Week 8, a bye week for Las Vegas, turned out to be much more than relaxation and healing. Week 8 brought many of the best scenarios imaginable for this Raiders team. The Los Angeles Chargers lost at home, which brought their record to 4-3. The number one seed in the AFC, the Cincinnati Bengals, also lost, bringing their record to 5-3. These losses put Las Vegas in the second seed position in the AFC going into Week 9.
Week 9 however, has brought more adversity to an already resilient Raiders organization. The loss of former WR Henry Ruggs III has echoed through the league as new details emerge each day. A bye week should bring rest, health, and a new will to win, so how do the Raiders come back stronger?
Derek Carr and the Raiders have long told the tune of being one of the closest-knit teams in football. They have formed a brotherhood many teams can only dream of and unfortunately, that is partially due to the amount of adversity they have faced together.
Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia spoke about that adversity Wednesday.
“I felt like we moved on from what happened before [with Jon Gruden’s resignation] and we’ve had a chance to play two games,” Bisaccia said. “And now we’ve been confronted with this situation. As grown men we all have to respond in a certain way.”
“We’re all forging our identity in life, and certainly in the locker room, through how we face adversity and how we deal with adversity. That’s kind of how life goes.”
The Raiders lost their head coach earlier in the season and have now lost Ruggs III. The team rallied behind their interim head coach and have gone 2-0 since Jon Gruden’s resignation, an accomplishment many members attribute to their fellow teammates. The Raiders have offered each other unwavering support and guidance and it shows on the field.
Responding to losing their leader was an already tall task, but losing a teammate is another beast entirely. As the Raiders returned to practice Wednesday, they again had to rally behind each other to get through this week. Ensuring they have an unwavering support system will be the focus.
“From a football aspect, every man in that locker room kind of feels the same way, but we have work to do,” Derek Carr said Wednesday. “We had to come out and practice. We had film study Monday and Tuesday. We have all of these things that we still have to do. I don’t know the right way to handle it, but I’m doing my best.”
Bisaccia said last week that the Raiders organization has been prioritizing mental health this year, an effort sure to continue through the remainder of the season.
Four Full Quarters
As the Raiders eventually return to the field, it is crucial they begin to play four quarter football. This season, second half success has been the story. While that has worked well for the team, they need to start off strong to win down the stretch.
The next four weeks will bring many challenges as the Raiders take on the Chiefs, Bengals and Cowboys, all of whom are sitting at .500 or better. Success in the second half of the season will need to take a more aggressive tone, and that starts in the first quarter.
The Raiders have gone 12 of the last 13 games without an opening drive score. The one game they did, they had the lead the entire four quarters and took home a convincing win. Derek Carr has proven time and time again that he has the ability to lead the offense to convincing, multi-score wins. His presence and leadership will be priceless for the Raiders as they work to start games off stronger than they have been so far this season.
It’s no question that the Raiders have proved to the NFL that they won’t go down without a fight. This week will be no exception. As the Raiders return from their bye week, they have another chip on their shoulder, but the bond between the team is sure to carry them wherever they need to go for four full quarters.
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