Mark Davis Opening Statement**: "January 16, 2015 is a great day for the Raiders, and it's a great day to be a Raider. I want to start off with two things. Number one, today is my mom's birthday, and I want to wish her a happy birthday and tell her, 'I love you, Mom.' Secondly, Marc Badain, who's been with the Raiders for 23 years, is now going to become the President of the Raiders, moving up from CFO. So, the interim tag has been taken off of him. Thirdly, I want to introduce with pride, the pride of the Hayward High School Farmers, the next Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders, Jack Del Rio. I'm going to let Reggie introduce him for you."
Owner Mark Davis and General Manager Reggie McKenzie introduced Jack Del Rio as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
McKenzie**: "Good afternoon, guys. Tell Mrs. D I said happy birthday."
Davis: "I certainly will."
Reggie McKenzie Opening Statement: "It's a great day today. When the season ended, Mark and I set out to find the next coach to lead the Raiders into the future. That process began by us casting a wide net to interview coaches. This process was thorough and comprehensive with Mark and I. The process led us to the best man for the job, the best man, Jack Del Rio. Coach Del Rio has the experience and the success as a proven head coach. Jack Del Rio will bring toughness, discipline and passion that this organization values. Coach Del Rio is a true Raider. Coach Del Rio is the man to lead the Raider organization into the future. Some 30 years ago, Jack and I entered the draft in 1985. Jack was drafted a lot higher than I was, but I was a better player. That's my evaluation (laughing). What I prefer to do, everyone, I would like to introduce the Raiders head coach, Coach Jack Del Rio."
Head Coach Jack Del Rio Opening Statement: "Thank you, Reggie. Thank you, Mark Davis, for this opportunity. Thank you, the Raider organization and the Raider Nation, the greatest fan base in the world. Thank you for such a warm welcome. I want to thank right away, my wife, Linda. 30 years of being in this league, 28 years married. She's a beautiful lady and has done a wonderful job with our family, and I appreciate that. My kids, Lauren, Hope, Aubrey and Luke, I know they're all out there watching. They learned how to give dad an ice bag, they learned how to move and make new friends, so I just want to say thank you to them. I am really, really excited to be in this position. I'm honored, I'm very grateful, very humbled. Getting to know the front office that Mark Davis has put together and Reggie, these are bright people and I'm really excited to work with them. It's been very impressive getting to know them and getting this start in the short amount of time that I've gotten to know Marc Badain, who was just given a nice promotion, deservedly so, Dan Ventrelle, Tom Delaney and many others. This is a strong building. I'm excited to join this group of men and pursue the idea and the goal of bringing back the Raiders to greatness. This is an organization that has been an excellent organization for a number of years, and it's fallen on some hard times recently, but the foundation is in place for us to be great again. I'd like to look at this moment as not really about me, even though I'm being introduced as the new head coach. I think it's more about 'we.' I'd like to look at this as a unifying moment in the history of the Raider Nation and this football team, this organization, this family. Reggie and I unified in building this roster strong, unified in assembling a very strong coaching staff and unified in doing everything in our power to make everybody that's a part of this organization proud. We want to create a winning culture, and a winning culture is one where people come to work every day excited to be there. We want to create a winning culture where people are looking forward to going into work, where they understand the sacrifice that is needed. If we all sacrifice for each other we can accomplish great things. That's what I'm looking to build here. We will bring toughness. Reggie spoke to that and we both believe in that. Everything we do, we want to be tough, and I'm talking about physically, and most importantly, mentally. One of the strong things that I think I've been fortunate enough to instill in some of the teams and players that I've been with is a mindset that we're in control of what we do. We're in control of our agenda. It doesn't matter how the perception reads outside of our building. It's our locker room, it's up to us. I want to empower the players in the locker room to be accountable, to step forward, to take the team, to take the torch and build this thing great again. It happens by the players. This is a player's game. It takes more than talent. We're going to look to acquire talent, but it takes more than talent. It takes more than scheme. It really is that mentality, that mindset that if you really look at each and every successful organization, there is that mindset that permeates the building. We're going to teach, we're going to develop, we're going to make sure that our guys are well conditioned, and then we're going to compete. We have a lot of work to do and I'm excited to be here and excited to get started. With that, I think we can turn it over to questions."
