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News

Coach Allen at NFL Owners Meetings

Posted Mar 25, 2014

Quick hits from Head Coach Dennis Allen who took questions from the media at the AFC coaches breakfast at NFL owners meetings.

Head Coach Dennis Allen. AP Photo

Q: What is the next step for Matt [McGloin] in his evolution?

Coach Allen: I think with Matt it’s all about experience. It’s all about getting the reps in practice. It’s going to be about getting the reps in the preseason games and just gaining that experience because there’s no better teacher than experience. I think that’s the one thing when you look at Matt that he lacks and so I think it’ll be a great opportunity for him to be able to fall in behind a guy like Matt Schaub and see how a guy who has been successful in this league plays the quarterback position both on and off the field.

Q: I think everyone has mentioned you could use playmakers, is that necessarily stuff we can see from the outside or could it be a defensive lineman playmaker? How do you define what you want with that first…?

Coach Allen: We’re going to be looking for a player that can really make an impact and that to me will be somebody that you’ll recognize on Sundays and that guy will be out there making plays for us. The good thing about this draft is I do believe there’s a lot of impact players that are out there at several different positions, whether that be defensive line, defensive back, linebacker, wide receiver, offensive tackle. There are a lot of impact players that are out there in this draft.

Q: What attracted you to Justin Tuck?

Coach Allen: A lot like a lot of the other free agents we signed, one of the things we were looking for in this free agency, specifically with the way our roster is right now, is we really looked for veteran players that had leadership qualities that were part of winning programs. And that was something that we wanted to bring in to the building. And guys that could still play the game. We weren’t looking for mascots or hood ornaments; we were looking for guys that could come in and still play the game, yet they had the same qualities of leadership and understanding what it takes to be a championship football team. Justin Tuck, along with several of the other guys we were able to sign, had those qualities.

Q: Do you think based on how he finished last year that he has a lot left?

Coach Allen: I do. Again, like I just said, I’m not looking for mascots. I’m not looking for hood ornaments, I’m looking for guys who can play the game and guys that can help bring some of the young guys along and that’s one thing we looked at when we decided he was a guy we wanted to go after and try and get.

Q: It looks like you got starters in free agency…do you think that’s a sustainable approach?

Coach Allen: Absolutely not. I don’t think that’s the way you build your program. No and I think Reggie and I both have been on board with and publicly saying you don’t build your team through free agency. Obviously we were in a place this year where we felt like we really needed to go out there and fill a lot of holes in free agency to give us the foundation, give us the base, that now we can begin to build with. I think when you look at…I think we got some young players that we were able to acquire in the draft last year that I think are going to be good players for us. Our hope is that we’ll be able to continue that this year and we’ll be able to get more good players in the draft and that’s how we’ll be able to begin to build this team. We felt like we needed to go out and acquire some talent to kind of give us a base to build off of.

Q: LaMarr Woodley sure looks like a 3-4 edge guy. Are you settling in on a little more 3-4 stuff?

Coach Allen: No, we’re not really going to change a whole lot of what our base is. We brought Woodley in to be a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme. Obviously some of the things that we do have 3-4 principles. I think having a guy like him allows you to potentially be a little bit more flexible as far as what you do schematically. As a base, we’re going to still base out of the 4-3.

Q: What do you see James Jones bringing to the team?

Coach Allen: He’s going to bring a lot. Number one, he can still play and that’s the thing I’ve tried to emphasize with all of these veteran players that we’ve brought in is that they can still play and they can still play at a high level. James Jones, he’s got outstanding work ethic. Nobody is going to outwork him. He’s got great leadership qualities and leadership skills. And he’s a guy that’s going to provide a big, physical target for the quarterback to throw the ball to.

Q: Can you describe your relationship with Reggie [McKenzie]?

Coach Allen: It’s been good. We’ve got a good relationship. We communicate on a regular basis and we communicate on what we’re going to do from a personnel standpoint, how we want to construct the team and what we’re looking for. We don’t agree on everything, but I don’t think anybody does. But I think we have a great working relationship.

Q: Who are your foundation pieces on this team?

Coach Allen: I think those are guys that really are going to be ‘to be determined’ because we are going to have so many new guys on this team. Guys I see that are going to be foundation pieces and I want to be able to build with going into the future. Guys that we’ve been able to acquire and through the draft, guys like Mychal Rivera, I want to see him be a foundation piece because he’s a guy I thought came in and grew as a rookie. A guy like Sio Moore I think has outstanding ability. A DJ Hayden…I want to see these guys be the foundation pieces. Now I think in the short term, I think guys that we’ll be leaning on are going to be a lot more of these veteran guys that we’ve brought in, but I think guys that we want to build with going into the future are guys we brought into the program and guys we were able to draft.

Q: I know you’ve said Menelik Watson is right tackle…is that the way it is right now and was that the idea?

Coach Allen: The idea really was to try to acquire as much talent up front as we possibly could and hopefully have some flexibility of guys that can play different positions. Austin Howard was a guy that we know can play right tackle, but also have the ability to look at him some at guard to see how can we mix and match and put the best possible five-man lineup out there on the field. The one position I know is I know [Stefen] Wisniewski is going to be the center and that’s the way we’re going into this. Donald Penn will start off over on the left side and I think we want to look at maybe Austin Howard at guard some, look at Menelik Watson at right tackle. Obviously, that’s what we drafted him to be, but I think the good news is we’ve got some flexibility, especially with the injury issues we had last year, we can kind of slide some guys around that can play different positions.

Q: Where does [Tony] Bergstrom fit in that?

Coach Allen: Bergstrom is going to be kind of a guard/center. He’s played guard. That’s where I really view him as, but I could see us putting him in and trying to take a look at him at center to see if he can do that.

Q: What is it about players who have struggled in one place going to a new team that helps them?

Coach Allen: Sometimes when you get in those situations and the dominoes begin to fall, it’s kind of hard to stop the momentum a little bit. For whatever reason, whether it be the fan base or the coaching staff or the ownership and the tide turns against you, it’s hard to get that turned back around. Being able to put that behind him and come here to Oakland for that fresh start with a group that believes in him, that’s behind him, I think it’ll benefit him.

Q: What are your expectations for Latavius Murray this year?

Coach Allen: Latavius is a guy that I think has a lot of potential. When you look at him from an athletic standpoint, he’s a little over 6-2. He’s about 240 pounds. He ran a 4.3 40. Obviously he had the injury last year which he was never really...When I saw the tape of him in college, I was very impressed with him as a runner. He’s a big, physical back that has excellent footwork and lateral movement and he’s got good vision. The problem is I never really saw Latavius Murray from the time that he walked off the campus because really even then in the rookie mini-camp, he wasn’t 100 percent healthy. From all indications he’s healthy now and so I’m excited to see what he can do. The lasting memory that I have of him, I believe it was the Dallas game, preseason game, and he had a run on the opposite sideline and he was able to put a shoulder down and finish off the run in a physical manner. That’s what I hope he can do for us.

Q: What were some of the big lessons you learned going from assistant coach to head coach?

Coach Allen: There’s way more involved in it than you could ever imagine and you think you know but you don’t really know until you go through it. Every day there’s something that comes across your desk that you have to make a decision on. The volume of those decisions and the repercussions of those decisions a lot of times have a huge effect on the football team. The biggest thing is the volume of decisions you have to make and sometimes it’s the most minute decision and sometimes it’s the biggest, most critical decisions.