Head Coach Dennis Allen spoke to the media at the coaches breakfast at NFL Owners' meetings in Arizona this morning. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.
On comparing last offseason to this offseason:
Coach Allen: "Last year was a mad dash. This year is really actually calm, as far as what's going on in the organization, what's going on with the coaches, the personnel. We have a real plan, a real vision for what we want to do with this thing. As far as the offseason, I think the coach additions to our staff were outstanding. I think some of the personnel moves, we didn't necessarily want to lose some of those. We would've loved to have had all four of those guys back (Philip Wheeler, Desmond Bryant, Brandon Myers and Matt Shaughnessy). We also felt we made some really good additions to our team, from a personnel standpoint. Those guys we added we feel can help us, not just from a football standpoint but from a culture, and a locker-room standpoint. They're really the right type of guys that we're looking for."
On adopting the type of personnel plan shared in New England, Baltimore, Atlanta, smart personnel moves, etc:
Coach Allen: "Listen, those are three great business models to follow, when you look at the success they've had in this league. That's one of things we try to do. We try to look at the teams that have been successful and how they've done it. The teams that have sustained success in this league have done it with an accumulation of smart decisions, smart business decisions, smart football decisions. That's really what we want to do. We're really not into microwave economics, where you're trying to get everything done right now, and you're trying to get out and make a big splash, and you say, 'Well, we won March.' We want to win November, December and January. That's what we want this team to do (eventually)."
On the systematic approach to building a team through the draft, not free agency:
Coach Allen: "It depends on where your team is. There are things you can do, not quick fix, but the more established your team is, you can make one or two changes and it really affects your team a lot. Then, some of the teams like where we're at, we're trying to build this team and it's not one piece that makes the difference. So, the draft, if you want to look at the teams that have been able to draft well, they're the teams that, they're in this year, they're in it next year, they're in it the year after that, and the year after. That's what we want to be. We want to be one of those teams. We don't want to be a flash in the pan, you know, where you show up for a year, and here we are, we're a playoff contender, and then the next year you don't hear from us. We want to build a team that's going to compete year in and year out."
On the quarterback situation in the scope of that plan, renegotiating Carson Palmer's salary, and whether he is the starting QB:
Coach Allen: "No. 1, I'm not going to comment on anything regarding a contract. Yeah, Carson enters the offseason as our starting quarterback, but we've been on the record as saying we want to have competition at every position on our football team. We just went out and signed three new linebackers, but we have Miles Burris, who we think is a starting-caliber linebacker. So, now we feel like we have four starting-caliber linebackers. That, one, makes us better from a competition standpoint; all of those guys are going to compete for an opportunity to play; and it makes us better from a depth standpoint, and it makes us better from a standpoint of, if we're only counting on three linebackers all the time, somebody has to have a greater role on special teams. The more competition there is, the better we're going to be."
On Terrelle Pryor's chances to start:
Coach Allen: "We're not handed our starting jobs, but I'll also say this: Yeah there's going to be competition. But I think when you look at competition, there's always an incumbent, the guy who was the starter, and he's going to go into the offseason as the starter. And then the players behind him, they've got to earn those opportunities. So, Terrelle's got to be able to show us something throughout the offseason and the more he shows us that he's going to be able to do the things it takes to be a starting quarterback in this league, the more opportunities he'll get."
On displaying leadership qualities:
Coach Allen: "Everything we do in the NFL is being evaluated every day, and especially at that position, because that's the most important position on the field, quarterback."
Coach Allen: "I don't think there's any question that he's committed. He's trying to do everything necessary to win. He's absolutely one of the hardest-working guys we've got in our organization. That, I have no problem with, at all. He's got to continue to develop from a quarterback standpoint, the timing, decision-making, accuracy, those things that you see from successful quarterbacks in this league. He's continuing to work on it every day."
On Pryor's recent comments, campaigning for himself, and realizing how young he is, that he would've been part of this draft class had he remained with the Buckeyes:
Coach Allen: "That's all part of the learning process for Terrelle. Let's not forget, this is a guy who came out of college really early, had an issue at Ohio State, held out of the NFL, he's got a suspension for almost half a season. So, we think he's, let's just call it 18 months of being in the National Football League. I don't know what those exact numbers are. So, he's still a very young player. There's a lot more to the National Football League than just playing football. Those are all part of things he's going through, part of the process."
On the staggering salary-cap issues the Raiders faced last year, compared to other teams:
Coach Allen: "To be totally frank with you, I don't know that Reggie or myself knew exactly where it was. We knew there was a lot of work to do in that regard, but I think as you go through and you really start crunching the numbers, you've got to see where you're at, what you have to do. A lot of teams face those cap decisions, but the volume of decisions (keeping and releasing players) that we went through last year I think were unusual compared to other teams."