When the regular season was all said and done, the Oakland Raiders emerged with a 12-4 record and a fifth seed ranking going into the playoffs and Wild Card weekend. While many Raiders fans would have taken that result from the get go of the season, fans have a cautious outlook moving forward.
Franchise quarterback Derek Carr is out for seemingly the entire playoffs, with rookie quarterback Connor Cook set to the take the reigns. The first start of Cook’s career happens to come during Wild Card weekend, against a Houston Texans’ team the Raiders faced earlier this season.
Head coach Jack Del Rio has his team preparing for the playoffs, adjusting the scheme towards Cook and the trio of running backs. Latavius Murray, the teams leading rusher, understood the importance of the running game moving forward.
When asked about the approach of the Raiders, Murray responded by stating that the Raiders are officially in ‘win or go home’ mode, via Raiders.com:
“This is what we wanted obviously, so we can’t make no excuses. We’re in the playoffs and more than half the teams are sitting at home, and so we get the opportunity to go out and play, and that’s all we can ask for. We need to obviously get better during the week right now, continue to work towards what we want, and that’s being in the playoffs, and that’s winning.”
During the regular season, Del Rio implemented a business-like mentality, urging his team to learn from their mistakes and improve with each and every week.
For every press conference the head coach of the Raiders has done this season, he has constantly stated that the Raiders don’t fear any opponent, but respect them.
With a proper media session, to be able to examine game film, the players can witness first-hand the small facets they need to improve, in order to take the next step. After all they have accomplished during the regular season, the playoffs are where you demonstrate your team unity and desire to win.
Linebacker Bruce Irvin, who leads the NFL in forced fumbles (6), took all the Raiders have done into perspective. He finished his media session by putting their season into perspective, stating that the Raiders and their fans are all that matter:
“People don’t understand how hard it is to win 12 games in this league, let alone make it to the postseason. People can say what they want to say, the only things that matter are the people in this building, and obviously our fans, but as long as we believe in each other and our fans believe in us we can…the sky is the limit, we can do anything we set our minds to.”
The Raiders face the Texans in the AFC Wild Card on Saturday, at 1:35 P.M. PST, airing on ESPN and at the NRG Stadium.