Sure, every team wants to make the playoffs every single season. But for Las Vegas Raiders general manager Mike Mayock, that “want” is more of a “need” ahead of the 2021 campaign.
“Jon (Gruden) and I will both tell you that we feel like we need to be a playoff team this year, and I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Mayock told the press Wednesday, via Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. “You guys are all going to put that in your headlines, and I understand it, but that’s what the expectation is. We think we’ve done the infrastructure work necessary to put us in position, and we’ve got to take care of business.”
Vegas looked playoff-bound halfway through last season before sputtering in latter weeks and ending with an 8-8 record, missing the playoffs for a fourth straight time. Mayock pointed to the lack of training camp in 2020 as one issue, since the younger Raiders squad wasn’t able to prep for the regular season in the same way.
But Mayock, in his third season as GM for the Silver and Black, also saw an uptick of talent during this year’s camp.
“I’m fired up, and it’s part of, A) being back to normal, but B) more just the accumulation of three years,” Mayock said. “My dad used to say, ‘Don’t worry about whether or not the horse is blind — just load the freaking truck.’ That’s where we are. We’ve assembled 53 players. We think we’re going to be a pretty good football team. We’re not hiding from expectations.”
Of course, any team can have high expectations ahead of Week 1. The key for the Raiders now is to meet those expectations, if not exceed them.
“It’s always nice to hear somebody say that,” Raiders own Mark Davis remarked on Mayock’s comments.”But let’s go out and do it. I’d be much more impressed if they did it.”