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News

Talking Eagles Match-Up with Coach Allen

Posted Oct 30, 2013

Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media after Wednesday's practice as the Raiders get ready to host the Philadelphia Eagles.

Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen: Injury report today – we had three guys that didn’t participate in practice: Tyvon Branch, Andre Gurode and Tony Pashos. Menelik Watson was back on a limited basis. Miles Burris was back out at practice so we start the 21-day window with him. I thought both those guys looked fairly decent out there at practice. We’ll continue to evaluate them as the week goes on. That was good to see to have those guys back out there. Those guys can help us. This week, obviously we feel great about having an opportunity to get back out in front of the home crowd. I thought the atmosphere last week was outstanding. I would expect another very good atmosphere to play football in. We’ve got a tough opponent coming in here. This is an explosive offense. They set a record for offense in the first six games of the season. Nick Foles will be the quarterback for them. He presents some challenges as a quarterback that can throw the football and understands what they’re trying to do in the offense. LeSean McCoy is leading the league in rushing. He’s an outstanding running back. He’s a big-time player and a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. We have to understand what we’re dealing with there. They’ve got solid receivers. DeSean Jackson is another one of the homerun threats that they have. They have a lot of guys with a lot of speed that can create a lot of big plays and do a good job up front on offense, both in the run game and in protection. Defensively, they’re a big, physical front. They’ve got two inside backers that are really fast and athletic and instinctive. They’re big at outside linebacker position. They’ve got a couple corners that are big, physical corners that can really cover. And then obviously in the kicking game, their returner is in the Top 10 in the league, both punt returns and kick returns, so we have to do a great job in our coverage units of limiting that. Field position, as it always is, will be a big factor in this football game. We’re excited about getting an opportunity to play, so we’ll see what happens.

Q: You said Monday that Veldheer was heading to Los Angeles to get an opinion to see where he is and when there might be a realistic time he could come back. Do you have an idea of that?

Coach Allen: Yeah, and we’re at a point now where we can kind of ramp up the rehab a little bit. I still think he’s a little bit away, but indications that he’s on schedule and we’re going to be able to ramp up the rehab and hopefully we’ll have him out there sooner rather than later. But he’s on schedule for his return.

Q: The way you described the Eagles, it sounds like you’re already behind 30-0. They’ve only scored 10 points total in the last two games, where is there issue?

Coach Allen: Listen, they’re an explosive offense and they can make a lot of plays. When you look at the last couple of weeks, obviously we thought highly of Matt Barkley coming out of the draft, but when you get down to your third-team quarterback, you’re going to have some struggles and some challenges and especially when he’s having to come in, in a relief appearance. I look at the whole body of work, not just the last couple of weeks. This is an explosive offensive football team that can gain a lot of yards and put a lot of points on the board. We have to understand what we’re dealing with.

Q: You said that Veldheer was on schedule; what was the original schedule planned?

Coach Allen: Really, from everything I’ve been able to gather, it’s about a three month process. He’s on schedule for return.

Q: JT had talked about using Miles Burris at all three linebacker spots and is that the plan still as he goes through it? Is he focusing at one spot or the other?

Coach Allen: He’s been paying attention to all three linebacker spots in the meetings. That’s been the good thing is he’s been able to go through all the meetings. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to get any of the practice time, so I think really where we’re at right now is he’s preparing for all three linebacker spots, but getting an opportunity to get him out here and actually go through some football activity and see where he’s at movement-wise, see where he’s at conditioning-wise, that’ll be a big factor as to when and if we decide to bring him up to the active roster.

Q: Would it be more realistic that his early contributions will be on special teams more so than on defense?

Coach Allen: Obviously we feel good about the linebackers we have in place and they’ve played very well up to this point, but you’re always looking to increase your depth. We’ve seen at other positions on our team where depth is a critical factor and guys are going to have to come in and play. He’ll provide, as long as he’s healthy, he’ll provide some real solid depth for us as at the linebacker position.

Q: How has Martez Wilson done in his week here so far?

Coach Allen: He’s done a good job. Like I was saying last week, it’s hard when you bring a guy in, in the middle of the year, to kind of get assimilated into what you’re doing schematically as well as the culture, the way we go about doing things, the way we meet, the way we practice, all those different kinds of things. It’s an adjustment period for him, but again, he’s a big, strong, athletic linebacker, and we’re going to keep evaluating him as we go through the next couple of weeks and see what he can do and see where he can help us.

Q: Menelik has missed so much time over the course of camp and the regular season, what’s a realistic expectation for him to be able to contribute at some point? Do you need to see a larger body of practice work before you’d consider throwing him in? Or does his talent outweigh some things?

Coach Allen: It’s a two factor question. I think with some of the depth issues we have at the offensive line right there, he could potentially be forced into action sooner than maybe we would normally want. I think we have to evaluate how he goes throughout practice, where he is mentally, as well as where he’s at physically.

Q: Is he still primarily a left tackle?

Coach Allen: I think he’s going to have to play both. I think we’ll give him a little bit more work probably on the left side, but I think he’s got to be able to play both for us.

Q: Are Pashos and Gurode still short term injuries or they longer term injuries now?

