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News

Coach Allen Recaps Raiders 2013 Campaign

Posted Dec 30, 2013

Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media Monday afternoon and recapped the 2013 season and looked ahead to 2014.

Opening Statement: “Obviously, things this year from a record standpoint didn’t work out the way the way we wanted them to work out. We understand that we’ve got to be better than that. We know that from here on out our future is going to be determined by what we do form this point forward. I’m looking forward to the future. I’m excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for us. I still think that this will be a great challenge for us, but I think that this is something we can do. There’s a plan for the things that we need to do to accomplish the goals that we’re trying to accomplish within this organization on this football team. I think our football team continued to battle and continued to fight. Obviously, I didn’t think we were able to be as competitive as we needed to be or wanted to be later in the season. There are challenges that go along with that, but now we have an opportunity to build this team and to build this team the right way, to build this team through a compliment of draft choices that you can raise the way you want them to be raised, in the culture that you want them to be raised in. We’re going to have an opportunity to sign back guys through free agency that if we want a guy back we’re going to be able to get a guy back and we’re going to be able to go out there and acquire some talent off of other rosters that we think fit the mold of what we’re looking for. We’re closer than what our record might indicate. There are a few things that we need to be able to do to get to where we need to get to. I think we still need to be able to develop and find probably about two or three playmakers on each side of the ball that we have to be able to develop or go out there and get. That’s where we’re at as a football team and that’s where we are moving forward.”

Q: You seem pretty positive about the future. Have you been assured that you’ll be here next year?

Coach Allen: “I haven’t been told that I won’t. I wouldn’t say there have been any guarantees made, but I’m moving forward in that direction. I fully anticipate and fully expect to be the coach of the football team and that’s the way I’m moving forward.”

Q: Have you had that sit down yet with [General Manager] Reggie McKenzie?

Coach Allen: “I’ve talked to Reggie. I have not had a sit down yet with [owner] Mark [Davis]. That will be coming real soon.”

Q: Are you going to keep all the coaches that you have?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, I don’t anticipate a lot of changes. We’ll see what happens over the next few days. Obviously, there are a lot of discussions that have to be made so it’s probably not the right time to be able to make any type of comments on that. I’m not looking to make a lot of changes, but we’ll see where that goes.”

Q: You have some assistants on expiring contracts. Would you like to see them rolled over in general?

Coach Allen: “I think those are all things that need to be worked out in the next day or so. Hopefully we can get all that worked out.”

Q: There’s a lot of talk at the end of a season such as this one, the whole ‘losing he locker room,’ type thing but it seems like the players are all really on board with the continuity thing and they all seem to have bought in. How much of a factor do you think that plays in your return?

Coach Allen: “I have no idea. Again, that’s not a decision that I make. I feel like all the players bought in. I feel like all the players believed in the things that we were doing. I didn’t sense that there was any sense of give up or that the players had kind of gone a separate direction. I think that speaks to the coaching staff and the players.”

Q: What was the message you gave the players today at the go away meeting? Did you meet with all of them individually or just a bunch, how does that work?

Coach Allen: “I met with almost all of them individually. I met with all of them as a group, as a team and just said that I don’t plan on going anywhere. I plan to be here. I talked about that we have 113 days between now and the start of the offseason program, and we need to make sure that we have a good plan for what we’re going to do over these next 113 days. I talked to them all from a free agency standpoint about making sure we keep open lines of communication going. If they have any questions or concerns they need to make sure that they contact me and I can give them the right answers and I told them to make sure they do things the right way off the field. The time to have your name in the paper is during the season, not during the offseason so make sure you do the right things and stay out of trouble.”

Q: When you do have that talk with Mark [Davis], what are some things you can plead your case on why you should be here?

Coach Allen: “Listen, I think those will be things that I talk to Mark about individually. I’m sure there are things that he wants to talk to me about, there are things that I want to be able to talk to him about, and those are the things that’ll be the things we communicate on and we’ll move forward from there.”

Q: Knowing you still have your end of the year player evaluations still to do, are you any closer to knowing who your quarterback will be moving forward? Do you feel like you need to bring in a veteran? Where do you kind of stand on that right now?

Coach Allen: “I think that’s a position that we’ve got to make sure that we address. I’m not sure that we have the quarterback of the future in the building right now. Again, I think we’ll go through the offseason evaluation process – we’ll comb through all the tapes, we’ll go through everything. I do think we have a better idea of what we have at the quarterback position. Listen, that’s the most important position on the football field. I think everybody saw – when you watch the game yesterday – when No. 18 [Peyton Manning] was out there for the other team they were hard to stop. When the other guy [Brock Osweiler] came in it wasn’t the same thing. So, that’s obviously a very important decision.”