Davis: "I want to hire him again. (laughing)"
Q: When you look at the roster, what do you feel the biggest needs are?
Del Rio: "Well, the first order of business will be for us to go through the roster and evaluate it, and formulate a game plan going forward. We are just beginning that process."
Q: The last 13 years, several men have sat where you're sitting and promised better days, the fan base got excited and it didn't happen. What are some of the tangible things you're going to do that under your watch the Raiders will get to those better days?**
Del Rio: "Well, I think the biggest thing is that there is a mentality that has to be pervasive in the building. There's an understanding of some of the fundamental beliefs that I believe are part of playing good football. Some of that is so fundamental that it's not exciting to talk about: being able to stack a block, shed a block, take the proper angle, pursue together, swarm together as a defense, tackle in the open field, get guys down, play from beginning to end with a mental fortitude that says we refuse to lose, we refuse to let people score. You work on those things day in and day out. It's not one thing, there's not a magic wand anybody can wave. It's a process. We're going to work hard on that starting today and moving forward."
Q: I'm not sure how many Raiders games you saw last season…
Coach Del Rio:"I saw two. (laughing) I'm just kidding, go ahead."
Q: How do you plan to develop Derek Carr and what was your assessment of his rookie season, and do you keep the offensive line intact to protect him?
Del Rio:"OK, thank you. First of all, in looking at this opportunity, yes it's coming home, yes I'm from this area and yes I am a life-long Raider. I've been a Raider fan all my life. My dad took me and I sat in the stands and rooted way back when, and so I've followed them in my heart* *the entire time. That's not the main reason I came back. I was blessed with this opportunity and agreed to take this job because of a lot of factors, and it starts with knowing that there's good leadership in place that I believe I can work with – that we can build this team, that we can help the running game be strong, the defense be strong and Derek Carr be developed, and so it's not all about him doing it all by himself. As an organization, we have a lot to do, but we understand where we're going and how we're going to get there. Part of that is making sure that a good, young talent like Derek is not asked to do too much, that he does have a great support system around him. Thank you."
Q: Jack, when in this process did you know that you wanted this job? Mark, Tony Sparano was in the building until Tuesday, but when did you realize that Jack was the guy you wanted?**
Davis:"I met with Jack on Sunday last week, I guess it was about 10 days ago, in Denver on my own. We had an unbelievable talk and I realized then that he was definitely somebody that I would be interested in having lead this team. After that, the process that Reggie and I had going out was to interview a wide net of people and if there were people that we felt would be of interest to the other person, then we would bring them in for a second interview with the group – with Marc Badain, Dan Ventrelle, Tom Delaney, Coach Madden – and we would talk. We spent about seven hours the other day with Jack and after that interview, I knew that Jack Del Rio was the one that I wanted to lead this franchise into the future. Reggie and I, during that discussion and all, took off for an hour-long, five-minute talk and we both came to the conclusion that it was best for this organization. So Jack Del Rio is our coach and that was important to me and it was important to Reggie. That's how we came to the decision and that's when I knew that we would hire him."
Coach Del Rio:"What part did you leave for me there?
Q: During the interview process, when did you realize that you wanted to be here?
Coach Del Rio:"Well, it was a matter of going through that process and at the completion of that process, I knew this was something that I wanted. I think my appreciation for the people that are in place, having a history with Reggie, knowing Reggie – we know each other personally. Reggie's done a nice job. I said, 'If you have drafts like you did last year every year, we're going to be in great shape.' In all seriousness, there's a mutual respect there. Then getting to know some of the guys that Mark Davis has assembled in the front office, I think obviously – I spoke to that earlier – I'm very impressed with the guys I'm going to be working with, or we're going to be working with together on a day-to-day basis to build this thing. I think the right pieces are in place to have success."
Q: Mark, Jack has already been linked to pretty big names as far as coordinators who will likely have a hefty price tag. What was your commitment to him as far as the resources he will have to assemble the best staff? Jack, how much did that factor into your decision?**
Davis:"I let Jack know that he will have all the resources he needs to do that."
