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Coach Allen Breaks Down Win Over Steelers


Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen: **Injury-wise, nothing really to report. We were able to come out of the game pretty healthy, or at least as healthy as we were when we came into the game. I'll address some players that you probably have questions about: Jared Veldheer is going to meet with his doctor in Los Angeles today. He'll have a check-up and we'll have a better understanding of what the time frame is for him to be back. Miles Burris should be back out there at practice on Wednesday, and I would expect to see Menelik Watson back out at practice on Wednesday. Other than that, I think the injuries were pretty much status quo for how it's been. Just talking about the game yesterday, obviously I thought that it was a big win for us; first time in 10 years that we've been able to come out of a bye and get that accomplished. I thought our players and coaches did a great job of understanding what we had to get accomplished over the bye week. I thought we had a good game plan going into the game, specifically early on in the game. I thought our team did a great job of executing. It was critical for us to be able to go out there and start fast against that football team who were on a little bit of a role, winning two-straight against a couple of tough, physical teams – the Jets and Baltimore. For us to start off the way that we did and get ourselves in a position where we get the 93-yard touchdown on the opening play of the game, then the second drive of the game we had an excellent opportunity – we had the drop on third-and-2, which would've put us at least in long-range field-goal range if we don't gain anything after that, and then the blocked punt which sets up on the 26-yard line and we get the touchdown on that. So, we scored touchdowns on two of our first three offensive possessions. Defensively, four of our first six defensive possessions were three-and-outs. Eleven-of-15 in the game were one first down or less on the drive. So I thought it was outstanding the way we were able to come out and start the game off. I also thought that the two-minute drive, offensively, at the end of the first half, to be able to go out there and take it 72 yards – I believe we took six minutes and five seconds off the clock, to finish it off with a touchdown was a huge factor during the game. I thought in all phases of the game that we did some good things. We thought that the time of possession was a critical factor in this game. We knew were going to have to run the football. We knew we needed to be able to convert some third downs. Defensively, we knew we were going to have to stop the run, and play good third-down defense. We were able to do that on both sides of the ball in the first half, obviously we weren't able to continue that through the second half, but we knew that was going to be a critical factor in the game. On special teams we had the blocked punt, which I thought was huge. Fielding that onside kick was a big play in the game. I thought we had a little bit more in our return game – there's still some things that we need to be able to get tightened up – the blocking. We have to do a better job of handling the football and protecting the football. I thought we did some really good things, but I thought we got a little bit sloppy with the football and that was the thing that concerned me the most – offensively and in the kicking game. It's great when you get a chance to get a win. You can't ever take these things for granted in the National Football League. They're tough to come by, so for us to get a win, get our record to 3-4 – we've got an opportunity with Philadelphia coming in here to get our record back to .500, and maybe we can create a little momentum.

Q: You've now had four games in a row where you've been able to start fast, especially on offense, but then in the second half, slow down. Is there a theme as to why that's going on?

Coach Allen:Well, really, if you look at it, we've got to execute better. I mean we've got some opportunities to make some plays and we're not making the plays that are there for us. In the game the other day, they [the Pittsburgh Steelers] obviously wanted to load the box up and stop the run. On the first drive, I really would've liked for Terrelle [Pryor] to have handed the ball off to Darren [McFadden]. He tried to hand it off around the edge and we felt like we had a little bit of a play right there, but we had a couple of communication errors. Then on the second drive, when you get in that situation and the ball is inside the one-yard line and you're trying to get it off the goal line and get a first down, we were able to do that and change the field position. But really, we had two drives in the third quarter, but in the fourth quarter, it boiled down to when we get the opportunities to make the plays we need to make the plays. We've got to throw the ball; we've got to catch the ball; and we've got to create some lanes to run the ball more effectively.

Q: Where do you find the balance, on both sides of the ball, of playing safe and conservative and not giving up the lead?

Coach Allen:Every game is going to be different, alright? You've got to understand how you're going to win the game, and it's not always about how pretty does it look. The ultimate goal is to win the football game. We had a defense that was playing outstanding in the football game, was taking the ball away, was creating a lot of pressure on the quarterback, that wasn't giving up a lot of points. And the only chance that they had to get back in the game was for us to make mistakes and give them those opportunities. Unfortunately, we did that. We had the screen pass, which you think is a pretty conservative play – it's a chance for an explosive player to get into space. We didn't execute the play the way we wanted to. We don't block the guy we're supposed to block; he gets back in there, hits Jacoby [Ford], the ball goes on the ground and they then have the ball on the 10-yard line. So, I understand how you're going to win football games and when the defense is playing really well, you've got to protect the football and you've got to let your defense go out and win the game for you.

Q: How much did the Steelers long possession affect your offense?