Q: Coach, you said that you haven’t been told that you won’t return. What has been said to you that gives you the indication that you will return?

Coach Allen: “Well, I’ve been given the indication that I’ll be back. But I think it’ll be important for me and Mark [Davis] to sit down and communicate and talk about the things that we need to talk about – I have every intention of being back.”

Q: What kind of timeline are you looking at and what is the expectation to have resolution and clarity?

Coach Allen: “Yeah, listen, again those aren’t my decisions, so hopefully the timeline would be pretty short.”

Q: What kind of indication were you given that you’ll be back?

Coach Allen: “Just the communication going forward of what we’re trying to do, I’ve been given the indication that I’ll be back. But we’ll wait and see.”

Q: When are you scheduled to meet with Mark [Davis]?

Coach Allen: “I haven’t set that schedule yet.”

Q: Yesterday Lamarr Houston said, ‘Dennis Allen and the Raiders may be looking to move on from him.’ Did you see that quote and what are your thoughts on Lamarr’s future?

Coach Allen: “I did see that quote and that’s not the case. Obviously I sat down with Lamarr today and had a nice discussion with him. We’d love to have him back. We think he fits our system and what we’re trying to do and we think he’s a guy that we can build with.”

Q: You had 10 new starters on defense this year. Just from continuity sake and getting your program moving forward, how important is it that you guys avoid that same thing?

Coach Allen: “Not only did you have 10 new starters on defense, but you had a lot of guys on one-year contracts. That’s not how you build a football team. Those are hard situations to overcome, but I thought our players and coaches did – under those circumstances – well under those circumstances. That’s a situation that we want to make sure that we avoid. I think having continuity, I think having commitment both on our side and from a players perspective is important.”

Q: How do you sell the Raiders? Obviously players want work and they need money, but how do you pitch a free agent this team?

Coach Allen: “Well, I think this is a team that when you look at some of the young players and how they’ve improved on this football team, I think this is a team that’s going to improve. I think if some of these young players continue to develop and we’re able to add a few pieces to the puzzle, along with some of the guys that we have – to me, I look at it, as this is the beginning. This is the beginning of being able to build and create the things we want to do here. I’m not looking at this as the end, I’m looking at this as the start, as the beginning, and we have an opportunity to really create here. This is where we should be judged, and there’s no question that we should be judged moving forward, there’s no question about that.”

Q: There’s a pretty big gap in the standings between you and the other teams in your division. Can you close that gap in one year?

Coach Allen: “Well yeah, I think we can close the gap. I do recognize that—I think this is the only division that had three teams make the playoffs. So obviously this is a tough division. Denver, obviously we weren’t as competitive with Denver. San Diego, both games, one we won. One we were in the game and had an opportunity. Against Kansas City, the first game, we had a shot at it. The game got out of hand at the end. So I think we’re closer than maybe people give us credit for. Again, you’re talking about a couple breaks here or there. You’re talking about a couple players here or there. You’re talking about a couple plays here or there from having a different conversation.”

Q: What does closer mean? Are you closer to the playoffs or a Super Bowl? Because you said effort isn’t an issue, and if all the coaches come back, it’s talent. If you’re able to add two or three guys on each side, can this be a Super Bowl caliber team?

Coach Allen: “That’s all speculation, alright? I wish I had the crystal ball and could tell you that. But here’s what I want to be able to do. I want to be able to compete and be in the running, be in the competition to be one of those top 12 teams. That’s what I’m looking for, and I think you’ve got to take it one step at a time. I don’t think we need to be talking about the Super Bowl. I think we need to be talking about competing in an area where we can potentially be a playoff team.”

Q: How do you sell this to a potential free agent? Why come here?

Coach Allen: “Because they have an opportunity to be a part of something special. That’s the belief that we have, and hopefully that’s something that we can convince these free agents that are out there. We believe that we can build something special here. That’s what we get up every day with the anticipation of doing. That’s what brings us back to work every day, and we’re not ever going to stop doing that. We’ll be able to find guys that we feel like can come in and fit in and be part of what we’re trying to build here.”

Q: If this is the beginning right now, then what were the last two years?

Coach Allen: “I think it was expressed already. Unfortunately it was a little bit of the deconstruction, and now it’s into the building phase. It’s into the construction phase. And I think that’s an exciting time. I think that’s an exciting opportunity.”

Q: Jared Veldheer is another big-ticket free agent. Is he a guy that you’d like to retain?

