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
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,
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.”
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
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
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.”