In 2002, Rod Woodson helped the Raiders to a Super Bowl appearance.
Oakland hasn’t made the playoffs since.
“It has been a long time,” the 51-year-old NFL Hall of Famer and Raiders assistant said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “That’s a real long time. But I think we’re heading in the right direction. I think coach Jack Del Rio has a great vision of what this team should look like. I think he put a really good staff together. I think he’s assembling some really good players here who fit the mold of what he wants a Raider to be – a guy that’s kind of self-driven, a guy that’s able to sacrifice and be disciplined. Those type of guys are going to be Raiders.”
The Raiders went 7-9 last season, this after winning seven games in the previous two seasons combined. Not only did they beat the Broncos in Denver, but they were also competitive in most of their games, as five of their nine losses were by six points or fewer.
Needless to say, expectations in Oakland will be sky-high this season. The Raiders, however, aren’t tempering those expectations; they’re embracing them.
“I think the expectations for us is going to be higher than maybe what everybody else’s is,” Woodson said. “We have a good young team. I think we only have five players over the age of 30. We have a young football team. But with that being said, I think we have some veterans. I think teams that are normally really good have that mix of youth and veteran leadership. We think that we can be pretty good. I think last year, we showed – and I think they showed themselves – that they can win. I think they were just so young they couldn’t figure out how to win and close out games. But having that experience all last year – we were really in every game that we had outside of that first game against Cincinnati – I think they started believing that anytime they stepped on the football field that they can beat the opposing team. That’s a key. I think you got to have confidence, you got to have self-belief, before you step on the field if you want to win.”
The relocation saga, of course, will be a not-so-subtle backdrop to the 2016 season, with the Raiders potentially on the move next year.
Woodson said the players and coaches aren’t worried about that.
“That’s above our pay grade,” he said. “We get paid to coach, the players get paid to play and perform on game days. If we stay here, that’d be great. If we move to Vegas, that’d be great. If we move to L.A. or San Diego, that’d be great. It really wouldn’t matter if we’re coaching in Oakland or we’re coaching in a parking lot in the middle of the desert. We’re still going go out there and coach, and our players would still go out there and try to play their best football.”
Las Vegas has been touted as a possible destination for the Raiders, and Woodson believes that the NFL – regardless of the optics of moving a franchise to the gambling capital of the world – would be on board.
“There’s casinos all over the place,” Woodson said. “So what’s the difference of having a team in Las Vegas? I think nobody from the league office has said no, so that means they’re not against it. If they were against it, they would let you know. I think a great thing is if a team is there – even if it’s not the Raiders – I think that’s going to be a destination for visiting teams. Now you can do one-stop shop. We can go to Vegas for the first time ever and watch my team play. I think it’d be a good destination for a nice weekend.”