Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio played in the NFL for 12 seasons. When he put his coaching staff together it quickly became clear that being a former player was a quality on which he placed great value.
On Monday, a couple of his young foundation players expressed how much they appreciate having coaches who have been in their shoes and played the game at a high level.
As a former linebacker, Del Rio is a defensive head coach. He has another former linebacker on his staff in defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr who played 13 seasons in the NFL with the 49ers and Cowboys. Both Del Rio and Norton Jr will be able to offer standout second year linebacker Khalil Mack a great deal of instruction and perspective as a former player.
A very excited Khalil Mack took to the podium Monday and glowed about his expectations from his new coaches.
"You can sense it as a player," Mack said of Del Rio and Norton Jr being former players. "He's excited. He's a competitor and you can feel that intensity that you can feel on the defense when you're out there and it's fourth down and you got a guy out there like that, it can only help, that you've got a coach that's been there."
"You can tell that Jack, he really cares. He's got that kind of laid back kind of spirit, like that LB, you know what I mean? When it gets real, when the guns go off and when the fire starts and the crashes and the intensity goes, you can sense that he's ready for that moment and I'm ready to play for him."
On the other side of the ball, Derek Carr will see a lot of offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave who is a former QB coach as well. Musgrave was a star quarterback at University of Oregon before playing six seasons in the NFL with the 49ers and Broncos.
Carr has now met all his coaches and his impression was that these former players are the kind of guys he'd like to have his back in a fight.
"First thing I thought was ‘he played before'." Said Carr of Del Rio. "That's the first thing I thought. Really with our whole coaching staff we'd win a lot of fights with our coaching staff."
The only fighting the coaches will (hopefully) be doing is in the metaphorical sense win football games. If it helps the players respect of their ability to teach them the nuances of the game to know their coaches have been there and done that, it could go a long way on game day.