There was more than just some subtle concern when Jon Gruden left the Raiders organization during the off-season for Tampa Bay. The fiery coach was looked upon as being the mastermind that got the team to a competitive level.
Around the league there was skepticism when Gruden was replaced by then Oakland offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. That skepticism did not include the players in the locker room who have great respect for the first-year head coach.
"Coach (Callahan) is a very good coach, he understands how to get us ready and he lets us enjoy and play the game. If there was one man that the guys in the locker room wanted to get the job, it was Bill (Callahan)," Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon recently commented.
While the 4-0 Raiders are averaging a league high 40.5 points and 461 yards per game, there is room for improvement according to Callahan.
"We have to continue on some of the little things. Penalties and injuries can kill the momentum a team carries. Defensively, we really haven't played in too many games where we had to rely on them in a tight battle," Callahan added. "Our next six games are going to dictate what kind of a team we are going to be this season, but I assure you that we are not going to be conservative offensively. The schedule is going to become more difficult as the season progresses, it always does because other teams react and gameplan to stop what they see on film."
The Raiders, flourishing under the offensive tutelage of Callahan and veteran offensive coordinator Marc Trestman will face the Rams, Chargers, Chiefs, 49ers, Broncos, and Patriots during the key six-game stretch Callahan has spoke of.
Through the first five-weeks of the 2002 season, the Raiders are the only undefeated team in the league. Under Callahan, that "Just Win Baby" attitude is again alive and well in Oakland.