The part of this off-season that has captivated me the most is the difference between a rookie coach and a veteran one. It is a night and day experience watching a new coach come in and take over the operations so flawlessly. It already feels like it is truly Jack Del Rio's team.
Del Rio's messages have been succinct, they have been direct, and there is no doubt who holds the power here between the coaches and the players. That is a nice change from the Dennis Allen era and even to the Hue Jackson and Tom Cable era's as well. All three of the last coaches for the Raiders were first time head coaches that were feeling their way through the process of heading a team.
That has not at all been the case so far in the Jack Del Rio era though, not even in the slightest. It feels like the team has hit the ground running right from the very start. From the opening press conference, through the draft, and now through the last mini-camp it has been a fluid motion that has really shown a fully contemplated plan.
There are things that all rookie coaches will end up going through, the growing pains of figuring out a new job are completely unavoidable. It isn't a surprise that having a coach come in with 9 years head coaching experience, several years as an assistant coach, and 11 years as a player in the league is different. With so much experience under Del Rio's belt already of course it should be different.
What it is instead of a surprise is refreshing. This team has been stuck in transition modes or worse for years now. This is another transition but it simply doesn't feel like it. Jack Del Rio has already begun putting his stamp and his personality into the Raiders and it has made it feel like an established team instead of one in yet another transition. That alone is quite the accomplishment.
After the years of Dennis Allen who never overcame his lack of experience as a head coach, and the two previous first time head coaches in Hue Jackson and Tom Cable, it is about as different as it comes to have a seasoned veteran leading the team. The team feels very driven already and ready to surprise some people in the upcoming season.
The DA era might have been a complete dud, but Cable and Jackson both had 8-8 seasons with the Raiders despite having their rookie growing pains. Del Rio is going to really have to do well when the season starts to do better than .500, but every year is new and anything can happen. Even with their successes, it still didn't feel like an established team under Hue Jackson and Tom Cable like it already does now under Jack Del Rio.
We have no idea what is going to happen when the time comes to see real action but this off-season has been a very good start to it either way. The team has been sent on their way to their 6 week break before training camp with a direct message to stay out of trouble and come ready to build on the foundation that has already been built.Hopefully they listen to Del Rio and come back ready to compete, if they don't they will regret it in the new era of Raiders football.