Coach Allen:I don't know if that was a big factor in it or not. It was a huge factor in the game – the fact that they had the ball for over nine minutes and didn't get any points out of it. I think our field-goal rush had something to do with them missing those field goals. I think our field-goal rush has done a good job at going after field goals. We've gotten our hands on a couple of field goals this year, and I'd like to think that that had a little bit of a factor in them missing those field goals. But, I don't know if that got us out of any type of rhythm or anything, I just think when we had the plays to make we didn't make those same plays, whereas in the first half, we made those plays.

Q: Can you talk about what kind of presence Rashad Jennings has made on special teams this year?

Coach Allen:Well he's done a great job for us. He's kind of been one of those guys for us that is a little bit of a jack of all trades. When we've needed him to go back there and carry the ball, he's carried the ball. He's done a great job on special teams – I think he has two blocks on the year. He's done a good job in the return game. I think you need those types of players on any football team to have a chance to have success. I think he understands what his role is. He's embraced his role and he's done a great job at it.

Q: What sort of markers are you using to gauge Terrelle Pryor's progress – obviously he's doing well in some areas and not doing well in others – do you literally have a check list that you can identify the areas he's doing well in?

Coach Allen:I wouldn't say we have a sheet of paper or a list of things that we check off on a weekly basis that we give to him and say that these are the things you need to work on. But yeah, there's things that we look at with him to gauge his ability as a quarterback; his ability to get in and out of the huddle, his ability to get us to the line of scrimmage, his ability to make the right quarterback read schemes, how's his pocket presence, is he giving his protection enough time, is he giving his protection enough time, what's his footwork like in the pocket. These are all the things you look at for a quarterback, and I think he's improving. I think he's made some significant strides, but I also think there's room for some significant improvement, a lot of room for growth. I think that with any young player that I want to see the most is consistency – can we be consistent from the first series to the last series; from the first half to the second half. Can we be a little bit more consistent, and that's with all of our players. The more we're able to do that, the more we'll be able to put together a full game.

Q: People like to make comparisons in this league. Is it fair to compare Terrelle Pryor to other quarterbacks with his unique skill set?

Coach Allen: Well the tendency to compare goes on outside of this building. He's Terrelle Pryor. He's unique. He's not somebody else that somebody else that you might want to compare him to, and we know what his strengths are. We know what his weaknesses are. We need to be able to put him in position to accent his strengths, and try to limit the times we ask him to do things that maybe he's not as good at.  I stay away from the comparison thing because each individual player is unique in and of himself, and we've got to do a great job of putting him in a position to make plays.

Q: What kind of impact did having Stefen Wisniewski back make in the game?

Coach Allen: I thought it was good to have him back out there. I thought he was a little rusty. I don't think he played as well as maybe he has in some past games, but I think that comes from, I think it's been three weeks off now that he's had. I think he'll improve as we go along. I think the biggest thing in that game was just that he's a calming presence up front. He does a good job of all the communication — making sure we're targeting the right people. I think from that standpoint, that's where I saw the positive in what he was able to bring to us.

Q: It seemed like LaMarr Woodley, for being on Matt McCants side, didn't have that big of a game. Did McCants have a pretty solid game?

Coach Allen:I thought McCants played well. He's a guy that every time we put him in their he continues to do some good things, so I think that's going to bode well for us as we continue on down the road — the fact that he's been able to go in there and play well.

Q: Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver sent out an apology for flipping off the officials in yesterday's game, but he's done a great job with this defense. Is that one of those things where you say, "Hey, let's just forget about it?"

Coach Allen:I don't know if it's one of those things you say, "Hey, let's forget about it." Listen he's made his statement about what happen. The only thing I'll say is I think he's done an outstanding job with this defense. I think he's a fiery and emotional guy, and I think our players have really taken to that. I think they've embraced that type of attitude, and I think he's got the defense playing at a high level right now.

Q: Are you on board with Terrelle Pryor going to get outside help like he's done with Tom House?

Coach Allen:Well like I said before, as long as it's not taking away from the things that we're trying to get accomplished here, I'm all for guys trying to make themselves better, but the key is making sure it's within the framework of what we're trying to get accomplished here. That's one of the guys that as a staff we felt comfortable having him work with a little bit. The biggest improvement is going to be what's done inside this building. That's where he's going to make the biggest strides.

Q: Is that stuff more necessary now with the amount of limited time you have with these players in the offseason? Do they maybe need more outside help?

Coach Allen:I don't really see it that way. I think we get plenty of time to work with these guys and to help them get better, but if a guy wants to do something above and beyond, I'm certainly for it.

Q: A lot of comments are made about Charles Woodson and the swagger he brings to the defense. What about a guy like Tracy Porter who has been showing up more and more in games and making plays? What does he bring to this team in the meeting rooms and outside of the football field?

