SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders’ one-game-at-a-time mentality is being challenged this week. They’re predominantly focused on being the Dolphins Sunday night in Miami, but the season’s halfway point demands a good, long look at the big picture.
The Raiders were 3-5 in a disastrous first half. They’ve eliminated margin for error, and know full well a Herculean effort’s required to get back in the playoff hunt.
They have to go on a massive winning streak, with no delay. A 7-1 finish is required for double digits wins. That’s generally what it takes to make the playoffs.
The Raiders sit three games behind Kansas City in the AFC West, and are behind 13 total teams in the AFC.
“If you just look at the numbers, you pretty much have to get 10 wins to get into the playoffs, sometimes more than that,” receiver Amari Cooper said. “So, where we’re sitting at now, we can only possibly get 11, so of course we’re going to have to stack up these wins.”
Derek Carr wants to raise practice intensity. He wants lower tolerance for mistakes, and a sense of urgency in everything the Raiders do. He hopes that will get the Raiders playing to their potential, only on display twice this season.
Head coach Jack Del Rio says the Raiders need their mojo back, a swagger and confidence that comes from doing things right.
“We have to get back to winning, just being us and playing fast,” safety Reggie Nelson said. “Jack has high expectations for us, and they should be high. We have a lot of work to do. That’s what we plan on doing in an attempt to turn this thing around. It’s no secret that we’re running out of time.”
The mood is high, and spirits remain up as they Raiders prepare in a swanky Sarasota, Fla., hotel. They understand that it’s now or never.
One win won’t get them back in the hunt. Several in a row are required for a unit that hasn’t been consistent.
There’s a real push to start winning now.
“We have to set our minds to going to reach this goal if we want to do it,” linebacker NaVorro Bowman said. “I think we have the guys here to do it, we just have to hone in and play a full 60-minute game, and understand it’s not going to be easy. We have to go and take it. If we do that, guys step up to the plate and do what those guys need to do, we’ll be fine.”