Raiders' Jack Del Rio: You can't fake confidence, you earn it

SARASOTA, Fla. -- So here the Oakland Raiders sit, at 5-2 overall, 4-0 on the road and in a first-place tie in the AFC West with the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos.

And it’s not enough. Nor, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio would charge, should the Raiders be satisfied heading into this week’s game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“Yeah, I like that part,” he said Monday at his weekly news conference, this time in a ballroom at a swank beachside resort as the Raiders stay in Florida for the week. “I like the fact that we recognize it. I’m certainly going to point it out. There are things that we have to do better. I think it’s healthy. I think you should enjoy the wins. You should feel good about the success. Take pride in it. We worked hard for it.

“But to have a healthy respect for what’s coming and the need to play better and the need to continue to grow as a football team as we go throughout the year, that’s a mature way to look at it, and I’m very pleased about that with a younger team.”

Del Rio was referencing several of his players saying in the aftermath of Sunday’s feel-good 33-16 defeat of the Jacksonville Jaguars they still had much to improve upon.

“So far, man, so far,” said All-Pro defensive end/outside linebacker Khalil Mack, when asked if it was the most complete defensive effort Oakland had produced thus far.

“It can only get better, and that’s the process. Get better week by week. Go out there and practice and get ready for Tampa Bay this week.”

The Raiders still have the lowest-ranked total defense in the NFL, giving up an average of 430.4 yards per game, and they are still allowing a league-worst 6.7 yards per play. But against the Jaguars, Oakland surrendered a season-low 344 yards of offense and did not allow the Jaguars to score a touchdown until late in the fourth quarter.

“The goal is to keep them out of the end zone for 60 minutes,” said Mack, who picked up his team-leading third sack of the season. “That’s what we’re working on. We’ve got the guys who can do it.”

And that was in question a week earlier after a team-wide meltdown in a 26-10 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

“For sure, for sure, everybody had a bad taste in their mouth and this was huge for us to come out and hold it down on defense for our offense,” Mack added. “It was huge for us.”

Indeed, Del Rio said all three phases -- offense, defense and special teams -- contributed in the victory and that the building confidence around the team is palpable, and restrained.

“You can’t fake confidence,” Del Rio said. “I think you earn that by playing well, playing together, by the work you put in, by the preparation that you have. I think that gives you confidence going into any situation, that you can execute.

“Then when you do execute, I think it kind of builds on itself. It’s all about the work and all about the preparation and all about the attention to detail and that’s what our guys are giving us right now.”