Coach Sparano's Final Thoughts on Buffalo


Opening Statement: **"Injuries, today: Tarell Brown did not practice – he's out; Vincent Brown did not practice today with a groin – he's out; Derek Carr was full today – he's probable; TJ Carrie was full today – he's probable; Chimdi Chekwa did not practice – he's out; Brian Leonhardt did not practice – he's out; Denarius Moore did not practice – he's out; Menelik Watson did not practice – he's out; C.J. Wilson was full today – he's questionable; and DJ Hayden was limited today – he's questionable."

Q: When did DJ Hayden get hurt? Was it in practice?

Coach Sparano:"Yeah, just a little tweak. I think he'll be fine."

Q: Tarell Brown just did not make the progress you had hoped?

Coach Sparano:"No, [he] did not."

Q: You would go DJ, assuming he can play, with TJ Carrie, but after that?

Coach Sparano:"We'll see. You want me to tell them everything right now? (laughing) I've told them enough."

Q: Tarell Brown has been such a fighter when it comes to playing through injuries. It must have been difficult for you and for him to not be able to go.

Coach Sparano:"There's no question about it. He's been one of the toughest competitors that we have right now. He's grinded through some things, but this one here we just couldn't get back in time."

Q: Unless he hits eight field-goal attempts over the last couple of games, Sebastian Janikowski is going to set a franchise record for fewest attempts in a season. Is that almost a bittersweet statistic because the red zone offense has been so effective?

Coach Sparano:"Yeah, I think … Listen, I've been accused of a lot of things before. Kicking field goals is one of them at times. But they are all necessary, no question about it. We've just been efficient down there in scoring touchdowns. We've been able to score touchdowns when we got down there. It's kind of interesting, you look at our red zone offense right now and what we've done down there, and that's been really efficient. And again, a stat that you're not proud of, but in fact we talked about this yesterday with Derek Carr's progress, is that we're the best team in the league in two-minute offense. Well, the four teams behind us in two-minute offense are all playoff teams right now. It's important to be good in those phases – red zone, two-minute, those types of things. It's just been a scenario where we haven't had to kick field goals, I guess which is a good thing. I would imagine 'Seabass' [Janikowski] would say that's a good thing, too. When we need one, he's there and I know that we can count on him."

Q: You've talked about the Buffalo Bills' defensive line, but how does Mario Williams specifically cause trouble.

Coach Sparano: "Well, a lot: he's big; he's long; he's fast; and he's got a really good skillset for that position and temperament for that position. The guy has always played hard. I've always had a really high opinion of Mario because of the way the guy has played. Those kind of guys I like watching and I like competing against. He's a guy that can ruin a game, and I've been in some situations where he has ruined the game. You've got to pay attention to him, but as we said before, they have two or three of those guys. So we've got to be really conscious of what's going on there up front. I know they're proud of their front and I'm proud of mine."

Q: You mentioned the other day that you were part of the group that went back to watch Sammy Watkins in the draft process. Was that his pro day?

Coach Sparano:"No, it was a final stacking phase of the draft process. So when you go through the draft process and you've kind of talked about the players with the scouts and those type of things, the final stacking phase [is] where you put them up and kind of rank them and do those things. There's some extra film watch there in the final stack, and that was a scenario where [General Manager] Reggie [McKenzie] had the coordinators and myself in the room, obviously being involved in those things for several years myself. So I was able to bring a little different perspective into the room."

Q: So you didn't go back and see him in person?

Coach Sparano:"I didn't see him personally, no. It was just off of film, but you didn't have to see much personally when you watch the film."

Q: You mentioned about wanting to finish strong at home in front of the home fans. I don't know if this is something too political for you to deal with, but have you thought at all that this could be the last game the Raiders will play in this stadium?

Coach Sparano:"You know, I have given some thought to that. It's not something I've really spent a lot of time talking to the team about, but I know the team knows and they're aware of it; we've touched on it briefly. But at the end of the whole thing, we don't know. That's not something for me, obviously. Those are questions far above me, but we're well aware of it. The biggest thing for us is that we have an opportunity here to win the third game in a row at home and really kind of give our fans something to think about here during the offseason here, something to be proud of in winning that third game in front of them and beating another good team. We're looking forward to the challenge this weekend and can't wait to get it going."

Q: It had been a while since the Raiders had beaten a team with a winning record. This would be three in a row at home against winning teams. Do you think that is significant?

Coach Sparano:"I think it is significant. I think that anytime you're beating teams like that – with winning records – it's telling you where your progress is. It's funny, after the Kansas City game, I heard a little bit about, 'Oh, it was a short week,' and that type of thing after we play Kansas City and they beat us, talking about the time that we beat them. It was a short week for us, too, and we won that football game against a good team. And then we came back and beat a San Francisco team who had 10 days to prepare for us, so we had the short week at that point. We weren't worried about that then either. Our team has done a good job of stepping up and winning some of those games against good teams, competitive teams, good teams – teams that will go long and have a chance to go on into the postseason. This is another one of those teams, so we're looking forward to it."

Q: Is the pot sweeter knowing that by winning the game, you could all but end the Bills' hopes of making the playoffs?

Coach Sparano:"You know, at this point right now, we're really just focusing on us. But we certainly aren't interested in letting anybody have the kind of success that they might want to have one way or the other on our watch. That's just the competitive nature in everybody. All these games for us are important. This happens to be the next game and it is our last game at home. Buffalo's a good team. They've well coached. [Bills Head Coach] Doug [Marrone]'s done a great job with that team and they've done a great job with their roster. We're going to get a chance to play against them here on Sunday and it should be a good contest. We're looking forward to it."

Q: Is this a different type of challenge for your offensive tackles because of the nature of the pass rush or the scheme, different body types or styles? Or is it really the same thing?

Coach Sparano:"No, it's kind of the same thing. I think that obviously, Mario might be a little bigger rusher than a couple of the guys. But he's not much – Aldon Smith's a big guy, and Tamba [Hali]'s a big guy and that type of thing there, and [Jerry] Hughes. Those guys are all good-sized guys, but Hughes, [Justin] Houston – similar-type body types. I think from our end, it's a little bit more – we have not had really played a lot against these types of fronts. I don't mean the personnel, I just mean we've been playing more 3-4 teams that will play some 4-3, as opposed to some 4-3 teams, and this is a 4-3 team. So those two big defensive tackles that they have in there – everybody kind of talks about the other two guys when in reality [Marcell] Dareus and Williams are two guys – again, I've already spoken about Williams. Those two guys can cause some trouble in there." 

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