Q: Any new thoughts after watching the film from yesterday's game?
Coach Sparano:"My assessment after watching the film and going through it thoroughly, several times, is that obviously Kansas City played, I think Kansas City played a lot more physical than we did yesterday. I didn't love the way our fronts played yesterday, particularly on the offensive side of the football and I again thought that with the score being 10-6 at one point there and 10-6 isn't good enough on the road. We needed a touchdown in that drive after the turnover, and we've been a very good red zone team the entire season. On the first down play there, unfortunately we had an error there. We had an error in a route that was out there, it's irrelevant to who and what and why, but we had a little bit of a miscommunication there, which I think I said last night after the game. So, Derek [Carr] was kind of waiting on that. All that being said, we gave up a sack in that situation. That was one play where I thought there was enough time. We settled for a field goal there in that situation which is not good and then as I mentioned last night, from there they get the ball, they go down and score, we have a big play within that drive and in big plays yesterday in the game, although not 10 of them, there were five big plays that they had in the ball game yesterday. The problem is that equaled 195 [or] 197 yards, they had 388 yards [total]. So, on five plays, they gained half their offense yesterday. So that hurt us. There was a big play aided in that drive and then two penalties in that drive. Those things hurt us, can't do that. All that being said, at that point, the score is still 17-6, and then we come out and put the ball on the ground on the 24-yard line and they score on two plays and we miss three tackles. So, fundamentally, we needed to be better. You can't have the – you can't do those kind of things in any football game, but you certainly can't do those things when you're on the road and in an environment like that, and kind of feed their ego with false starts and with penalties and then turn it into a game that you have to throw the football as much as we had to throw the ball with that kind of pass rush. What they did yesterday in the rush is they covered us all up. They put five on five up there and rushed them the whole day and sometimes six and probably 40 times yesterday and it came down to winning one-on-one matchups and you have to win your one-on-one matchup in that situation. Up front offensively, we didn't win some of those one-on-one matchups and that's my responsibility. A week ago, we won those one-on-one matchups and Derek had time, but we can't get the quarterback hit the way we got him hit yesterday."
Q: How would you assess Derek Carr's decision making overall?
Coach Sparano:"Here's what I thought, and Derek might tell you otherwise, here's what I thought. I thought early in the game Derek started out fine, from a decision making standpoint. I don't think his decisions were problems. In fact, I thought we had some drops yesterday, it wasn't just the line. I mean, the problem is when it comes to the quarterback and being comfortable, it's the line's job. It's everybody's job, but it's the line's job. I did think that in some of those situations there, we had some guys that were tagged on some individual routes and some things of that nature that needed to win. But, Derek made the right decisions early in the game. I think maybe, I think as the game went on there was one or two things that he wishes he would have had back and I think that some of those could have been aided by pressure, meaning all of a sudden there's pressure, 'I've got to get it out of my hand,' as opposed to, 'I have the luxury like I did a week ago of getting from one, to two, to three.' Another lesson learned. Our group up front, and when I say up front, that includes the tight ends, the backs, within the protection and those type of things there, is that when he's, when we can keep Derek comfortable back there and in those situations, just like any other team, it's going to make it really hard and we weren't able to do that yesterday."
Game action photos from the Raiders 31-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15 action.
Q: Do you think those are important lessons to be learned?**
Coach Sparano:"Yeah. I think they're huge lessons to be learned there. I think that pockets aren't always going to be clean, you're 100 percent right. When you play against a front like that, and the front that we had to play against the last couple two, three weeks in a row and this week, the pockets won't always be clean, they just won't. There's a reason why those guys have – one player has 16 or 17 sacks, that's not an accident. It certainly isn't an accident when you do it time and time again. These guys can rush a passer and the pockets won't always be clean, but at times when the pocket is not clean, we've got to be able to escape, extend and create a little bit and do some of those things too."
Q: With two games left, is it tough trying to focus on finishing strong when you don't know if you or the other coaches will be here next year?
Coach Sparano:"No, not for me. Listen, I am 100 percent a glass half full guy and I'm only worried about, honestly, I say this, I'm really worried about the Buffalo Bills right now. We just met with our players, got that game out of our system and we'll bounce back. I can only control things that I can control right now, so I can control what happens in our stadium this weekend and how our team approaches this football game this weekend."
