Lunch with Coach Del Rio

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Q: How much more do you know about your team than you did the day of the press conference?

Coach Del Rio:"We spent time as a staff going through and detailing our own players. The first order of business upon taking over is to get to know your own team. We continue to spend time getting to know our own team, going through the cuts, viewing the season and grading it, and reaching out and contacting players. A good percentage of our roster has had contact with the coaching staff, getting a call, returning the call, coming through and saying hello, and so getting to know the roster is a big part of what we're doing right now, so I know a lot better. I have a much greater reference point in terms of the building and makeup of the team and some of the things we know we need to do going forward."

Q: What's your biggest need right now? What do you see as your biggest need in terms of the roster?

Coach Del Rio:"I think the biggest thing is for us as a football team to develop the mentality. I don't know if I would get into a specific position that you would say, 'Hey we need to address this position.' We'll clearly increase the talent level, look to add to the talent level, but I think it's important we develop the players that are here. We want to create a competitive environment where guys enjoy coming to work, coming to work with great energy and compete their tails off every day. I think with that, the mentality that we're looking for will be developed and built and this football team will change, will transform."

Q: A lot of years here when there has been a turnover with the head coach, several assistants that are still under contract have been retained. This is probably the biggest turnover the Raiders have ever had, in terms of an entire coaching staff being turned over. Was that something you set out to do, in terms of changing attitudes, mindsets, that you wanted an entirely new coaching staff for this team to react to?

Coach Del Rio:"We didn't really look at it like that. Several of the guys were cleared out before I got there and I did not speak directly to some of them, but I basically went through a very deliberate process and spent a lot of time and thought in putting together the makeup of the current staff. I think we've assembled a strong staff, a staff of really good teachers, a staff of really good people, and I feel good about where we've ended up. I was not in a rush. I think the first time around I was a head coach, I thought there might have been some kind of prize at the end of it if I got through with it in record time. I didn't feel that pressure this time around, really took the time to discern, to check references, to spend time with the people and to make sure it was a good fit. Number one thing is that they were going to be loyal to me and that they were excited about being here in Oakland and being a part of this football team."

Q: There has been some talk about your offense maybe having some up tempo, no huddle elements to it. Are those going to be wrinkles? Can that be something we see more predominantly than not? How is that up tempo, no huddle thing going to fit into what you guys do?

Coach Del Rio:"It'll be something that we practice. How much we utilize it will depend on the game plan, the opponent, the game unfolds. We will definitely have that aspect of attack. We will have that ability to attack people in that manner. Bill Musgrave has a wealth of knowledge, has been around a lot of good coaches, a lot of different schemes, and we're going to as a staff, sit down and determine what the Raider way is going forward, but I know that is an element that he brings to the table, and he's not the only coach that has experience, that's on our staff now that has experience in some of the put the pedal down operations. He's not alone in that. We do have some people that have done that on the offensive staff. That's something that we will want to be able to do when we decide we want to do it. We want to be able to go at different speeds. When we want to go fast, we'll go fast. When we want to play at a no huddle, but a methodical past, we can do that. If we want to huddle and really milk it, we know how to do that. We're going to know how to play at different speeds and decide and dictate to the defense what speed we want to play at."

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Q: Have you talked to Derek Carr since you got the job? What have those conversations been like and what do you expect, knowing what you've seen from him on film? What's the next, natural progression?**

Coach Del Rio:"They've all been pretty general conversations. He's a bright, young man. He's clearly the kind of the guy that wants to roll up the sleeves and get to work. Everything that I've learned about him in terms of investigating our players and determining the types of people they have been prior to us getting here, everything has been really positive coming back. For us, we're looking at him as a really good, young player that we want to make sure that we're strong, not only that he's strong and he develops and does things, but that we're strong around him. We're going to be able to run the ball. We're going to play good defense around him, and then his ability to be accurate and decisive in the pass game would be something we think we could take advantage of."

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Owner Mark Davis and General Manager Reggie McKenzie introduced Jack Del Rio as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders.

