The Oakland Raiders have been the subject of relocation rumors since the conclusion of last season. But regardless of where they end up, the Raiders’ focus in OTAs has been on performance and player development, with the intention of winning a few more games in 2016.
The Raiders went 7-9 last season, a huge improvement from their three-year stretch of ranking last in the AFC West with records like 3-13 and 4-12, but they can still improve.
Offseason additions of players like linebacker Bruce Irvin and defensive end Damontre Moore add muscle and experience to the Raiders’ defense, which ranked 22nd in the league last season by giving up 363 yards and 24 points per game. Their skills combined with preexisting talent like powerhouse linebacker Khalil Mack have created a solid foundation for the Raiders’ line – a bonus in such a defensively focused division.
“That’s over, that was last year,” said Khalil Mack. “We’re looking forward to getting better, man. You could say that’s a great accomplishment but it’s all about team, and going out and getting wins and creating that environment where guys want to win.”
Mack himself had a killer 2015 season by racking up 15 sacks, 57 tackles, and 20 assists on tackles. His skill earned him passage to the 2015 Pro Bowl for the first time in his young career.
“Coach [Jack Del Rio] says all the time, it’s tunnel vision,” Mack said. “Tunnel vision focusing in on what we need to do as a team and coming in here every day and doing our jobs. Doing it to the best of our abilities is … all you need to focus on. So we’re not really worried about the move, the transition. We’re worried about winning football games.”
If the Raiders can keep up their “tunnel vision” throughout the midst of relocation chaos, there’s no reason they can’t use the remaining months before regular season to develop into a competitive force within the AFC West. The tools and desire is there, now it’s up to them to perform.