Del Rio:"We're working on a list and there's a group of people that we're interested in, and I'd really prefer not to share Raider business with everybody out there that we're competing against. But I can assure you that we have a very strong group of people that are excited about coming here and joining this organization, and we're just going to work through that list and kind of take care of business as we can. But we're not going to get into going through a list of who that might be."
Q: Did getting that green light to spend money influence your decision?
Del Rio:"It was important to understand that there would be structure in place that would allow financial commitment that would allow us to get some of the top talent, and Mark has indicated that is the case. So that was obviously a nice piece of this, a big part of it."
A look at new Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio's football career.
Q: Mark, you talked about realizing right away that Jack was the guy after your conversation with him in Denver. What was it about that meeting? What was different about him?**
Davis:"It's kind of funny. When we first had a talk about even having the meeting, I told Jack that I think I'm going to go in a different direction and I'm thinking about going more offensive as the head coach, because we have a young quarterback and everything. And Jack said, 'Woah, woah, woah, stop. I know about offense as well.' When we met and he dissected the Raiders' roster and was able to tell me about each offensive player and tell me how he thought they ranked and how they did, it was pretty amazing to me that he had just spent a whole season up in Denver but knew our offensive roster as well as anybody. That showed me that he's ready to be here and take that part of the anxiety out of me about going with another defensive coach."
Q: Jack, there has been a lot of uncertainty about the Raiders' future in Oakland. How comfortable are you with that situation, with not being sure what's going to happen and even where this team is going to play in a year or two?
Del Rio:"Well, I'm comfortable with Mark and talking about that subject, the answer being that we are committed to making it work here in Oakland. That's all I needed to hear."
Q: Jack, you've obviously been a head coach before. In what ways are you that same guy you were in Jacksonville? In what ways are you different?
Del Rio:"I think when you have the experience on the job, there's nothing like it. Nine years of sitting in the head coach chair and having the responsibilities, understanding the decisions that have to be made, the things that are coming, how you assemble a staff, how you organize the team, how you motivate the team, how you teach and coach and instill discipline and all the things that you want to do – just be able to put that through. You have an idea when you're a young coach of what you think it would be, and then the reality of being a head coach sets in. I think there's been tremendous growth. It also was very beneficial after being a head coach, getting the past three years to go back and be a coordinator in a successful group, because I was able to see things from a different perspective. I think that adds to the learning and to some of the wisdom that hopefully I can bring and share."
Q: What is your offensive philosophy?**
Del Rio:"My offensive philosophy is to score points. (laughing) I'm sorry, Fallon. I would just say when you become a head coach, which I was for nine years, you're interested in all three phases playing well. You want to play complimentary football. You want to take advantage of the talents that you have. You become an offensive guy as well, so I lost that 'defensive guy' label for nine years, and then the last three years I went back and coached defense again. I think when you're a head coach and you're in charge of all of it, and you look at some of the top head coaches in our game – a couple that are playing this weekend – Bill Belichick was a defensive guy and he's doing a pretty good job with his offense. He's gone through a lot of different coordinators and he continues to do a good thing. It didn't work for him when he started in Cleveland either. Pete Carroll is a defensive guy in his background, but he's doing a pretty good job up there in Seattle with their offense and with their team. So I think when you hire a head coach, you get that – you get a head coach. There are a lot of good schemers out there. There are a lot of good coaches out there that are talented and have ideas. I see myself more as a leader of the coaching staff and a leader of the organization that is able to influence not only the defensive side, but the offensive side and special teams as well."
Q: Can you talk about some of the top influences and people that you coached under or played for that have had the biggest impact on your life?
