The bye week is finally upon the Oakland Raiders – well, almost – but even though the team doesn't officially hit the field again until November 19, that doesn't mean the Silver and Black are kicking back, and relaxing just yet.
Quite the opposite in fact.
While the team will indeed have Friday to Monday off – as mandated by the NFL collective bargaining agreement – the preparation for the second half of the season continues, regardless of what's next on the docket, which in this case is an international matchup with the New England Patriots.
"We're on the Patriots now," said running back DeAndre Washington. "That's our next opponent, so why not get an extra week of game planning on those guys? We know the history that comes with those guys."
His quarterback, Derek Carr, is also using the start of the bye week to get ahead on his preparation for the New England Patriots, a team he has yet to square off against in his young career.
"It's a good time to get ahead, to be honest, especially against a good team, so I've already started on that," Carr explained.
The long weekend, as well as the few days this week the players are in the facility, provide a perfect chance to look ahead at what's next, but also take a little time to reflect on the first nine games of the season, and see where the group can collectively get better.
In a word, it allows everyone on the team, both coaches and staff, the chance to self-scout.
"Diving into a really, really extensive self-scout and looking for efficiency," Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing said about the opportunities that the bye week presents. "What we're good at. What we're not good at. See if we need to tweak some things we're doing schematically. Also, gives us an opportunity to emphasize some of the things we're doing well or possibly even eliminate some stuff that we're not doing so well. We're definitely looking forward to diving into that and being able to come out of the week with some hard information that we can use."
And the timing for the bye? Well, DeAndré Washington thinks it couldn't be any better.
"I think it's the perfect time – we're [about] halfway through the season – just look at things that we've been accustomed to doing, and kind of just break some of those tendencies so teams can't tune in on one, specific detail, or one, specific formation," the second-year running back said. "Just switching it up, and just keeping teams on their toes about what we're doing, and how we're attacking them."
The Silver and Black will certainly have their hands full on November 19, when they descend upon Estadio Azteca to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots, and while Head Coach Jack Del Rio's squad will get the chance for a little rest and relaxation over the next few days, make no mistake about it, this won't be a prototypical vacation – not with so much still left on the agenda.
"We have a lot to prove the second half of the season," Washington explained. "We know we have our work cut out for us. We didn't come out the first half of the season the way we wanted, so guys are motivated. It's not like we're sitting in first place with our feet kicked up. We have a lot of work to do. We know what's at stake in this second half of the season."