Al Davis’ mantra was “Just win, baby.”
Jack Del Rio’s seems to be “Just win, now.”
The new head coach of the Oakland Raiders has inherited a 3-13 team, but wants to go all out to win as soon as possible. He wants nothing to do with a long, drawn-out, slow climb to respectability.
When interviewed on the nationally syndicated “Jim Rome Show” last week, Del Rio was asked what kind of timetable he saw for Oakland becoming a winner.
“I’m not very patient, so we’re going to need to turn it around quickly,” he told Rome. “I don’t expect to come in here and look for excuses why we can’t get it done. I’m looking for reasons why we will.”
He cited his experience as a player in Dallas, when he and Ken Norton Jr. were linebackers on a Cowboys team that went from 1-15 to the Super Bowl in three seasons.
“If you look at how many players three years later were hoisting a Super Bowl trophy, a good number of those players were on that roster at that time,” he said. “So you just can’t look and come into a situation like this and dismiss it and say there are no players there. There are players on every team across the legue that can play. Our job is to add those players, some quality, some competition, some structure and then strive for the excellence.”
It was coach Jimmy Johnson’s first year with the Cowboys, and he was able to build on a core of young players to turn Dallas into a perennial contender.
Quarterback Troy Aikman was on that 1989 team, along with Del Rio and Norton. Other top talents included future Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, Herschel Walker (soon traded for a wealth of draft picks that helped turn the franchise into a winner), young linebacker Eugene Lockhart, fullback Daryl Johnston and center Mark Stepnoski.
So, Del Rio has seen that it can be done. A key, of course, will be for the Raiders to have another outstanding draft and to make some smart decisions in free agency this offseason.
Del Rio may not succeed – many others have failed to turn the Raiders around over the past decade – but he’s certainly optimistic and determined.
After going 1-15 in 1989, the Cowboys went 7-9, then 11-5 and then 13-3 to win the Super Bowl.
Said Del Rio, to Rome: “You’re going to add up, you’re going to get people, you’re going to collect them, but it becomes a team and when you share a vision and when you go out there and you fight together for each other, you can accomplish special things.”