Del Rio:"Sure, Kevin. Let me just say that when I was asked this question in the interview, that might have caused it to go over so long, right? I think I started with my CYO coach Jim Reid, who was a great coach by the way, because he instilled in us – he would never let us say 'if we win' when we were in a tournament. It was always 'when we win, this is who we're going to play'. It goes way back. I'm still close with all my high school coaches from Hayward High. They all had an impact on me. John Robinson brought me to Southern Cal and he had an impact on me. Just throughout my whole career, it was really every step of the way. I would say that once I became a player in the National Football League, I would say the guys that had the greatest impact on me – I think Jimmy Johnson reminded me of the passion necessary to play at a high level, the commitment necessary, and I remain in touch with Jimmy. I think then I would say Denny [Dennis] Green as far as his organization. He was a great man to play for. I really loved my time with Denny in Minnesota. He taught me a lot about the taking care of a player and making sure the player is fresh on Sunday, because the last four years I had with Denny were the first four years that I was allowed to be fresh on Sundays the way I thought I should be. I thought Denny did a great job with that. In the coaching world, Mike Ditka gave me my start. He brings raw passion and love for the game. And you can just keep going – Brian Billick helped me with some of the organizational skills and things like that. The guy who actually got me into coaching was Tony Dungy. He was my mentor, a guy that I have a lot of respect for as a man and as a coach, and so Tony was very influential in getting me started and even considering coaching. A lot of different people. Hopefully I didn't bore you with that long answer right there."
Q: Reggie and Mark, what were the criteria you were looking for that Jack really hit? How important was creating the right environment for your young quarterback now that you've find a guy?
McKenzie:"Number one, for the culture and the environment that I wanted in the locker room, all the questions that we had in that regard, Jack hit it on the head. And creating the winning attitude – wanting to talk about passion and you're talking about toughness and the steps of how we're going to go about that, just talking about accountability and leadership within the locker room – all of that permeates through where the coaches don't have to micro-manage. That's what it's all about, creating [an environment] those guys to do it for themselves. When you're talking about what we saw in Jack, the leadership – number one, the experience and what he'd learned from being the head coach those nine years, both good and bad. It's the experience that he learned, recognizing what he did wrong and right and facing it, and then knowing how to correct it. We went through all of that, and that was paramount when we talk about bringing this team in 2015 on an upwards swing. We wanted that experience. From the end, the experience was paramount. Like I said, Jack is a great leader, there's no bones about that. From the research – it's not just the interview. When we talk about a thorough process, it was many people who we talked to aside from Coach Del Rio. It was a lot that factored into that."
Q: As far as creating the right environment for your quarterback, what are your thoughts on that position?**
McKenzie:"Yes, and that's what we talked about when we talked about getting these lists of assistant coaches together. When you surround yourself with a great staff, and that's what we talked about thoroughly, that's going to help. And also the players that you continue to bring in – playmakers on the outside, protection, the defense, the run game, all of that. We talked about every aspect to try to help surround Derek with whatever we have to improve and win."
Q: From your perspective, what changed with the Raiders to make this the right hire at this right time?
Davis:"I would think you'd ask Reggie that."
Q: Three years ago when you left the Jaguars, the Raiders were looking for a head coach at that time. Were there any discussions between the Raiders and yourself about the possibility of becoming the head coach?
McKenzie:"So you ask me, three years ago when I did this, OK. Yes, I did have a conversation with Jack Del Rio. He had gotten released. We did have a conversation, a couple of conversations over the phone in 2012. At that time, when he got released, in my evaluation… let's wait. When you talk about getting released, right off the bat, three years ago that was my mentality. When he finished his first time head coaching, I was looking for something new at that time. This time, the experience that he's had the three years as defensive coordinator, being able to step back and see what he's done, and going through the interview process and information gathering. Then, sitting down with him for seven hours, that was all I needed. That was the difference. I didn't interview him three years ago but I talked to him a couple of times over the phone."
Del Rio:"I would just follow up and say that after nine years, I need a little rejuvenation really. I feel like the last three years have been very beneficial in terms of me being reenergized, rejuvenated, whatever you'd like to call it. I was able to collect myself, go through some things that went well that didn't go well. I was able to make sure that my thoughts going forward were to not make mistakes again where I had made mistakes, to do the things that I did well even better. Basically just grow from the experience. Hopefully now I will be able to utilize that knowledge and apply it now with this great opportunity."
Q: I have two questions. Mark, this organization has a long history of hiring mostly men who have not been head coaches before getting their first shot. I'm wondering why at this stage, it's important to have someone who has gone through this before?
