Coach Ryan: “Obviously, he had an outstanding preseason. He’s just a talented guy. We knew he was when he came out, but he’s got the arm strength. He’s got mobility, a fairly quick release. He’s got a feel where he can step and slide away from pass rush and stuff like that, so he looks good.”
Q: Your defenses have had a pretty good record against rookie quarterbacks. What are the challenges for a rookie in this league?
Coach Ryan: “I just think it moves a little quicker in this league. The skill level of the people you’re going against, I think, makes it difficult. But again, you’re right, we’ve started two rookies since I have been here. It is what it is. When we look at this kid, we don’t treat him any different than anybody else, so it looks like clearly he belongs. He has confidence. It looks like the team has confidence in him and are energized by him, so we’re treating him no different than we would a veteran player.”
Q: How different is Geno Smith going into his second year for you guys?
Coach Ryan: “He’s night and day different. Each guy comes from a different system or whatever, but there was no three-step drop, five-step drop, seven-step drop where he came from. It was very different for him, but this young man has shown a ton of poise. At the end of last season, the last month of the year, he was the second-highest quarterback rating in the National Football League. Everybody wants to talk about … Now, he was dead last up until that point, but they assume that he was dead last the whole season and that’s not the case. You’ll have a chance to see him up close and personal. He is a guy that is poised, much more than he was last year. He can make the throws. He’s got a big, strong arm. He knows where he’s going with the football, so he looks sharp to me.”
Q: What do you see on film from the Raiders’ overhauled defense?
Coach Ryan: “What do you see on film from them? Well, you’re exactly right. The thing that pops out is you look at the names on the back of the jerseys – they are some pretty darn impressive players. You have [LaMarr] Woodley. You have [Justin] Tuck. You have [Antonio] Smith, [Carlos] Rogers. It’s ‘whoa.’ It’s a who’s who on that defense. This team overall probably has more veteran experience than any team in the league when you’re looking at the veterans that they’ve added. So, it’s like whoa, this is not a young football [team]. This is a team that is laced with veterans, so obviously, these guys know how to play the game and there is, obviously, a lot of talent on this team.”
Q: You guys had
Coach Ryan: “No question it’s tough to lose a guy, a young player that really fits the mold that you looks for that we’re really proud of his development. But the credit goes to him. He’s the guy that pushed himself and did everything and made himself become an outstanding football player. The type of young man he is, a tremendous person. He’s a heck of a football player. People might not know his name, but they’re going to. He’s really an excellent player.”
Coach Ryan: “I knew we’d never see him. (laughing) We watched one tape and I’m like, huh, good luck we’ll never see this kid. But clearly he’s a guy that has an unbelievable amount of talent. He can do it all. He can rush the passer, play coverage, scores when he gets picks. His movement skills are outstanding. He plays with a certain passion and things, but again, I knew we wouldn’t see him.”
Q: The Raiders have lost, I think, 13 games straight in the Eastern time zone. When you’re playing a team on the West Coast, is it ever a topic of conversation or is it just something that is never even addressed?
Coach Ryan: “Well, I think at one point it’s overblown, because I think when you look at last year the teams that had the most success were west coast teams coming to the east coast. Now, obviously with the Raiders having bad numbers, they haven’t had the success of it, but I think it’s football is football, regardless of where you play it.”
Q: Is there somewhat of a feeling out process that goes on early in a Week 1 game, especially with a team that has so many new faces on it? Do you have to take the preseason film with a grain of salt?
Coach Ryan: “Yeah, hey, we’re just going to show up and do what we do. Again, we played the Raiders last year, we’ve seen their tape, they’ve seen us and everything else. That part of it is, it’s not like, oh, all of a sudden you’re going to run the wishbone, which by the way, we’re going to run this game. That part of it, ‘oh, we’re holding them back,’ I don’t believe that, everybody, you just play, and that’s really what you do.”