Q: Were some of Derek Carr's passes ones that you would pull him aside and tell him he should never attempt?
Coach Sparano:"No, not ever. I wouldn't say that. I mean, I would say that a couple of the plays in the first half of that game, I'm sure Derek [Carr] is going to tell you here that he wishes he had those plays back, but I wouldn't say never, no. I don't want him not to be aggressive with the football. Both of those situations, one could borderline be a little bit of a force issue where he's trying to fit a ball in there and there's nothing wrong with that, trying to fit a ball in there. We've just got to throw with more accuracy, make a better location throw. And then the other was a communication issue and Derek I think would tell you that that was pretty much on him in that situation. He's learning from it, he sees it on film and I think he knows the answer to that question right now. But, that being said, I don't want him to lose his aggressiveness at all. I want him to continue to throw at those people. There are a lot of good corners in our league, good players in our League and we can't shy away from every one of them. We've got to take our chances when they're out there. The interesting thing, and I'll give you – but, in the first half of that game, when we broke the numbers down and off the top of my head right now, I'm going to say Derek was like 11 of whatever, 17 maybe in the first half, or whatever it was, with two interceptions. In the second half of the game, which was a good sign of a young quarterback, he comes back and he's like, maybe 14-of-19 and two touchdowns. So, that was a good sign. I've seen that go the other way, badly, in my time with young quarterbacks, so that gives you a little more answer to your question I guess."
Q: What can you do to fix the run game right now?
Coach Sparano:"Block better. We've got to block better at the point of attack. Bottom line is yesterday that team just beat us at the point of attack, so got to give them credit. They beat us at the point of attack, a hard thing for me to say, but they did. You're watching the game, you'll see it on the film. The green jerseys were, they were in our backfield and that means you're losing, you're not winning the battle at the point of attack. They did a good job of attempting to single us up in some situations where we knew that was, that wasn't an issue, we had planned for that during the week, but they got off faster than we got off in some of those scenarios. Again, we came out in the second half, we had two efficient runs back-to-back, the toss to Darren [McFadden] and then a ball to Marcel [Reece] that came out there and he made a good run on and the guys blocked it really well, but we just weren't able to string together consecutive plays like that. I mean, really, that was the only time in the game where we had two back-to-back efficient plays that way, so I've got to do a better job of it with the line, but everybody's kind of got a hand in it right now, but we got beat at the point of attack yesterday. The first time that I could say that this season."
Q: Did Gabe Jackson suffer an injury?
Coach Sparano:"Yeah, Gabe [Jackson] left the game and he was injured. He actually played one more play and then came out of the game. So, we'll see where it is, right now we're still gathering some information. He's in the meeting room right now, but we'll see where that is."
Q: What's the nature of his injury?
Coach Sparano:"Nice try (laughing)."
Q: Is the 0-4 since you took over different than the 0-4 that started the season?
Coach Sparano:"I don't know, I guess you guys have to answer that. I know how it's different. I see how it's different right now, but I'm not into 0-4 before or any of those things, I'm just looking at where we are right now. I think this team right now – the few things that I think are happening right now, is I think that in situations where an error occurs or a penalty occurs or something to that effect happens, I think our guys response to that has been better. I think their response has been much better, and what I mean by that is the next play it doesn't bleed over, we can stop the bleeding a little bit easier. The other thing I think is, I think the effort right now out there has been tremendous, I really do. There are not many plays in that game that I can turn on that I can watch and think that, 'Hey, there's a lack of effort here. This guy is not playing hard on this play.' That wasn't the case either. I think in several areas on the defensive side of the ball, we're improving right now. I thought in some special teams areas yesterday we improved. We had one special teams play that wasn't very good, it was a result of obviously a big punt and then a return on their end, but that was a big return. But, we changed the game a little bit in that phase, which we needed to do, and that kind of gave us some life. I think that from a protection standpoint right now, the guys are protecting the passer much better at this particular time. He did get hit a little bit much for my liking yesterday, he got hit four or five times in the game. Now, we hit those guys 12 times, and hitting that quarterback 12 times is hard to do. So, I think we're getting around the quarterback better, protecting the quarterback better. I think there's a lot of areas of improvement right now. I think you've seen a lot of young players that are contributing to a lot of those factors too, and that's been a good sign too. So, but it's still 0-4."
Q: What did you see from Mychal Rivera yesterday and how is he progressing?**
Coach Sparano:"Well, I mean I think the last two games now, I don't know the exact number, probably got 15 catches or 14 catches in the last two games and a couple touchdowns. It wasn't too long ago where you guys were sitting in the room and you were saying to me, 'What about Mychal Rivera?' And I just told you that those things happen, it's going to come. Be patient. And it's happening. Mychal is contributing a lot. He's done a nice job that way. He made two great catches yesterday, they were really hard catches that he made and that's in a contested environment which I thought was really good to see. We need that out of Mychal. Quite honestly, I think once that stuff starts to happen, all of a sudden the things out in the perimeter become a little easier, when you find the tight end that they have to pay attention to. So, that was good to see. It was good to see Darren [McFadden] catch a ball in the under areas of the field, Maurice [Jones-Drew] catch the ball in the under areas of the field yesterday and turn those into some bigger plays. Mychal is improving. He's getting better and better. He needs to keep working fundamentally, as well all do. Right now, I think that's probably the biggest area that we need to continue to improve on right now, is our fundamentals, because our effort is great, it's just continuing to work on the how."
Q: Is it unusual for the offensive line to be better at pass-blocking than run-blocking?
