The past decade has yielded more lows than highs for the Las Vegas Raiders. The team has shown promise at times but has only produced one winning season since 2002. Headed into Jon Gruden’s fourth year as the Raiders coach, players and fans alike are eager for a culture change. After addressing woes on the depth chart this offseason, voluntary OTA’s are now fully underway. With the playoffs consistently out of reach, Clelin Ferrell’s expectations for the 2021 NFL season are coming to light.
Ferrell Addresses Losing Ways
One of the issues Las Vegas has dealt with is the slow growth and development of recent first-round selections. A former fourth overall selection, Ferrell, held nothing back when speaking for himself and his peers. “All of us are tired of losing,” he stated via Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Ferrell, drafted in 2019, has been a part of a Raiders defense that has received hefty criticisms as of late. Focused on improvement in a new system, Ferrell elaborated on his concerns, “ It’s not just the fact that we’re losing, it’s the fact that we’re right there to the playoffs and just can’t get over the hump.”
Yet to live up to his first-round label, Ferrell says the negativity is not nurturing, rather motivation to right the Raiders course. “The question is what to do with it,” Ferrell stated “You take it and evaluate it. When you break it down, it’s people who don’t wake up and do what we do every single day, speaking on what we do every single day.” Ferrell insinuated that not all criticisms come from a place of experience as well, saying “We understand people have opinions, but you can’t tell me how to drive a car you never drove. That’s how I look at it.” Time will be the judge as to if this attitude produces positive results.
Ferrell Excited by Fresh Faces
With Paul Guenther’s departure, comes Gus Bradley into the fold. Bradley’s claim to fame was his coaching and assembly of the 2013 “Legion of Boom” in Seattle. Early in camp, Bradley is already winning over his players on his unit. Ferrell spoke highly of Bradley’s character stating, “ The biggest thing with Coach Bradley is he’s a good dude, you know what I mean? And I think that makes you want to play for a guy and give him more.” Ferrell has had inconsistency in former schemes and should find improvement playing in a more suitable system.
Similarly, Ferrell raved about fellow lineman and rookie, Darius Stills. “I don’t really evaluate guys until we put the pads on, but a guy I like a lot is Darius Stills, the undrafted rookie from West Virginia,” Ferrell said. “Real, real good dude with a lot of twitch. You could just tell from his movements in the drills he’s got a little something to it. I like his game.” Stills will try to live up to his father’s 10 year NFL career. After releasing David Irving, Stills could see more reps and land himself on an NFL roster as well. His colleague Ferrell is already campaigning for just that.
Personal Expectations for 2021
Off-season camps present a lot of opportunities for players to improve going into the regular season. When asked about his biggest focus for improvement, Ferrell didn’t shy away from his inadequacies, “The biggest thing for me man, is just my IQ.” A new system will mean new plays and schemes for Ferrell to learn. He went on to clarify that he wants to be versed in his craft saying, “Not just my get off and my athleticism, but do I know slide protections, do I know where the center is going, do I know when I got the one-on-one.” Skillset is not all it takes to produce in the NFL and Ferrell is honing in on the more studious side of his game.
If the Las Vegas Raiders are to improve from the monotony that is falling just shy of the playoffs, it starts in camp. Clelin Ferrell’s expectations for the 2021 season give hope and shine a light on what is to come. An open-door policy and positive conversation with teammates and coaches is the foundation for a successful season. One can only hope these comments motivate a heightened level of play for the Raiders in the upcoming season.
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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports