Five weeks into the 2016 NFL season and the Oakland Raiders have suddenly have the look of a winner. Last season the club started out 4-3, but then a three-game losing streak halted chatter of the postseason, and eventually the team ended 7-9.
This season has started even better, as with Derek Carr and the Raiders offense firing on all cylinders, the team has the look of a true contender, and today we look at a couple reasons as to why this team is ready to make a big impact and possibly make the postseason for the first time in quite awhile in Oakland.
1. Black Jack Del Rio
The biggest impact on this Raiders team has been what Jack Del Rio has done, which is change the culture and show incredible confidence in his team.
It all started with going for two in week one in that wild game in New Orleans, and hasn’t stopped. From crazy play-calling that has paid off, to big plays from their special teams, this team is playing at a high level, and right now Del Rio looks like an early candidate for NFL Coach of the Year if this continues.
2. Maturity in the Young Players
From Derek Carr to Amari Cooper, this Raiders team that used a ton of high draft picks on young players suddenly has the look of a veteran laden team whose young players have started to turn the corner.
Carr’s play has never been questioned, but at the same time, it’s been great to watch what he’s been able to do in five games, throw for 1383 yards, 11 touchdowns and 2 picks, carrying a QB rating of over 100.
Cooper’s big day Sunday couldn’t have come at a better time. He’s got 26 catches for 456 yards and a touchdown, but it looks like he’s ready to turn the corner and have a huge season.
3. The End of Dumb Penalties
Yes, the Raiders still make mistakes, but they as a team are not making the type of mistakes that have killed them in the past. Remember the penalties that would add yards and extend drives the other way? Those are a thing of the past at the moment for the Raiders, and a lot of that has to do with Del Rio.
He’s got the pulse on this team, and while they are playing aggressive, they are not committing the big mistakes that they have been known for in the past.
Again, it’s early, and some of these things may change, but you have to believe for now this club is headed in the right direction, and these are just a few of the reasons why.