Coach Sparano:"Yeah, it is. The groups I've been around, we've been able to protect the passer, but we've been more efficient – I don't want to say more efficient, that's a bad word, because it's not true right now. Again, the efficiency thing – this game we had five minus runs. This is the first time – we're probably – not probably, I would say up to last week, we were in the top two in the League in minus plays, best, as a team. That's one area that we've done a great job in, but in this game, there were five minus runs in this game. Again, you've got to give those guys credit, but that's not something that I'm used to and partly because, again, I think that the number of attempts. I'm just not used to that, the number of attempts being what they are right now. We put ourselves there. You're down on the road, in that kind of situation, and we put ourselves in that position a little bit on several occasions. Normally, I'm more used to being in the 30 range, somewhere around there, and I think that produces better numbers. Right now, what you're doing is, you're running one play and then you're going to the next run, that maybe you had in your game plan or your script, or whatever it is, and by the time you get around to running that one play again, you're almost out of bullets, meaning we had 16 runs in the game yesterday and I think we had 62 gradable plays. We carried maybe 17 runs in the game, different runs, going into the game, which is a low number for us. We've cut back on that number just because of the volume. So, that's something that we did during the bye week. It started out being good, but as of late, we haven't done a good enough job, I haven't done a good enough job."
Q: Marshawn Lynch's first touchdown run…
Coach Sparano:"Well, we had two guys at the point, two guys right at the point that hit him. He's a big, strong runner and then they got behind it and then all of a sudden it became a little bit of a rugby scrimmage out there and they kind of heaved him into the end zone, and he's a low center of gravity, strong guy. We were up a little bit high and he pushed the pile and got himself into the end zone. I said after the game last night, I've been on the end of that same run a couple of times, by the same player. It's not anything new to me, I've seen it before. He's just a powerful guy that has a low center of gravity and it's hard to tackle. You've got to make sure you get down around his legs to tackle him, and wrap tackle him, and I think we were up a little high in close quarters like that and all of a sudden you had a bunch of linemen from the back pushing too, and that worked out obviously in their favor."
Q: Disappointed not to have more guys rally to that?
Coach Sparano:"We had some guys there. I'll be honest with you, I thought yesterday our defense flew around pretty good. We had a lot of hats to the football in a lot of situations yesterday. Where we got hurt yesterday a couple different times, we had deals where we let the quarterback out of there. We lost contain on a few different deals and he got out and did what he does, either extended the play or made a play down the field. Several times, we plastered him pretty good. We covered him pretty good down the field and he had to run it, a six-yard gain here or there. There was one or two times where he took off down the field and made a couple big chunk plays that hurt us."
Q: Last week you kind of danced around the topic of holds on Khalil Mack. Do you guys send film to the league about some of those plays?
Coach Sparano:"Yes. We do. We'll send probably… there's a number that you can send to the league. I won't get into all that. We send them. To be honest with you, the school I'm from, you don't do it. That's the school I'm from. I do it because I want to be able to coach the players on the foul. We wait, usually a response comes back a little later in the week, and then we can coach players on that particular situation. That's what we do. Khalil had some good rushes yesterday. He flew around pretty good. I would say that Khalil would tell you that he flew around good, but for him, a good game, not a great game. But, he flew around good."
Q: You've had some other younger players, aside from the draft class, and some late additions to the team make some contributions in recent weeks. Benson Mayowa, Denico Autry … Can you talk about those guys?**
Coach Sparano:"Good question. I said this last night to a couple different people, when you're 0-8, there is not a lot to be proud of. If you're a fan sitting out there looking at it, I understand that. This business is about wins. But, when I look at the young players like Benson or Autry, or like Mychal Rivera or Derek Carr or, the list goes on and on, TJ [Carrie], DJ [Hayden], these types of players, Gabe Jackson. You're seeing a lot of young players that are going to be the corps of this football team for a long time that are really getting involved and contributing an awful lot and having to play an awful lot. We've been in a situation now where, in the last couple weeks, nobody cares about this and no one is going to cry over it because everyone suffers injuries, but where different guys have had to step up. Even yesterday, [Larry] Asante had to be called into duty and do some extra jobs. I thought Brandian Ross did a nice job in the game. A lot of young players are playing a lot of plays right now. Autry goes in there yesterday and changes the game. This is your job, we need you to do this. You might play on defense, but on special teams, this is how you can factor in. Then the guy goes in and does exactly what we've asked him to do. He blocks the kick and Brice [Butler] recovers it. Then all of a sudden, it's that one play that starts the storm. Unfortunately, we needed the storm to start a little bit earlier in that. It was forced by a young player at that time. Our veterans have been really good about helping these young players along. We've got great veterans that way. There's some young kids there to be proud of."
Q: DJ Hayden got hit with the penalties. Were they warranted and what do you say to him about those?
Coach Sparano:"Warranted, I won't get in to. The unsportsmanlike penalty on the sideline, completely understand why he called it. What I told him on the sideline is, 'Listen, I like the way you compete.' On that play, he made a really good hit. He made a really good break on the football and a really good hit. It was one of those things that on a three-yard catch, the guy knew he was there. That part of it, I don't want to not applaud. I want DJ to know and understand that on that play, I applaud that, but the other part of it we can't do. That's Oakland beating Oakland. That can't happen. I made that perfectly clear to him. These are the things that I'm pointing out during the week, every day in practice here we have officials and we get reports now. These reports I'll put up on the board and the kids will see their penalties over the course of the week. I'm making an emphasis on this, which is something that I think is important for us as we get down the road. All those things are eating yards. That penalty, for example, was a 19-yard play. Earlier in the game, it was a 36-yard play. Those types of penalties, whether they are penalties or not, that particular one I understand why it was called. DJ and I had a conversation about it and we were on the same page there."