What a week. To cap it off, the Las Vegas Raiders are headed to Denver for their second AFC West matchup of the season in Week 6. The Denver Broncos, like the Raiders, are 3-2. They are also coming off a two-game losing streak. Second place in the AFC West is up for grabs, and the winner could move into a tie with the Los Angeles Chargers if they lose to the Baltimore Ravens today.
On top of that, we will see interim head coach Rich Bisaccia in action for the first time in his new role. This week has a lot on the line. Let’s take a look at three factors that can help propel the Raiders to a division win.
Adversity, adversity, adversity
The Raiders organization and this year’s players are no stranger to adversity. They know it well, and they welcome it with open arms. After an unprecedented week, the Raiders seem to be embracing all the adversity thrown their way, and they’re ready to move on.
“Adversity introduces a man to himself,” DE Maxx Crosby said on Tuesday.
QB Derek Carr is ready to lead his team in Denver under his sixth NFL head coach, which doesn’t seem to phase him. Carr told reporters on Thursday he knows the team still has a job to do, no matter what that looks like.
It’s only natural for the players to be experiencing emotions and feelings they never have before. They have been in the spotlight all week, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Analysts, reporters, other coaches, and rival players have all addressed the situation happening for the Raiders right now.
Carr himself called it the “biggest story in sports,” something that has rung true every moment since. Is it possible these emotions carry over into Sunday’s game? Of course it is.
So, what can the Raiders players do to ensure that doesn’t happen in their Week 6 matchup? They can support and motivate one another. Carr said this week that he must continue checking in with his teammates and ensuring they have the space to process whatever they need. GM Mike Mayock also said his players could compartmentalize. They know the job they have to do, and now it’s time to do it. After all, they know that the most important thing to have is each other.
The Raiders team this season has always come across to the public as a brotherhood, an unbreakable bond between a team that has been through a lot. This week, they have a chance to reignite the fire that led them to 3-0. They have an opportunity to play for something more than just a win. On Sunday, they can show the NFL that they can be a serious contender, no matter who is in their ear on game day.
Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia
Rich Bisaccia, a 38-year coaching veteran, is ready to coach his first game as an NFL head coach. GM Mike Mayock says he has endorsed Bisaccia for several head coaching jobs over the years, and now the two get a chance to lead the Raiders together, starting in Week 6.
Bisaccia was emotional talking about what it meant to him to be the head coach of the Raiders. One thing, however, has been evident to Raider Nation this week: Bisaccia was the best choice for interim head coach.
Current and former Raiders players have expressed their respect and admiration for Bisaccia throughout the week. It seems there is no more well-respected man in the locker room, and this week he finally has the chance to prove himself as a head coach.
Bisaccia has a world of pressure on his shoulders as the Raiders travel to Denver. The Raiders need this win, and Bisaccia is confident they can get it.
Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson
Due to the departure of Jon Gruden, offensive coordinator Greg Olson will be calling plays for Derek Carr and the offense for the remainder of the season. Olson says Gruden would give him “suggestions” when play calling, something he will no longer have.
Carr made it clear this week that he has all the trust in the world in Olson, or “Oly,” as the players call him.
The Raiders have failed to score on the opening drive of their last 11 games under the play calling of Gruden and Olson together. This week, that needs to change. The team and coaches all have a will to win on Sunday that is unlike any other. After a loss to the Bears last week, Oly and the Raiders must come out of the gate ready to go in Week 6.
Raider Nation will also be looking closely at Olson‘s play calling on third and fourth downs. The Raiders have struggled to convert on third downs all season due to multiple rushing play calls that failed.
Raider Nation and the Las Vegas organization have had a week to remember. This Sunday in Denver, they have a chance to leave that behind and show the world that they are still a competitive team. As Mayock graciously said on Wednesday, “All our goals are ahead of us.”
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