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News

Coach Allen Breaks Down Win Over Texans

Posted Nov 18, 2013

Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media Monday afternoon and broke down the Raiders 28-23 win over the Texans in Houston.

Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen: “I’ll update you on the injuries. I don’t have a full update injury-wise because we still have some guys with MRIs and haven’t gotten all the results back yet. Really from the game, guys that have injuries — both Andre Holmes and Denarius Moore had shoulder injuries in the game. Both of them are getting MRIs. I haven’t gotten the results back on that. [Mike] Brisiel had an MRI on his knee this morning. That came back negative. There’s nothing new there, so he should be fine. Jason Hunter and Dan Muir are both having MRIs, Hunter on his foot and Muir on his knee. I haven’t got those results back yet either, so we’ll have an update on all those guys basically on Wednesday. With the game, I thought it was a great team win for our football team. Really to be honest with you, I thought it was the perfect ending for us as a football team. We talk a lot as a team about overcoming adversity, facing adversity. For that game to play out the way it did on the road, to jump out to a lead, to give the lead up, to get the lead back again and have it go down to a fourth-down stop at the end of the game - you’re either going to stop them and win the game, or you’re not and lose the game. We talked a lot about guys stepping up and putting a bulls-eye on their chest and being the guy who wants to make the play at the end of the game. We were able to do that, so again it’s a great team win for us. There were a lot of positives in the game. Obviously I think when you’re able to run the ball the way we were able to run the ball and to only have two sacks in the game your offensive line has to be doing something pretty well. Again, we overcame some adversity there. We had some guys go down with injuries, and some other guys had to step in and fill in. I thought we did a good job of doing that. We’ve talked about Rashad Jennings with his 150 yards running and 80-yard touchdown run. Again he was stepping in and filling in for Darren McFadden for the third week in a row really, and he’s played exceptionally well for us. Matt McGloin coming in, stepping in and playing the way that he did, all this being done against the number one ranked defense in the National Football League I thought was very impressive — the way our offense played in the game. I thought the difference in the game was the red zone. When we got down there in the red zone — that was something that we made a big emphasis on Friday — when we got down there in the red zone we were 3-for-3, three touchdowns. We were able to keep Houston out of the end zone. They were 0-for-3 down there in the red zone. Marquette King has punted very well for us. He had four punts inside the 20 again. Last week that was another point of emphasis we had with him. Our defense starting off the  way that we did — to get the two takeaways, to set our offense up in positive field position, our offense to be able to convert on that — and again like I’ve touched on already, our red zone defense, keeping those guys out of the end zone was very good and critical to see. There are obviously a lot of things that we still need to get cleaned up. Penalties are something that we’ve got to continue to work on to get cleaned up. We had eight in the game. Explosive passes, we gave up too many explosive passes. Luckily we had the one that was for a touchdown where we had a little bit of dropped coverage there, but other than that we gave up some explosive passes but were generally able to keep them in front of us and not let them convert into touchdowns. We had some critical drops in the game that we’ve got to work to continue to improve on. We’ll do some extra work this week to work on drops, and then obviously the biggest negative in the game was the long punt return. In the situation where it came in the game we had the momentum, and they were able to get all the momentum back on that. But again, I thought it was a great team win for us. I thought our guys battled and hung in there, and we made enough plays at the end of the game to win it.”

Q: Did you ever imagine entering the season that it would be Matt McGloin and Rashad Jennings leading the backfield for you guys?

Coach Allen: “No, I don’t think that was really what our plan was going into the year, but listen I’ve said I like this football team. I like there demeanor. I like the way they go about doing their job, and when you play in the NFL, there are going to be injuries. Guys are going to have to step up, and both of those guys prepared every week like they’re going to be the starter. They come to work every day. They pay attention in the meetings. They’re focused out on the practice field, and when you do those things you’re able to have a chance to have success on Sundays.”

Q: Was the win in part a byproduct of all the times you’ve gotten close out on the road? Was it bound to happen?

Coach Allen: “Well again, I’ve said this also. The more times you put yourself in the position, the better probability you have of having success. Our team’s put ourselves in those positions, and I think as you put yourselves in those positions, you understand what the focus is — it’s more mental than it is physical — what the mental challenges are of focusing in on those critical situations at the end of the game so that you can execute your job and win instead of coming up on the short end.”

Q: Is Matt McGloin your starter for the Tennessee game?

Coach Allen: “I’m going to wait and have an opportunity to visit with Terrelle [Pryor]. I haven’t talked to him yet, so I’m not exactly sure where he is physically. I will say this. I will say that obviously with Matt’s performance, he’s certainly earned the right to be in the discussion. That’s for sure.”

Q: If Pryor is fully healthy would he be the starter?

Coach Allen: “Well I’m not going to get into hypotheticals yet because I don’t know that. When I figure out and get an opportunity to sit down and talk to Terrelle and find out where he is physically, then I’ll have all the information I need to make the decision on who will start this Sunday.”