Q: What type of team is Buffalo?
Coach Sparano:"One thing is, is that Buffalo, their defense is really playing well right now. I mean, they haven't given up more than 24 points I believe in a game the entire season right now. They're a tough team to score points on. That front is put together really well, that group is put together really well. It's going to be another great test that way and they have some explosive weapons and I think that Kyle [Orton] has done a good job that way, getting the ball around and doing some of those things to some of those guys. Sammy [Watkins] has been a heck of a player for them. But, they've got good weapons. I've played against Buffalo a lot of times. [Buffalo Bills Head Coach] Doug [Marrone] being there now, Doug's an outstanding coach and has done a good job with that team, but I've played Buffalo several times, so, I know some of the personnel there pretty good."
Q: It seemed like on some of Latavius Murray's more efficient runs he showed good patience. Is that something that you've seen?
Coach Sparano:"Yeah, I mean, to be honest with you, I thought, and I said this thing about the protection thing and those type of things, and it sounds like I'm coming down hard on the line. If the quarterback gets hit, that's our responsibility, I take that personally. That being said, we ran the ball well last night, given the opportunities, that wasn't the issue. We just didn't have enough opportunities, and I think we had 17 chances, I thought Latavius did a good job running the football. I thought he ran the ball hard, made a couple of good cuts. The one 28-yard play, Gabe Jackson had a tremendous block on that play. The line of scrimmage did a nice job, but Gabe made a good pull on that and Latavius got underneath it, it was a good read by him and then two plays later I think, he had another really good run and those guys blocked the back side of that really, really well. That again was, that was Gabe and Donald [Penn] and 'Wiz' [Stefen Wisniewski]. I thought they did a good job on the back side of that. There were some things there that were done really well, really efficiently in the run game yesterday. Probably one of our better efficiency days running the football. The problem was, once the game got into the three-score area, you just weren't sure how many more at-bats you were going to get and we had to pick the pace up so we went up-tempo there and tried to get a score in there and it turned into one of those kind of games. When you're doing that, playing against a front like that, you end up feeding their ego a little bit."
Q: Are you going to stick with Murray as the No. 1 running back for these final two games?
Coach Sparano:"I have no thought right now about changing that this week."
Q: There was a really critical roughing the passer call against Justin Tuck when it was 10-6, and then Antonio Smith had the offside penalty. How disconcerting is it to have veteran players making those mistakes, especially at critical points in the game like that?
Coach Sparano:"Listen – and I addressed the group about that today a little bit just in general – I think anytime you get into those kind of games where it's a close game, and it was a close game at that point in time, you're relying on your veteran leaders. You're relying on those people to be the catalyst to get you there. To be honest with you, in this change, this roller coaster that we've been on these past four or five weeks here of really, really great highs and not-so-good lows, those guys have been through the whole thing and they've been really good for me. Are you upset that the penalties take place? Absolutely, you're upset. It was addressed. The players know it. Those guys know it. They've been around enough times and played enough rounds in this league, fought enough rounds in this league to understand that's not something that can happen in those situations. I think what happens in some of those situations is – and I felt it a little bit last night – is you're starting to press. You're starting to press and try to make a play, and all of a sudden you're trying to get off a count quick or you're trying to do a little bit more. I think that that happens sometimes in those situations – to try to make a play that could change the game in some way. We've got to use better judgment in those situations."
Q: Was Marcel Reece hurt?
Q: Was there any particular reason why Reece did not get the ball?
Coach Sparano:"No, not really. We used Marcel in the game yesterday. Again, the game went more to an 11-personnel game as the game got on. But we used him early in the ball game. With our tight ends situation right now, we've had to use Marcel as a little bit of both. He is a fullback, but when [Jamize] Olawale can go in there and play fullback, we can use Marcel as the extended tight end and he can get involved in the pass game that way. We had him involved; we threw him a ball on the sideline there. We tried to do some of that stuff with him as well. It wasn't the kind of game – we weren't going to be able to turn around and hand him the football in that game. I thought Latavius was running the ball really well, so that wasn't – a couple weeks ago, we had lost Latavius and I felt like a big back against those guys was the right thing to do. That's why we went to Marcel at that point. In this ball game here, it just wasn't the same kind of game. Latavius was running the ball fine."
