Each Wednesday during the regular season brings the promise of a new challenge and a new opponent. Many head coaches around the National Football League believe in consistency and repetition. Although there is no indication that Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio is not of that ilk, however, he did decide to change the team's practice and media availability schedule for the foreseeable future. The Raiders have not won a road game since Nov. 17, 2013, at Houston. The Raiders last win with a 10:00 a.m. PT kickoff? Dec. 6, 2009, at Pittsburgh.
"We'll always take a look and see what we think is best in terms of preparing the team and getting ourselves ready for that opponent that week," Coach Del Rio said. "We're choosing to approach it this way this week."
The thought process that has gone into changing the schedule has one goal in mind – winning.
"We're working on the things that you need to be to be a good football team, and part of that is travelling with a purpose, travelling well and performing well on the road," Coach Del Rio said. "It's a hostile environment. It's going to be loud, a lot of different factors working against you. Clearly, there's an advantage to playing at home, but we want to be road warriors. We want to be the kind of team that can travel well and play in any kind of conditions, any kind of weather, any kind of crowd, and just be very purposeful and go in there and be able to impose our will on the opposing team."
Another approach that will have to change this week is how the Raiders will defend the Cleveland Browns offense. Quarterback Josh McCown left the Browns Week 1 loss to the New York Jets with a concussion and gave way to second-year man Johnny Manziel who led Cleveland to a victory last week over the Tennessee Titans. Although McCown was named the starting quarterback for this week's game, Coach Del Rio said the Raiders approach to defending [Browns offensive coordinator] John DeFilippo's offense won't change regardless of the quarterback.
"They have a system. Get ourselves prepared to play the system and understand the nuances that may be a little bit different with each quarterback," Coach Del Rio said. "Other than that, you're preparing for both guys, you always do, you're always aware of who the backup is and what they're capable of."
Both McCown and Manziel have an element to their game the Raiders haven't seen yet – mobility. So far the Raiders have faced traditional drop-back passers in Cincinnati's Andy Dalton and Baltimore's Joe Flacco. Another element these types of quarterbacks add is the play known as the "read-option." This trip to Cleveland won't be the only time the Raiders see this play as Tennessee will undoubtedly employ it later in the season with rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota.
"Well, as Derek [Carr] showed this past weekend," Coach Del Rio said. "The guy's threat to pull it and take off and get a big gain at any point. You have to have a plan to handle that."
It was McCown's scrambling that resulted in his Week 1 injury as he went airborne trying to score. Looking at his body of work throughout his career, the veteran signal caller won't change his style of play after this, so the Raiders need to have a plan heading into this game no matter who runs the offense for the Browns.
From Week 1 to Week 2, the Raiders changed from losers to winners, bouncing back from a 33-13 defeat at the hands of the Bengals and defeating the Baltimore Ravens 37-33. But both of those games were at home in Oakland. Now, the Silver and Black must go on the road and conquer those demons. With today being the first day of fall, perhaps the winds of change are in the air.
Fullback Jamize Olawale returned to practice and participated on a limited basis. Defensive ends Benson Mayowa and Justin Tuck (knee injuries) and safety Charles Woodson (shoulder) did not participate in today's practice.
Song of the Day
Today's Song of the Day, heard during the stretching period, is Off the Rip by French Montana (Feat. Chinx, N.O.R.E.), a relatively new track released in May of this year. French Montana (stage name) was born in Morocco. I just can't get into some of this newer hip-hop. I'll stick to my 80s and 90s.