In case you hadn't noticed already, there's a new energy in Raiders camp this year. And the nuclear reactor that powers it is new defensive coordinator, Ken Norton Jr. He is loud and boisterous and treats every day like game day.
"I always kind of pattern my coaching after how I played and I'm gonna approach it that way with a lot of energy, with a lot of enthusiasm," said Norton. "I really enjoy what I do and it's contagious to my players."
"I'm naturally that way. From the way I am and being around the coaching staffs in the past year. A lot of energy and enthusiasm. There's only one way how to do it."
The players as well as the entire coaching staff has taken to Norton's style and words like "passion" and "energy" are thrown around liberally by the players when asked about the difference this season to last.
This "energy" starts the moment Norton hops out of bed in the morning (I assume he literally hops out of bed) until he hits the rack at night.
"A lot of energy from getting breakfast in the morning," said TJ Carrie. "Them yelling and screaming at you at breakfast is something that you definitely get used to and accustomed to. We might have ten minutes left of breakfast to eat and they're coming in there giving us three minutes left. So, they're yelling ‘You had all morning to eat breakfast! It's time to work!' so just little antics like that is something you enjoy and have fun and you wake up and you're excited to go to work each and every day."
It occurred to me as a military veteran myself that perhaps Norton's style stems from a military mindset.
"My father was in the military, my grandfather was and my great uncle was," Norton responded. "There's some military influence, but I just love ball. And I just know how to do it one way - a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and I think if you love what you do, it's not work. You just wake up clapping and you just go to work."
The key to making this work is the players buying in. Earlier this week Del Rio emphasized the importance of buying in to change the culture of the team.
"It's the first thing you have to do, is change the mindset, the mentality and the buy-in is a part of that," said Del Rio. "You have to be methodic. You're not going to operate with one vision, as one heartbeat, so it's imperative that we get on the same page."
Page one of the book on the 2015 Raiders as Norton describes it is all about fire. And it goes from there.
"I want them to know that we coach effort first," said Norton. "What are they made of. How hard are you playing? When you guys watch them play, I want them to jump off the film that these guys really want it. They're really playing hard."
With effort must come discipline and knowing one's assignments in the scheme. What Norton has done to accomplish this is the not overload them with everything at once. He wants them to perfect one thing before moving onto the next.
"It all fits in together," he said. "You have passion, energy, and effort because you love ball, but you also gotta be smart, you gotta know what you're doing. . . You can't just have scheme and a bunch of guys who don't want to play or a bunch of guys who do want to play, but don't know what they're doing. It's a combination of the talent, and the passion, and each guy working together and understanding their connection across the board."
"I've always known that you get really good at one thing, and you get really good at it and then you go to the next thing. And it's important that they understand that no one is going to outplay us, no one is going to out-effort us, no one's going to out-scheme us and these guys are going to know exactly where you are, you know the connection between everybody."
There is no question the team has bought into this mindset. There are several veterans who can help deliver that message to the younger players. Coach effort and energy first because it's the one thing every player can control. These Raiders have plenty of that.