The Oakland Raiders have almost completely overhauled their roster two years in a row. From filling out depth with one-year contracts to cutting veterans who had been overpaid for far too long, the attrition rate among the Raiders roster has been severe. Now that the Raiders finally have their cap situation under control and an almost full complement of draft picks, they can finally end the deconstruction and begin rebuilding.
But owner Mark Davis is looking for more than just an improved roster, he wants to see the Raiders establish an identity. In an interview with San Francisco Chronicle’s beat reporter Vic Tafur, Davis discussed the Super Bowl and the impressive performance by the Seattle Seahawks defense:
It was a scientific dismantling of Peyton Manning. They’re showing how to do it. I was intensely interested. The Seahawks looked like the old Raiders on defense. Tough. Confident. Four-man rush. Not a lot of blitzing. Just beat them up.
Seeing Davis wax poetic about the days when the Raiders were a dominant force in the NFL was somewhat surprising. Since his father, the legendary Al Davis, passed away, Raiders fans have watched the franchise change in many ways — most of which for the better. But one of the biggest changes has been the drastic increase in blitzes the Raiders now use. Head coach Dennis Allen comes from New Orleans, where the blitz was used frequently and with great success.
So why was Davis so excited to see how the Seahawks play? Not necessarily because he wants the Raiders to play that way, but rather that he wants to see the Raiders establish an identity the way that Seattle has.
When discussing the number five draft pick, Davis twice invoked the “identity” word:
We have to find somebody in the draft or in free agency that is going to be the identity of the Raiders. I don’t know if we really have an identity now.
He then went back to that idea when discussing the roster changes that have occurred on the team over the past couple of years:
Absolutely. The deconstruction part has been done very well. I am just not sure that we put pieces in place. Like I said, I am still looking for the identity of this franchise.
Throughout the interview, Davis showed that while he is willing to be patient he also firmly believes that the Raiders can and should turn things around. Now that the need to purge the roster of big contracts has past, the Raiders can focus on building the team they want. For Davis, it doesn’t seem to matter what the team resembles so long as it has a clear direction. Whether it be a dominant defense like the Seahawks or a prominent offense like the Broncos, it’s clear Davis is more than ready to attach a clear identity to his era.