Coach Allen: “Absolutely, and we’re in the process of trying to do that. Nothing ever happens — and I told Jared this today when I met with him — nothing ever happens as fast as you want it to in negotiations. So obviously Jared has expressed that he wants to be here. We’d like for Jared to be here, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Q: Two things have been said a lot, being competitive, and Reggie McKenzie said the Raiders are going to win some games. Do you think what went on this season lived up to that?

Coach Allen: “Well, I don’t think we won as many games this season as we wanted to win. Being competitive, I think there were several opportunities we had to win football games. We came up on the short end of the stick. Even in some of the games where the final score might have looked a little bit out of hand, there were points in the second half of the football game where we were in the game. I’m not looking for moral victories, and I understand that this is a win business. But when you ask the question were we competitive this year, my answer would be yes.”

Q: You gave up a lot of points in the last five games. What do you think went wrong?

Coach Allen: “I think, again, execution. I think we’ve got to do a better job of execution. Obviously, guys are trying to do things the right way. Obviously we’ve got to look at ourselves. There are probably some things that we’ve got to be able to teach better, to clean some things up for them and to make some things easier for them. I thought there were times in the second half of the year where the field position got out of hand. What we’ve got to be able to do is we’ve got to be able to eliminate the touchdowns and make them have to kick field goals. The two areas that I thought were the biggest factors, defensively for us, were third down and red zone. Those are two areas that we’ve got to improve.”

Q: What does the next month or so look like for you and the rest of the coaching staff?

Coach Allen: “First of all, at some point we are going to take a little bit of time off to recover from the season. The season is an emotional and physical grind. We’ll take a little bit of time off. Then we’ll get back to work. We’ll go through the evaluation process on our football team, then we’ll begin to go through the evaluation process for free agency, then we’ll go through the evaluation process for the draft and getting ready for the offseason programs. It’s really a never-ending job. The evaluation is ongoing. We’ll sit back and take a little bit of time, but then we’ll get back to work.”

Q: Looking forward and speaking to the Raider Nation, are you telling Raider Nation that they should anticipate a team on the field that will be competitive or one that will win?

Coach Allen: “Listen, again, I’m not ever going to stand up here and say that this is a 12-win, 13-win, 10-win … It would be foolish of me to stand up here and say. I do think that this is a team, moving forward, needs to be a team that when it’s all said and done, they’re in the mix to be in the top-12 teams. That’s what we should be judged on moving forward. This is a team that I think, moving forward, needs to be competing to be one of the top-12 teams.”

Q: Are the building blocks already in place?

Coach Allen: “I think some of the building blocks are in place. I don’t think we have everything that we need. I think there are some other pieces to the puzzle that we need. Obviously some of that will come through the draft, some of that will come through free agency. I believe there are some building blocks in place.”

Q: What are the positives you can take from this season?

Coach Allen: “When I first look at it, some of the young guys that have really improved and come on as the season has moved on, I made mention of these a couple of days ago, guys like Rod Streater, guys like Andre Holmes, guys like Mychal Rivera, a guy like Rashad Jennings, who had the best year of his career, I look at some of those things and I say that there has been improvement there. There are young guys that have developed and gotten better. That’s where there is some brightness to the future. I look at guys on defense that had played as many snaps and played as well as they had played throughout their career. Guys that had been backup players that became starting players. I look at a guy like Brandian Ross, who probably played 1,000 plays this year, compared to 174 last year. I look at guys like Nick Roach, who had the best year of his career as a first-time three-down starter. I look at Kevin Burnett who, I thought, had a very good year as a linebacker. I look at young guys like Sio Moore and his development and I get excited about where he can go. I look at a young guy like DJ Hayden. I’m excited about where he can go and the fact that he’s going to have a full offseason to get his body in shape; getting bigger, getting stronger and having an offseason of health to give himself an opportunity to be successful next year. That’s what I look at. I look at young guys that have developed. I look at guys that we brought in here that have had the best years of their career. That’s where I see the signs of growth, that’s where I see the positives.

Q: How about for yourself? Your personal growth and development?

Coach Allen: “You go through the evaluation process on yourself week-in and week-out. There are certain things, and I spoke to the players today about things that I know that I could have done better, those aren’t things that I am going to go outwardly and talk about, but that’s what you do. This process isn’t just about the players. This is about the coaches, this is about the players, this is about the organization. It’s a constant evaluation process. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’re doomed to repeat the same things again. That’s going to be critical for us moving forward.”

Q: How much do you want Charles Woodson back and what would it take?

Coach Allen: “What would it take? I don’t know. You’d have to ask Charles. But, yeah, we’d like to have Charles back. Obviously there is a business aspect to this. We’ll let the business people handle that.”