On preparing for the Combine: Yeah, obviously, we had a little bit of time. We spent some time in draft meetings last week and just really, for me, familiarizing myself with some of these players so I’ll have a good idea of what I’m looking at when we get a chance to watch them go through, not only the on the field stuff, but have a little bit of background information as we get in for the interview process. That has been a good process for me and I’m probably a little bit more ahead of schedule this year.
On contract negotiations with
On bringing back Raiders free agents: There are a certain number of those guys we’re certainly going to try to get back. I think when you look at our situation, it’s a little bit of a unique situation where we’ve got 18 unrestricted free agents on our football team. We had signed a lot of guys to one-year deals so there’s still going to be some turnover on this football team. The thing that we have to do a great job of, although we have a lot of cap room, we have to make sure we make good, sound decisions because we’re trying to build this thing not just for the one-year fix, but we’re really trying to build this thing for the long term. I think that’s the way you’re able to sustain success that you’re able to keep people that are on your football team, quality players, you’re able to keep them on your football team. I think you supplement your roster by going out in free agency and acquiring some talent outside of your building. But I think you really build this thing through the draft. We’re going to look at all avenues that we have open to us to try to improve the football team.
On addressing needs through free agency and draft: I think both those things are not mutually exclusive items. Obviously we’ve got needs we’ve got to try to fill and we’ve got a couple of avenues we can go about doing that. One is re-signing our own players. Another is through unrestricted free agency and acquiring talent off of other teams and the last is the draft. I think, as we go through this process, we’ll have a better feel when it comes draft time what we need. I think when you get to the draft, you’re still looking for best player available. I think need comes in when you’ve got players of kind of an equal grade, I think you take need more into account.
On Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel: Obviously he’s accomplished a lot at the collegiate level and has been a very good football player being the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. I think that speaks in and of itself about how good a football player he is, so I think he’s a very talented football player. I think he is a multi-dimensional football player. I think he’s able to throw the ball. I think he’s able to throw the ball from the pocket, but he’s also able to create things with his feet. As we get more into the evaluation process, I think he’ll be a fun guy to really evaluate.
On lessons from Miami Dolphins locker room situation: I think the thing that you have to look at is you can’t ever take anything for granted. I think as a head football coach, the working culture in that building is really my responsibility so I think it’s unfortunate that those things bring those things to light. It makes you more aware of making sure you’re being diligent about monitoring your locker room, monitoring the working environment that your players are dealing with.
On if there is a greater sense of urgency being in the AFC West: Listen, obviously next year we’ve got the AFC West, which we had three playoff teams in that division. We’ll play the NFC West next year as part of our schedule. So yeah, there’s obviously a sense of urgency of trying to get better. I don’t know that it’s any more so than any other year, but we want to try to improve this football team and we’re going to try to get this organization back to winning championships, which is what this organization needs to be able to do.
On how running quarterbacks hold up physically: I think when you talk about running, it’s not really about how many times a guy runs, but it’s really how many times a guy gets hit as far as having a multi-faceted quarterback that can move around. I think what you want to pay attention to when you have a guy like that is you want to pay attention to how many times he’s getting hit and making sure he’s being smart when he is running the ball and not taking the unnecessary hits.
On if the quarterback position is a position of need: I think that’s one of the things we’ve got to ultimately determine. That’s a position that we’re going to look at very closely. In my mind, we’ve got two young quarterbacks that have potential. Hopefully they can develop and reach that next step, but I think that’s obviously a position that we’ve got to look at.
On if next year’s starting quarterback is on the roster: I don’t know the answer to that yet, you know what I mean? I think that’s obviously a position we’re going to look at to try to improve as well as any other position. But that’s obviously a position we have to…the quarterback position is the backbone of your football team and so we have to make sure that when we go out there this year that we’ve put ourselves in the best position to have success with the quarterback position.
On importance of intelligence test and player interviews: We put a lot into that. There’s a lot of things you can see by watching tape in evaluating the tape, but I think the most important thing when you’re evaluating players for your football team, a lot of times it’s the intangible things you just don’t see them on tape. So the psychological testing, the intelligence testing, the interview process, finding out about what makes a player tick, those are all the things that I think…I think when you make mistakes in acquiring talent, you generally make them based on what a player either does or doesn’t have in his heart or in his head, not necessarily what his physical abilities are.
On if he got any look at Murray before the injury: Yeah, but he was never fully healthy. Every time he kind of got healthy, the ankle reared its ugly head again and he was back down. But there’s’ a couple of plays…I’m trying to think. I think it was the Dallas game, maybe, where he got a run over on the sideline and was able to lower his shoulder and really finish off the run really well. So there’s some plays in there that I can think of that are exciting and encouraging to me, but again, he’s got very limited experience and limited exposure.
On SEC players in the NFL: I think the SEC is probably the deepest conference in college football and I think you do see a little bit of difference in those players just in the level of competition and the things that they’ve had to go up against. I wouldn’t say it’s all encompassing, but I think overall they’re a little bit more NFL ready.
On reaction to Darren Sharper allegations: Shocked. I had the good fortune of working with him in New Orleans and my experience with him was nothing but the best. I haven’t followed everything exactly what’s going on, but that was a shocking thing to me.