Coach Allen: They’re short term injuries. Now is that this week, next week, when that is I don’t know, but I don’t expect them to be out a whole lot longer. You never know with these injuries. You never know how these things can go, whether there’s any type of setback in the rehab process or whatever. I’m hopeful that they’ll be back soon.

Q: I know you every week you’d like to see your passing game get going, but specifically the Eagles struggling in the passing defense, do you feel this is a week you need Terrelle Pryor and company to get going?

Coach Allen: I think we have to be efficient on offense and to be able to do that you have to be able to run the ball and throw the ball. Like I’ve said before, each week is going to be different. We’ll take this game plan, we’ll see what the things are that we think we can get accomplished against their defense and we’ll try to take advantage of whatever weaknesses that we see. But yeah, I think the big picture and the big scheme of things, we want to try to get more consistent in the passing game.

Q: In the first half last week you talked about the core runs and it seemed like McFadden was doing a better job on those runs in the first half of that game than he’d done all year long. Obviously the second half had its own set of problems, but was that encouraging to see him getting the 4’s and 5’s and 6’s, rather than just 1’s?

Coach Allen: Absolutely. The way the running game works, the running game is about how many attempts can you get. And our thought process is that if we have enough attempts, eventually we’re going to bust one out and have a good run. I think he averaged a little over 4.5 yards a carry in the first half. Obviously they were loading the box a little bit more in the second half and it became a little bit tougher to do. But yeah, I’m hopeful. There’s going to be some 1’s and 2’s in there, but I’m hoping we see a few more 6’s and 7’s and maybe even a couple of big runs in there.

Q: When you talk about [Chip] Kelly’s offense, it was supposed to be such a high-powered spread offense. Is it that different that you’ve seen than you’ve seen before or is it maybe they’ve got some guys who can do those things?

Coach Allen: A little bit of both. They do some things from a tempo standpoint that make it difficult on you. They do some things where the concept of the offense is really to spread the defense out and get their playmakers in space. Being a great space tackling team will be critical in this game. They have some playmakers they can get the ball to in space. I think it’s a little bit of what they do schematically and just their ability with their playmakers.

Q: First game of the season they went crazy on offense the way Oregon had gone the last few years and people said, ‘this is going to change the whole NFL,’ and then since then very little. The NFL, basically the coordinators, can figure out things after a week out to stop it; is that what happens?

Coach Allen: Well they’re fifth in total offense, so they’re still a really good offense and they still have a lot of really talented players. I’m not ready to say everybody has figured it out. But you have to be sound fundamentally in what you’re trying to do. And, again, you have to be great space tacklers and understand how they’re trying to attack with their different formations and their spread out stuff they’re trying to do.

Q: With Tarver having coached against Oregon at Stanford, I think he mentioned that was something you guys had discussed when he came in, that those guys of offensives he would have some familiarity with. Is that…?

Coach Allen: You see some of the college influence in the National Football League. I think with a lot of the spread offenses with some of the zone read type of stuff that you’re seeing with some of the running quarterbacks, that’s something that has kind of infiltrated into the National Football League. That prior to the last couple of years wasn’t something that a lot of defensive coaches in the National Football League paid attention to. We didn’t have to worry a lot about running quarterbacks. Well, now you do. Having a guy that’s had some experience with defending those type of things is a benefit to us.

Q: The Eagles swear their offense remains the same whether it’s Vick under center or Foles. How different though truly is it to defend against either of those guys?

Coach Allen: I hadn’t seen a whole lot of difference as far as the things they do, what they do. Obviously, Michael Vick has that added dimension with his athleticism and speed, but they’re still trying to spread you out, taking advantage of match-ups, trying to get the box unloaded so they can run the ball and get LeSean McCoy going. What they do schematically really hadn’t changed a whole lot.

Q: Last week Andre Holmes had more snaps than Ford and Butler; is he earning a bigger role in the offense?

Coach Allen: Yeah, I think he is. Obviously we want to try to continue to get him involved. Right now, I feel good about the wide receiver position. I want to see a little bit more consistency, but that’s not too much different than the rest of the football team. Yeah, he’s a big bodied guy. He had a really good preseason. He obviously missed a lot of time with the suspension so he’s still getting back into the groove of the offense a little bit, but he’s a guy that I think can help us.

Q: Does he use his size well?

Coach Allen: Yeah, he uses his size real well. He’s a big target and he can go up and get the ball.

Q: We know Terrelle can run the football; what are some of the things that maybe you haven’t seen from him yet that you are looking to still see from him?

Coach Allen: I think it all still stems back to just the consistency of playing the quarterback position. I mean, he’s made huge strides, don’t get me wrong. This kid has come a long way as far as playing quarterback, but we still have to see the consistency in the pocket, of making the right reads, of going to the right spots, throwing the ball on time with accuracy, and still be able to use his athleticism to create plays for us when things break down. I don’t ever want to take that away from him because that’s what makes him special, that’s what makes him different from some of the other quarterbacks in the league. But I think really the consistency is really what we’re looking for. I think that’ll come the more experience he has because he’s a young player.