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Raiders captains address issues after 0-3 start in team meeting

Updated September 30, 2022 - 2:41 pm

The Raiders had just lost their third straight game to start the season, falling to the Tennessee Titans after a dreadful first-half performance. So, sensing the importance of the moment, the captains decided a team meeting was immediately needed.

The objective wasn’t to assess blame but rather to find answers, said quarterback Derek Carr, one of the captains, of the Sunday meeting.

“You never want to be someone that comes in the building and creates problems,” Carr said. “You want to be someone that comes in and solves problems.”

Tight end Darren Waller welcomed the opportunity from the captains to ward off any bad energy beginning to fester.

“I feel like it’s definitely important not to get into any finger-pointing or let any division kind of creep in,” Waller said. “There’s a lot of respect here, a lot of love for one another, and just because the results haven’t gone our way yet, it doesn’t mean that needs to go out the window. In order for us to really do what we want to do and build some consistency with some positivity, we’ve got to stay together.”

The meeting was frank, challenging and uplifting, Waller said.

“We’ve got to provide that space for people to be honest, but also mix in some love with that honesty,” he said.

The Raiders had high expectations for the season. They reunited Carr and Davante Adams, one of the NFL’s best receivers, to create a potential offensive juggernaut alongside Waller, receiver Hunter Renfrow and running back Josh Jacobs.

But the team has yet to put together a complete game. A bad first half and good second half against the Chargers. A great first half and terrible second half against the Cardinals. An awful first half followed by a terrific second half against the Titans.

Add it up and a team coming off a playoff berth is the league’s only 0-3 club entering Sunday’s game against AFC West foe Denver (2-1) at Allegiant Stadium.

“I definitely feel the urgency from the captains on the team,” Waller said. “They just really care. And they’re challenging people to up their preparation, to do a little more recovery. Like, whatever it is, when you sit down to reflect, ask yourself what you can do better. That’s what the leaders are doing.”

The meeting was team-specific to fit a version of the Raiders now led by coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler.

“It’s a different culture, right?” Carr said. “… It’s not the same team, so we couldn’t just go about the same way that we had been for the last couple of years in how we would fight through adversity.

“We all think we’re doing the right things. We’re all pulling. Let’s just make sure we’re all pulling the same way.”

It remains to be seen how much impact the meeting will have. Carr and Waller pointed out that practices this week have been positive and energized with an attention to detail.

“Everyone responded on Monday so well to the critiques from our coaches,” Carr said. “… That’s our job as leaders, to make sure that stays. I thought we answered that well.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter.

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