Q: How does a guy like Matt McGloin slip through and come out of nowhere because it happens so rarely with quarterbacks?

Coach Allen: “I don’t want to go through the long list of guys that have been low draft choices or relatively obscure guys. Kurt Warner and Tom Brady come to mind as guys who maybe weren’t really sought after coming out of college and ended up doing pretty well themselves. I think some guys just, maybe they weren’t born with or blessed with the great athleticism, size, speed, strength, all those things that you can definitely measure, but you can’t measure what’s in somebody’s head or in somebody’s heart. This guy’s overcome a lot of challenges. A lot of people said he couldn’t do something, and he did it anyway. It’s more about what’s in a guy’s mind and in a guy’s heart as to whether they can do that or not.”

Q: How careful do you have to be with this quarterback situation?

Coach Allen: “Here’s what I’ve got to do. I’ve got to make a decision on what I think is best for this football team and gives us the best opportunity to win. That’s what we look at.”

Q: But do you have to gauge the pulse of the locker room?

Coach Allen: “Well I’m always conscious of what the pulse of the locker room is, and believe it or not they don’t always agree with all of the decisions I make in that locker room. I mean, they weren’t real excited about going out in pads last week, but that’s what my job is. That’s what I get paid to do. I’ve got to make those decisions on what I think gives us the best chance to win. I think you’ve seen where the guys have rallied behind Terrelle Pryor when he’s been the starting quarterback, and then obviously you saw yesterday how our guys responded when Matt McGloin’s been in there. I really don’t see that as being an issue.”

Q: From your look at the tape what did you see McGloin do well and do not so well?

Coach Allen: “Well there are certain things that you don’t see on the tape that you see when you’re there. I thought he had great command of the huddle. I thought his presence on the field was outstanding. I thought he had great communication with the sideline. When you watch him in the passing game, there wasn’t a lot of unsettledness. He was calm in the pocket. He was going through his progressions. He threw the ball with timing and accuracy. I thought in particular for a first game starting, I thought he handled things very well.”

Q: Even though this puts the coaching staff in a tough position, is it exciting to have this other option though?

Coach Allen: “Well, I don’t know that any of us are in a tough position. I think that our job as coaches is to try to do the things that we feel like give us the best opportunity to win, and that’s what those players in that locker room are looking for. Now, it’s good to know that you have options; that’s obviously a positive. But I don’t look at it as a tough situation. I look at as a good situation.”

Q: How does Matt [McGloin]’s ability to get rid of the ball as quickly as he does help the offensive line?

Coach Allen: “I think that that helps. But obviously I thought our offensive line had its best game protecting the quarterback, against Houston, against that front.”

Q: On the defense side of the ball, Lamarr Houston was very disruptive. How does his play help the defensive line? Does the offensive line have to pay more attention to him? Does that free some other guys up?

Coach Allen: “Well, yeah, I mean I think when you have players of Lamarr’s ability. I think that helps some of the other guys on the defensive line. I thought Lamarr made an outstanding play on the sack in the first half of the football game. To knock them out of field-goal range was a huge play in the game. Lamarr is a guy that’s continued to play well for us. He may not have all of the sack numbers that some of the other guys in this league might have, but he’s been very disruptive. He gets to the quarterback a lot, and he has a lot of hits on the quarterback. So Lamarr has been a good player for us.”

Q: Will [Terrelle] Pryor’s health factor into this decision?

Coach Allen: “Yes.”

Q: So it’s not based purely on what Matt [McGloin] does for you?

Coach Allen: “Listen, we’re going to look at all the factors involved, measure out what those factors are and then I’ll make a decision.”

Q: Any update on Darren [McFadden] and his status for this week?

Coach Allen: “I don’t have any update on him. Obviously we’ll take him out tomorrow and work him out and see how close he is.”

Q: Why is the running game more successful this year with Rashad [Jennings] than it has been with Darren [McFadden]?

Coach Allen: “You know, I don’t know. I can’t pinpoint one exact reason why. What I can say is that as we’ve gone on throughout the year, I think we’ve gotten better at executing in our run game. I think our offensive line has continued to improve in their blocking and their understanding of the things we’re asking them to do and how we’re asking them to do those things. I think Rashad has a nice feel for what we’re doing in the run game, and you know, he hits the thing downhill, and like I said yesterday after the game, it’s a little bit how I envisioned this football team playing and this offensive being. You’re going to have a lot of one-, two- three- and four- [yard run]s and then all of a sudden you’re going to bust out a long run, and that’s how you have the really productive running games.”

Q: How much has his [Rashad Jennings] yards after initial contact factored into his success of this running game?

