Q: You’ve now had four games in a row where you’ve been able to start fast, especially on offense, but then in the second half, slow down. Is there a theme as to why that’s going on?
Coach Allen: Well, really, if you look at it, we’ve got to execute better. I mean we’ve got some opportunities to make some plays and we’re not making the plays that are there for us. In the game the other day, they [the Pittsburgh Steelers] obviously wanted to load the box up and stop the run. On the first drive, I really would’ve liked for Terrelle [Pryor] to have handed the ball off to Darren [McFadden]. He tried to hand it off around the edge and we felt like we had a little bit of a play right there, but we had a couple of communication errors. Then on the second drive, when you get in that situation and the ball is inside the one-yard line and you’re trying to get it off the goal line and get a first down, we were able to do that and change the field position. But really, we had two drives in the third quarter, but in the fourth quarter, it boiled down to when we get the opportunities to make the plays we need to make the plays. We’ve got to throw the ball; we’ve got to catch the ball; and we’ve got to create some lanes to run the ball more effectively.
Q: Where do you find the balance, on both sides of the ball, of playing safe and conservative and not giving up the lead?
Coach Allen: Every game is going to be different, alright? You’ve got to understand how you’re going to win the game, and it’s not always about how pretty does it look. The ultimate goal is to win the football game. We had a defense that was playing outstanding in the football game, was taking the ball away, was creating a lot of pressure on the quarterback, that wasn’t giving up a lot of points. And the only chance that they had to get back in the game was for us to make mistakes and give them those opportunities. Unfortunately, we did that. We had the screen pass, which you think is a pretty conservative play – it’s a chance for an explosive player to get into space. We didn’t execute the play the way we wanted to. We don’t block the guy we’re supposed to block; he gets back in there, hits Jacoby [Ford], the ball goes on the ground and they then have the ball on the 10-yard line. So, I understand how you’re going to win football games and when the defense is playing really well, you’ve got to protect the football and you’ve got to let your defense go out and win the game for you.
Q: How much did the Steelers long possession affect your offense?
Coach Allen: I don’t know if that was a big factor in it or not. It was a huge factor in the game – the fact that they had the ball for over nine minutes and didn’t get any points out of it. I think our field-goal rush had something to do with them missing those field goals. I think our field-goal rush has done a good job at going after field goals. We’ve gotten our hands on a couple of field goals this year, and I’d like to think that that had a little bit of a factor in them missing those field goals. But, I don’t know if that got us out of any type of rhythm or anything, I just think when we had the plays to make we didn’t make those same plays, whereas in the first half, we made those plays.
Q: Can you talk about what kind of presence
Coach Allen: Well he’s done a great job for us. He’s kind of been one of those guys for us that is a little bit of a jack of all trades. When we’ve needed him to go back there and carry the ball, he’s carried the ball. He’s done a great job on special teams – I think he has two blocks on the year. He’s done a good job in the return game. I think you need those types of players on any football team to have a chance to have success. I think he understands what his role is. He’s embraced his role and he’s done a great job at it.
Q: What sort of markers are you using to gauge
Coach Allen: I wouldn’t say we have a sheet of paper or a list of things that we check off on a weekly basis that we give to him and say that these are the things you need to work on. But yeah, there’s things that we look at with him to gauge his ability as a quarterback; his ability to get in and out of the huddle, his ability to get us to the line of scrimmage, his ability to make the right quarterback read schemes, how’s his pocket presence, is he giving his protection enough time, is he giving his protection enough time, what’s his footwork like in the pocket. These are all the things you look at for a quarterback, and I think he’s improving. I think he’s made some significant strides, but I also think there’s room for some significant improvement, a lot of room for growth. I think that with any young player that I want to see the most is consistency – can we be consistent from the first series to the last series; from the first half to the second half. Can we be a little bit more consistent, and that’s with all of our players. The more we’re able to do that, the more we’ll be able to put together a full game.
Q: People like to make comparisons in this league. Is it fair to compare Terrelle Pryor to other quarterbacks with his unique skill set?
Coach Allen: Well the tendency to compare goes on outside of this building. He’s Terrelle Pryor. He’s unique. He’s not somebody else that somebody else that you might want to compare him to, and we know what his strengths are. We know what his weaknesses are. We need to be able to put him in position to accent his strengths, and try to limit the times we ask him to do things that maybe he’s not as good at. I stay away from the comparison thing because each individual player is unique in and of himself, and we’ve got to do a great job of putting him in a position to make plays.
Q: What kind of impact did having
Coach Allen: I thought it was good to have him back out there. I thought he was a little rusty. I don’t think he played as well as maybe he has in some past games, but I think that comes from, I think it’s been three weeks off now that he’s had. I think he’ll improve as we go along. I think the biggest thing in that game was just that he’s a calming presence up front. He does a good job of all the communication — making sure we’re targeting the right people. I think from that standpoint, that’s where I saw the positive in what he was able to bring to us.
Q: It seemed like LaMarr Woodley, for being on
Coach Allen: I thought McCants played well. He’s a guy that every time we put him in their he continues to do some good things, so I think that’s going to bode well for us as we continue on down the road — the fact that he’s been able to go in there and play well.
Q: Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver sent out an apology for flipping off the officials in yesterday’s game, but he’s done a great job with this defense. Is that one of those things where you say, “Hey, let’s just forget about it?”