Davis:"I think the current structure of the players with younger players coming in and trying to build a foundation, I think it's important to have somebody that's got the experience that they can believe in and trust in, that's been there and done it before. When the going gets tough, they have to look to somebody that they can believe in. I think that's one of the ingredients that I felt was important to me. I think all of the people that I interviewed had that experience in there."
Q: What can you bring, being a Raider fan, knowing the culture of this team? You said that's not why you came, but is there anything tangible that you bring to this organization because of that background? Can you share a favorite moment that stands out?
Del Rio:"There are many, many fond memories that stand out. I think the one thing that I'm aware of is that this is a great organization. This has a great history of tremendous football players and coaches that have come through here and been a part of what has now become the Raider Nation. This fan base is the best in the world. It's been incredible, the outpouring of love and welcoming coming my way, and the way of our family. I think an appreciation of that, having seen that greatness and having seen what it should be here really fuels me. We just want to make the great players that watch and continue to support, we want to make them proud. We want to feel that legacy and make sure that we understand what we're living up to. I think that's part of it. There's a great, rich tradition of excellence here. We want to do everything in our power to bring that back. I believe together we can. We have really good people here and together we can do that."
Q: You've been in this division the last three years. You've seen the trend. Is part of the allure that you're looking at these other teams and saying the Raiders are going up? Do you see that trending up?
Del Rio:"I think there's certainly no other way to trend from where we're sitting right now. We have to go up. I think certainly I have a great appreciation and understanding of the other teams in this division. I know it is a competitive division. I do believe that this is a good time to be here. There are things that need to be done, but I do believe that we have a chance to be successful or I would not have put my name behind it. It's about us. It's about what we can do. We have a lot of work ahead of us."
Q: What kind of reaction have you gotten from Gary Clark or your friend Andy Miller, the local reaction of the community that you involved in for so long? What's that been like?
Del Rio:"Overwhelming. It's been great .they've all reached out. I haven't had the time or chance to really sit in and take it all in because it's a whirlwind and there are a lot of things that have to be done that are taking priority, but just a text response saying thank you, appreciate that. Looking forward to being able to get together."
Q: How important was it to you that Mark was involved in this process? Maybe different than the last time.
McKenzie:"Very important. We set out from the beginning… we were going to cast this wide net out to interview these guys and figure out how to get them all done. Mark was very involved. It was important for both of us to do it from a united front here."
Q: Does Jack report to you or Reggie?
Davis:"He reports to both of us. We work together. I report to them."
Q: Is that different than how it was with the last coach?
Davis:"No, I don't think so. It's how the coaches had determined how they wanted to act. Tony Sparano made a great effort to reach out to me on a consistent basis and I was really happy about that. Let me say this, Tony Sparano did a phenomenal job here at the Raiders. It's not a derogatory thing that he's not sitting here getting this job. We're thankful for everything that he did for us."
Q: When you look at this roster, do you think this team is close to turning it around and being competitive in this division?
Del Rio:"I believe that there are some good pieces in place. There is some work to be done. As I indicated earlier, I don't believe it's just about talent. I think you have to have talent. It's not just about scheme. You have to have scheme. It's a combination of things. There is some work to be done on the roster, no question, we want to make it as competitive as possible. We will compete in free agency, we will compete in the draft, we will compete in assembling a football team and teaching and coaching. Then we'll go compete on Sundays in the fall. There are some pieces there to begin with."
Q: Reggie, you have quite a bounty in cap space this offseason. I wanted to know your assessment of how you did last season. Jack, what will be your role?
McKenzie:"For one, free agency is not the first way I want to build a team, that's through the draft. That's always been my philosophy. When you have to piece some things together, especially if you don't get the number one type guys, you try to make it work. I think we had some guys that were productive for us and we had some guys that were not. As many guys as we signed, you're going to hit and miss on a couple. We felt good about a lot of the guys that we signed and the production that they gave us. Moving forward, some of these guys will continue to do that."
Del Rio:"We'll evaluate, share information and help make good decisions on how we put it all together. You do what you can this time of year to first evaluate your own roster. Then you complete the staff and get your calendar in place. You just start working at the process. That's what we're going to need to do, be very thorough. Know our own guys best, before we start the process, know our own and have a real thorough evaluation on our own roster and start there. Then, get to know the rest of those that come available. Obviously you lose some of those guys that get signed back by their teams, so it's a fluid process. It's one that there is a lot of work involved in, and a lot of sharing of information and we'll work through that with our staff."
