, and whether he enters each game with a specific plan to take big chances.
“You always have your preparation ready in terms of knowing if those situations arise what things you’d like to be able to get to or conversely how you’d want to defend those situations,” Del Rio said. “I think what’s come up there were a few situations early in the year where I basically trusted the team and told them, ‘Let’s go get it.’ And we’ve been able to execute in those situations. So for me it’s about building that trust in our preparation and then the guys going out executing and making it look good.”
They’ve made it look more than good so far, fueling the team to a 4-1 record and, for now, first place in the AFC West. Just like in the old days.
Another similarity to the old days comes from the team’s propensity to commit penalties. That’s not something Del Rio relishes.
“We want to get it under control,” Del Rio said. “Really mainly the pre-snap penalties, which haven’t been a big part of it, but they are a part of it and we’d like to make sure we clean those up. The judgment calls where our football team is competing hard and we know we’re disciplined and we know we’re tough and we’re going to fight hard for things. Sometimes the judgment calls balance out as you get going but the pre-snap errors are the ones that drive coaches crazy and the ones that we have to clean up.”
The old Raiders drew penalties from their efforts to intimidate. Del Rio isn’t specifically looking to do that.
“I think more than talking about penalties or trying to intimidate people I think you want to have physical play and it starts in the trenches,” Del Rio said. “I think the addition of KO, Kelechi Osemele, he’s a really physical player and adding him to the left guard spot for us has really solidified our offensive line. We’re off to a great start opening holes and providing protection for our quarterback and it starts up front with the big guys.”
Whatever they’re doing, it’s working. Perhaps the biggest test of the year comes on Sunday, when a rested and prepared Chiefs team shows up for their first post-bye game, in a renewal of one of the great rivalries of the 1970s.
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