Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen addresses the media. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen:"We won't do anything on injuries until next week. Wednesday of next week will be the next time we'll go over injuries. We went out there today. We got some good meetings this morning. We took all of the younger players, specifically the skill players, went through a seven-on-seven. The younger, big guys got a little bit of individual time. It's an opportunity for them to work their technique and get better. For the veteran players, we really use this time as an opportunity for them to get rested up and get recovered. They spent a lot of time in the training room just doing maintenance stuff. We'll use this bye week. We'll spend a lot of time on ourselves, looking at what we did well and what we have to improve on. Who is doing well? Who needs to improve? We'll use that time this week and get going on Pittsburgh next week."
Q: Same plan tomorrow?
Coach Allen: "Same plan tomorrow. We've got a lot of guys that are banged up, a lot of the veteran guys. We need them to get their bodies back, get their minds back. We'll give them a little bit of time. We're still meeting with them and spending a lot of time in the training room."
Q: You didn't handle it this way last year, did you?
Coach Allen: "No, we handled it a little bit differently this year. I just felt like with where we are as a football team, with the health of the football team, I thought it was important for the vteran players to get some time to take care of their bodies and get themselves back healthy and ready to go for next week."
Q: So everybody is here?
Coach Allen: "Yes, everybody is here."
Q: How important is the next stretch for you to catapult you through the season? You've got the bye week and the next two games at home.
Coach Allen: "It'll be huge. To get this bye, to get a chance to get healthy, and to come back after the bye and play the first two games at home will be critical for us. We've got to come out after the bye and we've got to play well. We've got to win some football games. Our guys are committed at that. They're working extremely hard. We're looking forward to getting back to work after the bye is over."
Q: What's the biggest silver lining through these first six games?
Coach Allen: "I don't know that you look at silver lining. The thing about this football team, is we've given ourselves opportunities to win games. That's what we've got to continue to do, put ourselves in those types of positions. The more we do that, the more experience we get with that, the better we're going to react to those situations and we'll begin to win games and get out on the plus-side. Having to come back and make some adjustments after tough losses. Our guys have confidence that we can win football games. I told the guys yesterday, we've got a good team in there. What we've got to do is learn how to, in those tough situations, in those critical moments, we have to learn how to train our minds to make those plays and take advantage of those opportunities that we have, so that we can win games. I think our guys are of the mindset that we're going to be able to get that done."
Q: How do you learn how to do that?
Coach Allen: "The biggest thing is to put yourselves in those types of positions. A lot of guys haven't been in those situations very much. The more opportunities that we have to be in those situations, the better that we're going to respond. Like I talk about every week, it's always a learning experience. What we've got to do is learn from those experiences and be able to take advantage next time. The critical thing is: you've got to put yourselves in those positions. We've put ourselves in those situations, now it's time for us to make those plays when we get those opportunities."
Q: How does it help to have veterans around, like Tracy Porter and Charles Woodson, who have been around those types of situations?
Coach Allen: "I think that's big. I think we've got a lot of veteran players that understand what it takes to win. We need some of these young players to step up and make the plans when they get the opportunities in those critical moments in those big games. When they do that, then we'll have the success that we believe we can have as a football team."
Q: Who do you look to on the offensive side of the ball for that?
Coach Allen: "There are guys who know how to win in this league. A guy like Mike Brisiel won a lot of games when he was in Houston. Tony Pashos has won some games over the course of his career. I look for guys like Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece to take leadership roles and be big-time players for us in critical moments of football games. We've got guys on that side of the ball. We've got guys in all three phases that understand what it takes. Now it's just a matter of us going out there and doing it."
Q: How active are you going to be at the end of the week to work out other guys?
Coach Allen: "We'll look. Reggie [McKenzie] and I will sit down and monitor where we're at and what we need to do. As we get closer to the end of the week, we'll have a better feel for where we are health-wise with our football team, and if there is anything we need to do towards the end of the week or if we need to wait.
Q: You mentioned Taiwan Jones play on special teams yesterday. What are the attributes for a 'gunner' to be good?
Coach Allen: "The first attribute for any special teams player, is to understand the importance of it and understand that role on the football team and how that can win games. Taiwan Jones loves to play football. He's embraced that role. He understands that right now, that's his role on the football team to help us have success. He's embraced it. Specifically out there as a gunner, obviously the fact that he's got the type of speed that he's got. His willingness to go down there and create contact and make tackles. Those are the things you have to have. I think he's done an outstanding job. I said this yesterday and I believe this, I think he's one of the best special teams players in this league right now. He's done a great job for us."
Q: People grow up wanting to be a quarterback or a defensive end. How do you 'sell' being a special teams player?
Coach Allen: "What I sell to players, and I think our players are buying in, is the team aspect of this game. There are three phases to the football team: there's offense, there's defense and there is special teams. All three of them can contribute to winning and losing football games. I think our guys on special teams have done a great job of buying in to what their role is. They're going to help this team win. I think Bobby April and Keith Burns have done a great job coaching them. I look for them to continue to play well. One area that we've got to get better in special teams, we've got to get better at the return game. We've got some explosive players and we've got to get them going."
Q: Players get their mandated four days off. What about the coaching staff?
Coach Allen: "We'll work through Thursday and then we'll take a little ebit of time off. We'll get everything prepared. We'll work this week not only looking at ourselves, but we'll look at the next couple opponents and have some preliminary opponents. We'll have a pretty good start on Pittsburgh by the time we come back on Monday."
Q: What is the message you give to the guys as they head out for four days?
Coach Allen: "The big message is: our job is to be accountable and be available. We've got to go off and take some time to get away a little bit, but yet not get too far away. Understand that when we get back rolling, we've got to have our body and our mind ready for the stretch-run of the season. That will critical of our success moving forward."