Q: The last few years, the defense here has been hemorrhaging points, and you come with a resume of top-10 defenses throughout. During game day, are you the type of head coach that's going to call defense, or is your DC going to have full control of that?
Del Rio:"It just depends on the situation, who we acquire as the defensive coordinator, how I assess his play calling abilities and readiness and those types of things. If it were a veteran guy hired, that I had complete trust in to call game day than I would let that go. If it's younger guy that is being groomed and maybe a first time, I might help him along that process. That's something you work through with your staff to make sure that at the end of the day we're going to play good defense here. We're going to have a good offense. We're going to be a good football team, but we'll put the staff together, and however it works best, however we can maximize the abilities on the staff, that's how we'll go about it."
Q: You're taking over a team that pretty much maintained the same record for the past three years. How do you change the morale with the young guys and let them know that this year is different from previous years? How do you make them believe this time is different?
Del Rio:"I think hopefully they can see the track record and the blueprint that we can accomplish special things if we're willing to work, we're willing to sacrifice, we're willing to condition, we're willing to embrace some of the basic fundamentals that we need to be good at, and drill them over and over. We're going to make it competitive and we're looking for that mentality within our group, and we want leaders to emerge in the locker room, from the players themselves where they're carrying the torch in the locker room, and they're accountable and holding each other accountable, and when we do all those things, we'll grow, and we'll improve, and we'll strengthen, and we'll win."
Q: With your experience, obviously being in this division, do you feel that it's necessary to go back to the basics?
Del Rio:"It's always necessary to go back to the basics. It's one of my core beliefs that you don't ever forget about the fundamentals. You need to work on the fundamentals, and that is not something that goes away when we are in shorts practices. So much of our work in today's NFL is in shorts. We've got to be able to tackle and to do things like that in shorts. Guys will understand and learn how to work on blocking, and tackling and some of the basic fundamentals that we have to be good at; we'll be able to execute those techniques in shorts."
Q: Reggie, the first three years you've been here, there has been a huge roster turnover. Will that be the case again this year? Is that needed again this offseason?
McKenzie:"Not as much. Not as much. I think there's still need for some turnover, but the extreme part, no. The key with some of the things when you're talking about a quarterback situation; we feel like we have something to build around and just some key players at other positions. We have at least one guy that can get after the quarterback that other teams have to fear. Some of the pieces are starting to fall in place, but yes, we have to continue to build, but it's not going to be a complete makeover."
Q: Both Ann Killion and Jerry McDonald talked about history, and I was just wondering if you could tell us a story or two about your experience going to the Oakland Coliseum, because a lot of us locals used to go to games and were lucky enough to cover those great teams in the 1970's.
Del Rio:"There are a lot of great moments. One that I talked about earlier was, I may have gotten the score wrong, I didn't research it, but I remember there being a game where we needed a touchdown. George Blanda, who was largely retired as a quarterback and mostly a placekicker at the time, comes off the bench, puts his helmet on, leads the team down the field for a touchdown to win. I just remember how fired up we were leaving the stadium. It was just one of those moments. I remember Mark Van Eeghen running behind [Gene] Upshaw and [Art] Shell, and [Dave] Casper on the left. I remember great defense, and just John Madden with the short-sleeved button down, with the tie flying in the wind. I just remember those. Those are memories. I was fortunate enough to go as a kid and got to play here in a high school championship game, and won the championship here, and played well. There are a lot of great memories and they came flooding back. It's an awesome place. It's a treat to be back. It's an honor to be back."
Q: This is a two part: firstly, for Mark, was it important at all to you to ask players what they were looking for in a coach, and if not, why not? Separately, for Jack, what did John Madden ask of you during the interview process?
Davis:"It was definitely important for me to talk to some of the players, just to get some of their input on where they thought the organization was, where the team was, and what the team was needing. I definitely used their input in my thought process."
