Oakland Raiders Plan to Be ‘Cutting Edge’ in 2015 Is Step in Right Direction

There are 31 teams in the NFL…and there are the Oakland Raiders.

For nearly 30 years, being the eccentric renegades served the Raiders well on the field. Then something called free agency came along and the game changed, and the Raiders failed to change with it. When owner Al Davis died, the Raiders leaped 20 years into the future. If the last three years are any indication, they are still way behind.

The Raiders took a huge step in the right direction Monday by hiring four people to run their strength and conditioning program—some with reputations as being unorthodox. It was an action that backed up new head coach Jack Del Rio’s statement to Rich Eisen of the NFL Network that the Raiders would be “cutting edge” with how they train the players.

Rod Woodson re-joining the staff overshadowed them, but Woodson won’t affect every player on the roster like the strength and conditioning staff. Best of all, the Raiders now have an opportunity to renew their inner renegade in some small way, but to do so by daring to push forward instead of living in the past.

At one time, Al Davis was an innovator. He pushed AFL teams to sign the best players so the NFL couldn’t put them out of business, scouted predominantly black colleges for talent and helped bring the vertical passing game to prominence.

If the Raiders want to return to their winning ways, they simply can’t be one of the other 31 teams, because that’s not part of the team’s identity. They have to dare to be different to be great, because ultimately that is the Raider way. The best way to honor Al Davis isn’t to do things as he did, but to win football games.

Del Rio seemed keenly aware of this when Eisen asked how he would instill the old-school Raiders mentality in the 21st century the way Al Davis would want him to:

We respect and honor what came before u...

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