Allen: Steelers play a tough, physical brand of football
Dennis Allen is 6-16 as head coach of the Raiders. (USATSI)
ALAMEDA -- Bye weeks are designed to increase health and perspective. Teams are typically tougher following a week of rest and introspective work. The Raiders, however, are not.
They haven’t won coming off a bye since 2002, which coincidentally coincides with the team’s last year above .500. It also marks their last postseason berth.
For the sake of comparison, fullback Marcel Reece couldn’t vote. D.J. Hayden was a preteen. Even coach Dennis Allen was just 30 years old.
All that’s code for one fact: the Raiders haven’t been good for a long while. A win Sunday over Pittsburgh would be small step toward a brighter tomorrow. Allen mentioned it to his team on Monday, in hopes of adding motivation to Sunday’s big game.
“I think we’re all aware of that, but, like I told the players today, the past has no relevance to the future,” Allen said. “Any of the outcomes that have happened after a bye in the past won’t dictate how we go out and play against Pittsburgh. What’s going to dictate how we go out and play against Pittsburgh is how well we prepare during the week, and then how well do we go out and execute that plan on Sunday.
“I think we had a good plan in the bye. I think we got some guys freshened up a little bit. Now the key is we’ve got to focus in on the preparation. We’ve got to do the things that are necessary to go out and play well on Sunday.”
First step is a belief that the Raiders can compete and win, even against established powers like Pittsburgh. Players believe they can do so, and that they’re better than their 2-4 record suggests. They believe they have a chance to snap one of several unfortunate streaks.
"It's time to change it,” Reece said. “You never really think about it, though you want to win every game. You never go back personally and say after a bye week how many games have we won. You always try to prepare yourself to win every game, but I've heard about the streak a few times today. It's time to end it."