Coach Allen:Well we've got a lot of guys that bring a lot. Like I've said before, probably a lot of people outside of this area, outside of this building probably don't know a lot about who these 'no-name' guys are on defense, but we've got a lot of guys who are pretty good football players. Tracy's one of them. Tracy's a guy who's made a lot of big plays in a lot of big games — one on the biggest stage there is. I think a lot of these guys that we brought in here kind of have a little chip on their shoulders. They want to prove that they're worthy of being top-notch players in this league. I think they've all come together which has been the most impressive thing — that all of them have come together for a common goal, common cause, common purpose, and they're playing really well together.

Q: Sio Moore talked last night about how he's trying to be a better pro, take more detailed notes, be more organized, be more efficient and active in meetings. Do you think that's helping him on the field?

Coach Allen:Absolutely, and it's something that really I've noticed a lot more over the last two or three weeks. He's done a better job of preparing himself early in the week for what he's going to see on Sunday, and I think you've seen the results of that. It's really no secret. You take a guy with athletic ability, with talent, and you give him the mental processes, you give him the information and he understands what he's seeing, you expect him to make plays. I think that's something that all young guys learn as they go along. When guys come in here, most of the time these rookies, they don't know what it takes to prepare to be a pro. Nine-out-of-10 times a lot of them have gotten by on athletic ability alone, but you can't get by on it in this league. He's a guy that's learned that, and I think now he's getting better at preparing himself.

Q: Where do you see his potential as a pass rusher?

Coach Allen:I think he could be a solid pass rusher. I'm not ready to declare that he's the next [former Chiefs LB] Derrick Thomas, but I think he's got some good pass-rush ability. I think the more that he continues to study, not just schematically what we're doing, but the more he's able to study his opponent and see how their setting him, where they're putting their hands, those little things — the techniques and the fundamentals of playing the game, then I can see some real progress being made.

Q: What's your assessment of the job the backup receivers did on Sunday?

Coach Allen:Well we've got to do better. I think overall we've got to be better. Brice [Butler] had really two costly drops in the game. Jacoby [Ford] had the fumble. I just think we've got to get better production overall from that position. Again, it's the consistency factor. We've got to be a lot more consistent in doing our job and making the plays we've got the opportunity to make, whether it be in the run game blocking, whether it be running our routes exactly right and catching the football. That will be an area we're going to emphasize to make sure we improve in that area.

Q: Philadelphia is coming in here with some questions about their quarterbacks. How do you deal with a team where it could be one of three different quarterbacks?

Coach Allen:Well we spent this morning really cleaning up the Pittsburgh stuff, so I haven't really had a chance to get ahead on Philly yet. We'll have to look at what they're doing. The good news is we've seen all three of those quarterbacks play, so we've kind of got a feel for what they're going to do with each quarterback. We've seen what some of their strengths are and some of the vulnerabilities of each one of those guys are. We'll have to look at it and kind of monitor that situation as we go along. Schematically, I don't think that they'll be a whole lot different based on who the quarterback is.

Q: The trade deadline is tomorrow. What do you think the difficulties are in bringing a guy off another team this late in the season? Why it doesn't happen that much?

Coach Allen:Well there's a reason why you go to training camp. There's a reason why you have an offseason program. It's so that you can install your schemes and what you want to do offensively, defensively, in the kicking game, how you're going to build the culture of your football team. It's just hard to bring a guy in in the middle of the year and think that he's going to come in and have a chance to be really effective for you midway through the year. I just think it's a tough proposition to think that you're going to bring somebody in that's going to make a huge difference, but we'll see.

Q: A lot has been made of [Eagles Head Coach] Chip Kelly's up-tempo offense. Have you seen anything close to that this season?

Coach Allen:Well again, I haven't had the opportunity yet to study a lot on Philly. I've obviously seen them throughout the course of the year a little bit, but we've faced some up-tempo offenses. I mean Denver is an up-tempo offense. Jacksonville was an up-tempo offense. We'll face those types. San Diego was up-tempo at times when we played them. We'll see what they're doing and how they're doing it, and we'll have a good plan to try to stop them.

Q: You guys moved Jacoby Ford to punt returner. Was Philip Adams banged up?

Coach Allen:No. Listen, we're trying to get something going in the return game, and like I said earlier, Jacoby had a nice return. He put the ball on the ground, which can't happen, and Taiwan Jones had a nice return on the first kickoff of the game that got called back with a penalty. The return game is an area that we've got to look to improve and get something going there. I think special teams-wise, we've done a great job on our coverage units, but we've got to get something going in the return game. We wanted to take a look at a couple different returners and a couple different things and see if that could provide some of that.

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