Q: Were you surprised at how much Kansas City threw the ball down the field, threw it over your head a little bit?
Coach Sparano:"I wasn't surprised that was part of their plan, to be honest. We prepared for the fact that they were going to take some shots down the field, but that's not what they had done prior to that. Prior to that, actually, their air time, if you will – the ball traveling from A to B – is one of the lowest in the league. That's not necessarily what they do, and in the beginning part of that game, that wasn't how they tried to play it. The way they tried to play it in the beginning part of that game is the way Miami played it and the way St. Louis played it – was to get the ball out of their hands fast, throw the screens. We said it during the week here: If they don't lead the league in screens, they've got to be in the top two and they must have thrown five screens in the first couple series of the game. They had a couple of holding penalties there on the perimeter there, and we made a play on one that we had a hold on one I think where we may have held the back on a screen. All of a sudden, the shot plays came. The one post play came – that was a shot play. They hit us on that, they hit us on a crosser and [Dwayne] Bowe caught one in the middle of the field. Then of course the big one, which wasn't really a shot play. It was a short play that ended up turning into a big play."
Q: On the punt return for a touchdown, were people out of position or did the guy just make a great run?
Coach Sparano:"On the punt play, obviously – first of all, he's a heck of a returner. We knew that going into the game. We said – I believe last week I said it in here – on paper that was something that we had to pay special attention to. But on that particular play, we had two guys get caught inside in that scenario – two guys that lost contain. We couldn't turn the ball back, the ball got down the sideline and once it got down the sideline, he had outflanked us."
Q: Do you anticipate Buffalo taking a lot of shots downfield? Is that something that they like to do?
Coach Sparano:"Yeah, I would think they're going to take their shots downfield. I think right now, a way to keep Khalil [Mack] and those people off your back – I think they think right now the way to do that is to get it out of our hand quick, put it in the skill players' hands. Let's see the Raiders tackle. Let's see them get to the ball and tackle and do those things, and we've got to do a good job of that. We've got to rep the heck out of it this week in getting off blocks and doing those things, but I'm sure there's going to come a point in time where they take their shots down the field, because it's something that they do do."
Q: You talked about screens … Why don't you screen more?
Coach Sparano:"We screen a good amount. What's funny is last year I remember going to the Combine and people coming up to us and talking to us about the fact that they watched our screens in the offseason. We were a very highly efficient team last year with screens. Yesterday in the game, we probably threw four or five screens in the game yesterday. One of them was a read-screen; we ended up throwing the ball to [Mychal] Rivera. There were three other screens that we did throw – two perimeter screens. I think one of them went out there to – I don't know if it was Kenbrell [Thompkins] or Vincent [Brown] – one of those guys came back inside with the ball on one of them. Then we tried two halfback screens yesterday, but they played them well."
Q: Does this loss feel different than the St. Louis loss? Both were one-sided games after following wins.
Coach Sparano:"Every loss feels the same to me, and I don't mean that in a 'that's what you're supposed to say' fashion. I take every loss personally. The losses, like I said, the losses in this league last a lot longer in this league than the wins do. The difference in this game here than in the St. Louis game is that it was 10-3 at halftime and 10-6 with 11 minutes left in the third quarter. St. Louis game was 35-0 at halftime. That's what makes this one a little bit harder to swallow. We were there at halftime. We talked about having these guys right where we want them, it's 10-3 and we've been in this position before. We've come back and won the game before, we need to be able to do this now. We need to be able to go out there and take care of the football game. Then, we go out and we get a turnover right away and have a chance to knock one in the end zone there and we settle for three. Then Oakland beat Oakland a little bit. That's the truth."
Q: Are there any updates on Sio Moore? Is he better with the rest?
Coach Sparano:"There was no real change in Sio today. No real change today. We'll see where that is and as far as any other injury information, I honestly have not met with the trainers yet with any other injury information. I know C.J. [Wilson] didn't finish the game yesterday."
Q: What about Rod Streater? Is today the day you have to activate him?
Coach Sparano:"I believe today is the day."
Q: So you're probably not going to activate him?
Coach Sparano:"Probably not."
Q: So he's basically done for the year? Sparano:"Yes."