No season is recent memory has created as much buzz about the Raiders than this one. The Raiders are the media darlings as the up and coming team to finally break through to make a playoff run after 13 years of utter futility.
That creates some pressure, but mostly it creates excitement. Of course from the fans, but also from the team itself as well. They feel how talented they are and a rearing to get out there and prove it, starting this Sunday with the Saints in the season opener in New Orleans.
"Certainly, football is a very emotional sport," said Del Rio. "I think teams can get hot and get feeling good about the way they're doing things and it can go the other. I think that's what you... You want to build a team that's very consistent in its approach and kind of flatten out those things and not really try to play on pure emotion, but try to play on preparation and effort and go out there and compete every play."
Another potential issue could be overzealousness. It's similar to the issue the team was claiming to have on defense this preseason - trying to do too much. If they get ahead of themselves, it could mean a repeat of their season opener in 2015 when they were beaten badly by the Bengals 33-13. That was Jack Del Rio's first game as head coach of the Raiders and not the way he wanted to begin his tenure.
"Opening days are always very exciting," said Del Rio. "Great opportunity to go out and express who we are and what we stand for, what we believe in and how we're going to play football in 2016. We got an obvious reminder of last year when despite all those intentions, we went out and didn't really play well to start the year. We collected ourselves and we had a solid year, but clearly we'd like to start 2016 a little better than we did 2015."
That game was a disaster on so many levels. Derek Carr tried showing off his wheels as well as his stiff arm and ended up knocking himself out of the game. New starter Nate Allen was lost for most of the season and Charles Woodson dislocated his shoulder late in a game that was already lost.
"There's starting to get a little excitement, there's starting to be this [and that]," said Carr. "We got so excited [last year] and ready to play and we just got, I don't know if over the top is the right word, but we did in that first game. I just remember we came back after that game, turned the film on and we just had to take a deep breath."
As much as such an experience stings, Carr may be all the better for having it. He says it's much easier for him as well as his returning teammates to manage their emotions and have more even keeled approach as his head coach hopes to see.
"This year, it's just like we're all going to work," said Carr. "It feels like the feeling preparing for this game is like a feeling we had during last year midseason. That's how it feels. . . It's not like, ‘We have to do this and...' It's none of that. We're just playing football, man."
Providing the entire team - Carr included - actually take the field with that mindset, they will have their best chance of playing up to their potential. But that also means maintaining that same discipline when/if things start going sour. Like Mike Tyson famously said "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
As for you, the fans - get as out of your mind excited as you want. Football is back tonight. And Raiders football is just three days away.