Del Rio:"He was part of it. It was an honor to have John Madden be a part of that process. You're talking about a tremendous coach, a tremendous human being who is heavily interested in the Raiders, being great. I think Mark obviously talked to John about him being a part of that process, and it was a treat, because you're talking about one of the all-time great Raiders, and a guy who saw and led some of the all-time great teams, and for him to be a part of that process, and share insights and share stories, it was an honor. It was awesome."
Q: The last three years, besides all the losses, there have been a lot of real one-sided losses. The Raiders have tended to let games get away. Is that the kind of mental toughness thing; is that part of being mentally tough, keeping games close and competing?
Del Rio:"Well, I think it can show up, and certainly if that's occurring that can be a part of it. I don't really know that it benefits anybody to get into specifics about some of the things that didn't go well. I think the biggest thing is that we have a really, solid vision on where we want to go and things that we need to do. I think we're going to spend our energy really on focusing on the things that we can do to be as good as possible. If you just look at our game last year, I think at the end of the first half and it was, I want to say, 10-6 and Oakland was ahead and had the ball. To see how that game got away, there are some lessons to be learned there. There are some things that can be learned there, and hopefully we can teach and instill confidence in our guys, to understand that when you win some of these situations you can be in a ballgame, you can have a chance to win some of those, and you gain confidence as you go from doing that."
Q: When you were with Denver, you played the Raiders, and when you were preparing defenses for those teams, were there things that you saw there that might have brought you here today?
Del Rio: "There were definitely things that I saw, definitely experiences that I had and that we had in those games. I would say the knowledge of the division is a positive. As far as specifics that I saw in those games that brought me here, I don't know if that really fits. I'm trying to make it work [laughing]. The bottom line is this is a great opportunity to join a great organization in a division that I do know and looking forward to getting started."
Q: Have you had a chance to follow any of the Oakland teams at all?
Del Rio: "I'm following the Warriors right now."
Q: Can you describe the feeling you had or do you recall the first Raiders Super Bowl win?
Del Rio: "Yes on all of that, and the Golden State Warriors winning in '76.
Q: It was '75.
Del Rio: "Okay, darn it. I've been saying that my whole life, the wrong year [laughing]. I've been saying it with pride, too. Nobody had ever corrected me. So yes, no question. I'm not going to try another year because I'm not going to get it wrong…oh, that's where I got the '76 – I was thinking Raiders. But bottom line is it was a time as a young man to grow up where during those mid-70s there were tremendous sports teams in this city, led by the Raiders. You had the A's playing well, the Warriors playing well, and the Raiders obviously playing very well. The Warriors are playing pretty good right now and here come the Raiders."
Q: Can you talk about how you felt with that first [Super Bowl] win?
Del Rio: "Great sense of pride. That's what we feel as a community. I take great pride in the performance of the Bay Area teams, and particularly East Bay. I'm an East Bay guy. You have to be one or the other; you can't be both. Don't tell me you're both, I don't want to hear you're both. I'm an East Bay guy and I've always been an East Bay guy."
Q: What impressions have you gotten from what you've seen of Khalil Mack so far? How excited are you to build a defense around a guy like that?
Del Rio: "He's an impressive young man. He was a tremendous talent coming out in the draft. He's off to a solid start. I think for him and for all the young players, and for all the players period, it's about putting in the work. There's no short cut to being really good. There's no short cut to being a great player. You have to earn it. You have to work at it. You have to sharpen your skills. You have to work on your conditioning. You have to be a great teammate and not just be good yourself but lead people around you. I'm really excited to get to work and get started building with him."
Q: You said earlier that your three years in Denver as a coordinator gave you some perspective. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that a bit and let us know how you're a better head coach now for not being a head coach the last three years? Del Rio: "There's just things that you see from an assistant coach perspective that you don't often see as a head coach. It's a different perspective. You're looking at the room from a different view. Going back and getting that again reminded me of some of the things that as an assistant you need to be successful and some of the dos and don'ts. You don't always learn because it's great and you got it all figured out. A lot of times you learn because there's a mistake being made and you see how it was handled and you make a note and you say, 'if this comes up, I'd like to handle it a little better.' From some of those experiences, I think, and having that perspective really helps."