Q: When you watch the tape, what have you seen the last few weeks from the Raiders defense?
Smith: "I think the first thing you see is that they've been in a bunch of close games these last few weeks. Certainly in the position to win and playing good football. It's a little deceivingly when you look at their record and you look at these games and their chance to win a big majority of them and then playing really well against some good offenses. You look at what they did last week against San Diego and really shutting them down for the most part and flying around. They do it a lot on defense. They throw a lot at you from a quarterback's perspective and give you a lot to handle. And tough up front and a pretty veteran group in the secondary."
Q: Last year you played Week 15 in Oakland and you guys threw, I believe, it was three or four screen passes for touchdowns. Why do you think that was so effective?
Smith: "Probably for a number of reasons. It's tough to say. Timing, a matter of hitting them at the right time, that's kind of the deal with those sometimes. We felt like, looking at them last year, I can remember it just felt like on the road and time and circumstance were some 3rd-and-longs and they were coming after the passer. Tough to totally remember I guess, but looking at the film a little bit, I just remember where we were at last year, kind of a different team at this point."
Q: What are your impressions of Khalil Mack so far?
Smith: "He's playing really, really well. He's playing at a high level. He's very disruptive for a rookie. He's physical. He's beaten guys one-on-one, really tough to handle up front coming off the edge. Good player at this point, he has been pretty impressive to watch on tape."
Q: Is there any concern that a wide receiver hasn't caught a touchdown pass this year?
Smith: "No, I think we're more concerned with scoring touchdowns period more than anything. We've got a group that doesn't really care who's getting them, as long as they're scoring. Certainly a credit to those guys, how selfless they are, selfless as this offense is, they're really just playing for each other. That would be the big thing we're worried about is just scoring points."
Q: Jamaal Charles obviously he's scored for you. Is he running as well as he ever has?
Smith: "He's run pretty well ever since I've been here. He just continues to play at a high level, just that type of player. Week in and week out, every single play, the guy does it all; he does it all for us."
Q: You've been on a team that's struggled, and coming in as a young quarterback, can you talk a little bit about the developmental process and how that was for you?
Smith: "It was hard. It was difficult. And everybody is different. All those situations are different young quarterbacks walk into and mine certainly was. Coming from a spread system into a pro-style playbook, it was difficult for me and there certainly was a learning curve, especially when you're kind of thrown out there early playing and learning through your mistakes. It can be tough. Like I said, every situation is different, but certainly for ours, it wasn't bad for me. Learning new systems the first year was also a challenge as well."
Q: Was there any one thing that maybe was a little bit more difficult to master in those first few years?
Smith: "It's everything. Everything gets compounded. It's not just your offensive playbook, but it's all the defenses you're going against. In college, you're seeing a fraction of what you see at the NFL and guys are better and faster and don't get beat as easily. They're smarter. It doesn't take them as long for them to pick things up and pick up what you're doing. And then certainly as a young quarterback, I think they kind of feast on that. They do more. They disguise more, throw more out you to see if you can handle it as a young QB because most can't. So you get kind of a gauntlet as far as what a defense does to you and let alone the volume you have to handle on your side of the ball. So those two things kind of get compounded."
Q: Between looking at the tape and all the game prep and when you get to a game, how long was it before you kind of felt comfortable to the point where you could read defenses well or well enough to maybe find the different gaps or that sort of thing on a consistent basis?
Smith: "It'd be hard to even tell you. Some games felt better than others, and that's still the case. It'd be hard to tell you an exact time when that happened. Some of the things got better as they went on and my second year definitely felt much more comfortable than my first, that's for sure."