Q: You talked on the Rich Eisen podcast the other day about how cutting edge you want to be, and a lot of talk about Bill Musgrave and the offense, but what other ways do you want to be cutting edge? Your strength and conditioning seems to be a little unorthodox, can you talk about that?**

Coach Del Rio:"That's probably the first place, when you asked that question, that's the first place my mind went, was Joe Gomes and the staff that we've hired. They were trained at API (Athletes' Performance), spent a lot of time there and the entire approach of conditioning and strengthening our players, the regeneration, the regenerative aspects of it, bringing guys back, making sure that they're healthy, the core work, the stabilization, all those things are going to be big factors. I think the cutting edge, I brought Luke Richardson with me to Jacksonville, I think six years ago, seven years ago now. He was out of API, kind of similar in the fact that he hadn't been in the NFL, a little bit of an unknown and he was terrific for me in Jacksonville. John Fox brought him in to Denver, the last three years we had him there and the things that they're doing are things that we should be doing with our athletes. They're cutting edge in terms of innovation. They're cutting edge in terms of understanding of some of the things that we need to do to give our football team a chance to be at its healthiest, at its most fit, at its peak, at its ability to be at a peak come Sundays and sort of the timing of bringing it all together is such where we can maximize what our players have. I think Luke did a great job. I think we've kind of gone back to that place and plucked a couple more guys out of there that are really talented. They're really bright and we have some plans that you'll see unfold, in terms of what we're doing with the weight room, what we're doing with the fields, that players are going to be very excited about when they get back."

Q: Along the same lines, that program will start on or about April 7. What are some of the most important things that you have to get done, the Combine is next week, that you and the staff have to get done before the players get back?

Coach Del Rio:"We'll continue doing our work. This time of year you're working on our own roster and understanding it, you're working on system implementation, so we'll sit down and make sure that what we're going to do and what we're going to be going forward, that it fits the personnel we have, and then we'll start looking at available personnel, or potentially those that might be available in free agency, build a plan on along those lines, and then we'll start preparing for the draft. All of this is kind of in play, and between now and April 7, we'll have an awful lot of work to do, but we're systematically going through it and we understand the task that's in front of us and just rolling up our sleeves and getting work."

Q: The flipside of that would be Ken Norton who hasn't called plays yet, but who you have a background with, and who was highly regarded in Seattle. What was the appeal of bringing him here?

Coach Del Rio:"Great passion. Really connects with the players. He's been a part of great defenses there in Seattle, so he's coming in with knowledge of what it looks like to win, what it takes to win, how you put together a roster, how you motivate a roster. He's going to be excellent. I'm really excited about the connection that he'll bring, the passion that he brings every day. He likes to have fun. It's going to be a real positive environment. Players are going to love it. They're going to play hard for us. We're going to play hard. We're going to play fast. We're going to have fun getting after people."

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Q: Maybe it's not split down the middle, but in terms of combining this new Raiders defense, how much of it is going to be what you've done as a defensive coordinator and head coach throughout the course of the last decade, and then Ken obviously being more green, is this going to be more your style of defense than his? Is their overlap?**

Coach Del Rio:"This is going to be the Raider way. I think trying to determine what the percentage of him or mine is irrelevant. I think what's most important is we know we're going to settle on things that we're going to be. I'm not really concerned about what that percentage is going to look like. We both believe in the basic premise that if guys understand what they're supposed to do, and you have good teachers, and you're able to develop guys, and bring the best out of guys, and bring the best out of them, and get them to play hard for you, then you start developing that confidence, you start flying around the field and getting after people, that's how you play great defense. Fortunately we were both blessed with the opportunity to play for a long time, and we've both been coaching a long time, and we've been around some great defenses. I feel very confident that we will begin playing great defense in a short amount of time."

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Q: What are your impressions of Latavius Murray? Do you think he can be a number one running back? Have you seen enough on tape to believe that?**

Coach Del Rio:"I think he's shown enough of the traits to make him a candidate to be that guy. I don't know that he's earned that, yet. I think he's shown that there's potential there and we're excited about working with him and developing him to his fullest, and having him compete and whoever ends up being the best guy, we'll let the best guy play. He's done enough things that peak your interest."

Q: What impressed you about him?

Coach Del Rio:"Size. Good size. Good speed. There's some things that we'll need to work to improve, in terms of overall awareness, football IQ, things like that, but we think we can help him with coaching, and some of the running lanes we want to provide him. Quite frankly, there weren't enough holes last year for backs to get loose and do their thing. We want to make sure we're doing our job up front, creating holes, knocking people off the ball and creating running lanes for guys like he and others that we talked about earlier, to have a chance to do their thing."

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