Coach Allen: I don’t know if it’s one of those things you say, “Hey, let’s forget about it.” Listen he’s made his statement about what happen. The only thing I’ll say is I think he’s done an outstanding job with this defense. I think he’s a fiery and emotional guy, and I think our players have really taken to that. I think they’ve embraced that type of attitude, and I think he’s got the defense playing at a high level right now.
Q: Are you on board with Terrelle Pryor going to get outside help like he’s done with Tom House?
Coach Allen: Well like I said before, as long as it’s not taking away from the things that we’re trying to get accomplished here, I’m all for guys trying to make themselves better, but the key is making sure it’s within the framework of what we’re trying to get accomplished here. That’s one of the guys that as a staff we felt comfortable having him work with a little bit. The biggest improvement is going to be what’s done inside this building. That’s where he’s going to make the biggest strides.
Q: Is that stuff more necessary now with the amount of limited time you have with these players in the offseason? Do they maybe need more outside help?
Coach Allen: I don’t really see it that way. I think we get plenty of time to work with these guys and to help them get better, but if a guy wants to do something above and beyond, I’m certainly for it.
Q: A lot of comments are made about
Coach Allen: Well we’ve got a lot of guys that bring a lot. Like I’ve said before, probably a lot of people outside of this area, outside of this building probably don’t know a lot about who these ‘no-name’ guys are on defense, but we’ve got a lot of guys who are pretty good football players. Tracy’s one of them. Tracy’s a guy who’s made a lot of big plays in a lot of big games — one on the biggest stage there is. I think a lot of these guys that we brought in here kind of have a little chip on their shoulders. They want to prove that they’re worthy of being top-notch players in this league. I think they’ve all come together which has been the most impressive thing — that all of them have come together for a common goal, common cause, common purpose, and they’re playing really well together.
Coach Allen: Absolutely, and it’s something that really I’ve noticed a lot more over the last two or three weeks. He’s done a better job of preparing himself early in the week for what he’s going to see on Sunday, and I think you’ve seen the results of that. It’s really no secret. You take a guy with athletic ability, with talent, and you give him the mental processes, you give him the information and he understands what he’s seeing, you expect him to make plays. I think that’s something that all young guys learn as they go along. When guys come in here, most of the time these rookies, they don’t know what it takes to prepare to be a pro. Nine-out-of-10 times a lot of them have gotten by on athletic ability alone, but you can’t get by on it in this league. He’s a guy that’s learned that, and I think now he’s getting better at preparing himself.
Q: Where do you see his potential as a pass rusher?
Coach Allen: I think he could be a solid pass rusher. I’m not ready to declare that he’s the next [former Chiefs LB] Derrick Thomas, but I think he’s got some good pass-rush ability. I think the more that he continues to study, not just schematically what we’re doing, but the more he’s able to study his opponent and see how their setting him, where they’re putting their hands, those little things — the techniques and the fundamentals of playing the game, then I can see some real progress being made.
Q: What’s your assessment of the job the backup receivers did on Sunday?
Coach Allen: Well we’ve got to do better. I think overall we’ve got to be better. Brice [Butler] had really two costly drops in the game. Jacoby [Ford] had the fumble. I just think we’ve got to get better production overall from that position. Again, it’s the consistency factor. We’ve got to be a lot more consistent in doing our job and making the plays we’ve got the opportunity to make, whether it be in the run game blocking, whether it be running our routes exactly right and catching the football. That will be an area we’re going to emphasize to make sure we improve in that area.
Q: Philadelphia is coming in here with some questions about their quarterbacks. How do you deal with a team where it could be one of three different quarterbacks?
Coach Allen: Well we spent this morning really cleaning up the Pittsburgh stuff, so I haven’t really had a chance to get ahead on Philly yet. We’ll have to look at what they’re doing. The good news is we’ve seen all three of those quarterbacks play, so we’ve kind of got a feel for what they’re going to do with each quarterback. We’ve seen what some of their strengths are and some of the vulnerabilities of each one of those guys are. We’ll have to look at it and kind of monitor that situation as we go along. Schematically, I don’t think that they’ll be a whole lot different based on who the quarterback is.
Q: The trade deadline is tomorrow. What do you think the difficulties are in bringing a guy off another team this late in the season? Why it doesn’t happen that much?
Coach Allen: Well there’s a reason why you go to training camp. There’s a reason why you have an offseason program. It’s so that you can install your schemes and what you want to do offensively, defensively, in the kicking game, how you’re going to build the culture of your football team. It’s just hard to bring a guy in in the middle of the year and think that he’s going to come in and have a chance to be really effective for you midway through the year. I just think it’s a tough proposition to think that you’re going to bring somebody in that’s going to make a huge difference, but we’ll see.
Q: A lot has been made of [Eagles Head Coach] Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense. Have you seen anything close to that this season?
Coach Allen: Well again, I haven’t had the opportunity yet to study a lot on Philly. I’ve obviously seen them throughout the course of the year a little bit, but we’ve faced some up-tempo offenses. I mean Denver is an up-tempo offense. Jacksonville was an up-tempo offense. We’ll face those types. San Diego was up-tempo at times when we played them. We’ll see what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and we’ll have a good plan to try to stop them.
Q: You guys moved
Coach Allen: No. Listen, we’re trying to get something going in the return game, and like I said earlier, Jacoby had a nice return. He put the ball on the ground, which can’t happen, and