The Las Vegas Raiders are 2-0 for a lot of reasons.
Quarterback Derek Carr is playing at an MVP level. His receivers are making timely plays. Defensive end Maxx Crosby is playing like a monster and new coordinator Gus Bradley has the defense playing much better. The team, as a whole, is thriving heading into Week 3.
Still, coach Jon Gruden thinks his team’s winning ways extend beyond the field. Gruden said this week he believes one of the reasons why the team has started the season so successfully is because of the character of the players on the roster.
“I think it’s the kind of players that are here. Forget about the talent for a minute,” Gruden said. “One of the things I always felt in football is certain teams have a brotherhood, certain teams don’t. You can try to make it a family, brotherhood-like atmosphere, but sometimes it’s impossible to do. These guys in this locker room are more than just teammates, they’re brothers. They pull for each other, they lean on each other, and they challenge each other. And I think that is something we’re more proud of than anything. We got a lot of guys that enjoy coming in here and providing the extra effort that it takes to have a chance to win games like we’re winning right now ... We have a lot of veteran players in our locker room and as I said earlier, I think there is a lot of maturity in there. They realize it was a great win at home against Baltimore, it was a great win on the road, and they also know they got a great challenge with the Dolphins. They are coming off a tough loss and, in this league, you really don’t like to see teams that are coming off a tough loss. So, I’m not going to get overly worried about getting a big head or anything like that. We’re taking this one game at a time.”
Since coming back to the Raiders in 2018, Gruden has rebuilt the team. When he hired Mike Mayock to become the team’s general managers at the end of the 2018 season, the two made it clear drafting and signing high-character players who could handle living in the bright lights of Las Vegas was a priority. Clearly, that approach is paying dividends.
“It makes it fun to come in and coach,” Gruden said. “When you’re a teacher and you come in and have students that are actually looking at you and taking notes when you’re talking, they might learn something. You might help a guy get an A+ or an A, and you feel good as a teacher. We got guys that like to come in here and they demand that you give them some instruction on how to win a game and how to improve as a player. And I think that’s a key ingredient, five-star character. Everybody talks about five-star talent, ‘He’s a five-star talent.’ No one talks about five-star character, and we got a lot of that here and that’s a big reason why we’re winning.”