Better Football Through Team Chemistry: How the Raiders Built a Contender

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Aug 12, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oakland Raiders guard Kelechi Osemele (70) against the Arizona Cardinals during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In the background, the most successful teams all enjoy the same characteristic. Chemistry is the mortar that holds winning franchises together. In addition, unity in the locker room breeds a long-term winning environment. Beneath the stats, plays and quotes, cohesion rules the team. If they can’t trust a player, whether on or off the field to maintain professionalism, teams fall apart. Luckily, the Raiders are blessed with leaders on both sides of the ball. Each prevent past Raider incidents of misconduct persist.

United Front: Now, stories of Raiders discord rarely reach the press. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that with coaches run a tight ship. No foolishness seems tolerated. Case in point, would former Raiders receiver Jerry Porter’s antics fly today? Porter, a former second round pick lasted years in Oakland. Yet, people remember him for his behavior. Porter parked in Al Davis’ spot, cheered when the quarterback suffered a sack and openly called out coaches. Through all of this, the team allowed him to stay. Now, Reggie McKenzie and Jack Del Rio would send him packing immediately.


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Sound structure: Say what you will about Mark Davis, he never uses the blinker and stays in his lane. As a result, he leaves football matters to Reggie McKenzie. McKenzie is the unquestioned administrative head of the organization. Players and agents deal with one person.  In return, McKenzie lets Del Rio handle the on-field product.

Sio Moore started twenty-two games in two years for the Raiders. Reggie McKenzie selected Moore 66th overall in 2013. Yet, the light never turned on for him and Oakland shipped him to the Colts. Since then, Moore bounced from Indy to Kansas City, before latching on with Arizona. That’s three teams within one season.

Self-policing: Inside the Raiders’ locker room, players on both sides of the ball maintain order. To demonstrate, remember the photo of Marquette King and Aqib Talib? Talib appears to pull King’s chain, mocking the incident between himself and Michael Crabtree. King posted the photo, prompting Bruce Irvin to respond. Safe to say, Irvin and King will have a face to face discussion in the next eight weeks or so.

If Irvin doesn’t respond, look for Kelechi Osemele to voice his opinion. Osemele welcomed Jihad Ward with the tough love of exchanging punches during a practice last summer. Osemele is a tone setter and the offensive line dictates the game’s pace. Moreover, they probably have strong say in the locker room.

All things considered, the Raiders operate a clean, drama-free environment. For instance, the Raiders own the longest current streak of no player arrests. That is no accident. Through painstaking research, Oakland ensures they field players with little to no baggage. With a franchise on the verge of a deep playoff run, any cracks in the foundation will not be tolerated.

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