Pretty much all NFL teams have had to go through a very unique offseason. From top to bottom, all have had to deal with very particular circumstances. However, the Las Vegas Raiders needed to deal with one thing few others did. During such hectic times, they had to deal with the nuances that come with relocating.
The Raiders are going through a process other NFL teams aren’t
This was a very unusual offseason for all NFL teams for a myriad of reasons. The first one was the Covid-19 Pandemic, which limited the amount of contact and practice time organizations could have. Second, the protests all around the United States. Players, coaches, and executives have taken a stand, and whichever side of the specter you are in, you can’t deny the social unrest has had an impact.
Nevertheless, the Raiders have also needed to adjust to playing in Sin City. All NFL teams will play with very few fans or no fans at all, but only the Raiders moved from one state to another. The Chargers and the Rams will play at a new stadium, but they won’t have to relocate. Both teams were already playing in Southern California, the Chargers at Digital Health Sports Park, and the Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
To the Raiders’ credit, they aren’t making a big deal of it, and even if it doesn’t seem like it, moving can be a taxing process. Just ask the Rams, which finished 4-12 the year they moved to Los Angeles. Other teams, such as the Memphis Oilers and the Chargers in 2017 finished their first year in their new home with better records. Nonetheless, moving took a toll on them and left them with little energy to play football.
The heat of Las Vegas is nothing to mess with
Head coach Jon Gruden recently talked about all the things the Raiders needed to just to in his latest conference. He started with the climate conditions of Las Vegas city. He signaled the difference between training in California and Nevada.
“You have to adapt day after day after day. Number one, to the weather. We were supposed to be in Nappa, California, where we’re accustomed to a certain weather, being in the dessert is different. We practiced at 7:30 AM, I don’t know any team in the history of the NFL that has practiced at 7:30 to beat the heat.”
Ok, so the team had to practice earlier, but what about the players that have partaken in team activities? It may not look like much of a difference, but having 10 fewer players chances the logistics of practice.
“Normally, we have 90 players at the start of camp. We started training camp with 80. When you get eight or nine guys hurt, you gotta really be careful. You had no preseason games, so there was no down time for some of the veteran players to get off their legs.”
Gruden is proud of the whole team in the middle of so much turmoil
The Raiders and all NFL teams had to adapt to the fact they had to maximize the very limited time they had with the players. Whatever activities they spread through the Spring and Summer in past years were now held in just a month.
“Years past, they’ve had three days off during the week with the travel, with the preseason games and the day off. It’s been one adaptation after another and we had no Spring practice. We had to fast track a lot of these players and we didn’t even know many of these guys. The first time I met Cory Littleton was when he walked in his uniform with a helmet on the first day.”
In the end, Gruden made sure to point out the players and the staff have done a good job amid all the adjustments.
“We made really great progress, I’m really proud of our coaches. I’m really proud of our veteran players, we have some emerging young guys I think this franchise will be proud about.”
We don’t know how the Raiders 2020 season will play out. However, Gruden and the team are doing all they can in order not to let things they have no control over affect their performance.
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