Coach Allen: “I think it’s been critical, it’s been a big part of it. Very seldom does he go down on first contact. Like I said, there’s runs in there that are two- or three-yard runs where there is contact at the line of scrimmage where the pile gets pushed forward for two or three yards, and that’s really what you’re looking for. You’re looking to gain a blade of grass on every single play, and we’ve done a better job of executing that over the past few weeks.”

Q: You’ve said that Rashad [Jennings] has earned his increased workload. When Darren McFadden comes back, has he earned the starting running back job?

Coach Allen: “I mean that’s a question, with Darren’s injury situation, that cannot really be answered right now. I’ll say this and I’ll say it again, he’s earned the right to carry the ball. So, whether he starts or doesn’t start, I don’t think that’s really much of a factor. I think he’s going to get his touches.”

Q: You talked about wanting to get more production out of the tight end position. How nice was it to see [Mychal] Rivera to have the game he had?

Coach Allen: “It was nice. It was good to see. Again, Mychal’s a guy who has come in and he’s really had a pretty good feel for what we’re doing in the passing game. And for him to have the type of game he had was good for us as an offensive. We need our tight ends to be a viable option in the passing game and they were yesterday.”

Q: Can you take us back to that last defensive play? Did you see what you expected to see? Was it reaction? Was it some kind of a thought that that was where the target was?

Coach Allen: “Well, on the second to last play – the one that got blown dead with the penalty, which we actually stopped – you know, we were in a blitz and that was a look that we had seen a lot of teams run against us, in blitz coverage – taking the outside receiver, running him underneath. I thought Mike Jenkins made a great play on that. We would’ve been off the field on that; we had to play the down over. And the play that they ran was a route that we’ve seen a handful of times this year. It’s a route that’s scored on us a couple of times this year already. So, it’s something that we’ve worked hard on trying to get corrected and it was a route that they had run earlier in the game; once we saw the formation we kind of had an idea of what we might get, and Usama [Young] was in a good position to make the play.”

Q: It sounds like that they’re getting it, that you are taking mistakes and correcting them. Is that nice?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, no question. And again that goes back to the mentality of the players we have in the locker room. They take the coaching, they take the direction and they try – to the best of their ability – make those corrections on the football field. And it doesn’t always work out the way we want it to, but for the most part our guys are taking the coaching – from the meeting room, out to the practice field and out there on game day.”

Q: Coach, there are eight teams, I think, within a last game of the playoff spot at this point. Is that something you emphasize to the team or do you assume they know that?

Coach Allen: “What I’m going to emphasize to the team is pay attention to the process. Don’t pay attention to what the end goal is or what the end result is. If you pay attention to the process and you pay attention to what’s going on on a day-to-day basis, practice-by-practice, game-by-game, those end results will take care of themselves. If we practice well enough, we meet well enough, if we play well enough, the goals that we aspire to have at the end of the season will be there for us.”

Q: [Kevin] Burnett seems to be always around the ball, making some positive plays week after week. I’m sure that’s what you expected from, but can you talk about the impact he’s had?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, he’s done a great job for us. He’s an experienced player. He’s an athletic player that we can do a lot of things with – we’ve blitzed him, we’ve put him in coverage a lot. He’s done a great job for us and he’s made a lot of big plays for us. Obviously he made the tackle on the goal-line stop, but when you watch the tape and you watch Lamarr Houston and Sio Moore knock back the line of scrimmage, which cleans Kevin up, where he can get over the top and make the tackle, that’s what team defense is all about. And all of those guys have bought into that concept, and I think that’s why you see so many of those players make plays. Because I think they all see that J.T. [defensive coordinator Jason Tarver] is going to put them in a position that everybody is going to have their opportunities to make plays, and then it’s your responsibility to – when those opportunities come. As we’ve progressed through the season, I think our guys have done a better and better job of doing that.”

Q: How impressive or encouraging was it to see the defense set the tone right off the bat, and put the offense in a position to score points? You scored pretty quickly after the first turnover and immediately after the second turnover.

Coach Allen: “Yeah, I thought that was big in the game. You know obviously with Matt [McGloin] coming in and having it be his first start and having the ball in the red zone was big for him. The first drive we were able to run the ball effectively and then we were able to capitalize on the third-down play to get the touchdown, and that comes after a false start penalty to back us up. So I think the defense set the tone. For the offense, it was critical. That happened last week though. I think the big thing was that our team was able to capitalize on it and our team was able to start fast and finish strong.”

Q: Other than Philadelphia – which you would like to think is an aberration – are you generally pleased with the defense from start to finish so far? Coach Allen:

“Yeah. There are still a lot of things that we’ve got to continue to improve on. I mean we’re not the finished product by any means, but you know, every week I see this team getting better and better, and not just defensively. I see this team getting better in all phases of the game. There’s always going to be things that happen in the game and say, ‘We’ve got to get this fixed or we’ve got to get that fixed.’ But when you look at the overall picture of this football team, I see this team as an improving football team.”