Warpaint Illustrated: Raiders Head Coach, Jack Del Rio has shown a fire that's been missing in Oakland the last several years. With the carousel of Head Coaches that have been paraded on the sidelines, how has he changed the culture and the mentality of his football team.
Chris McClain: Jack Del Rio came in and did a very good job changing the culture in Alameda and Oakland, as cliche as it sounds. He came in and took a team with many young pieces, and convinced them that they can win and be a force in the league with the roster they have. The biggest success he had was getting that first win, to back up his claim. That really helped him win the locker room over and help them believe.
He has also benefited from having a young quarterback that may be one of the most confident in the league - he always things his team has a chance. Derek Carr has been another strong voice in the locker room that has reiterated the words Del Rio has said since the first day he arrived in Oakland.
Warpaint Illustrated: I could make a strong case that Raiders Quarterback, Derek Carr is the divisions best quarterback. Yet he's in the middle of his second year, and though he's looked brilliant for much of the season, he has lapses where his emotions get the best of him on the field. Is that a lingering concern for the Raiders?
Chris McClain: Carr has made some amazing strides in this one and a half years as the starting Raiders quarterback. His footwork has been much better then the first day he got there, along with his decision-making. He has always had a strong arm, and is now learning when to use it and when not to.
I don't think the Raiders are concerned with Carr letting his emotions get the best of him on the field, as that is something that they love too. Carr is a passionate guy that loves the game of football, and more importantly, he loves winning. Mark Davis, Del Rio and the Raiders staff love passionate players and love the fact that Carr shows so much emotion on the field.
Warpaint Illustrated: There was no question that Amari Cooper was the best wide receiver in the 2015 NFL Draft. He's on pace to have a terrific year. Though he's struggled a bit lately, do you think that's because he's hitting the rookie wall or have defenses began to figure out how they can stop him?
Chris McClain: Amari Cooper did have a rough game going up against the Lions secondary two weeks ago, having just one catch for four yards and a couple of drops - which led to a lot wondering if he was hitting the "rookie wall". Even with this rough game, the Raiders didn't panic and continued to go to him, including on the first play from scrimmage last week against the Titans.
Cooper went on to have a great game, hauling in seven receptions for 115 yards though he did not have a touchdown. I think the Raiders are confident that their young wide receiver will continue to be a force for the remainder of the season.
Warpaint Illustrated: Khalil Mack might be the best defensive player on the Raiders. How has his game evolved from his rookie season and do you think he can be a true leader of the defense for Oakland?
Chris McClain: Second-year linebacker Khalil Mack is likely the Raiders best defensive player, though his stats may not always show it. Mack has built on his sack total, racking up seven this season already. He has done so by building on his pass-rushing moves. He entered the league with a strong bull-rush, but has added a solid swim move and a spin move to his repertoire.
Mack is also one of the best defenders against the run for the Raiders. He always finds a way to be in the backfield and ready to make a tackle for a loss. He's a key player for the Raiders, and will be against the Kansas City Chiefs next week.
Warpaint Illustrated: No matter where or when these two teams play against one another, the score always seems to be in doubt in the fourth quarter. With that said, who wins on Sunday Chiefs or Raiders?
Chris McClain: The Oakland Raiders have lost some close games this year and it's time it turned around in their favor. Like you said, there's always a close game in the fourth quarter with these two teams, and I think the Raiders find a way to squeak this one out 20-17.