Q: Just about Lamarr Houston, he was saying he was a little disappointed that the defense came up, in his words "flat" against Chicago. He was really disappointed and thought that wouldn't happen with this group, but it did, and now they have to work on it. What did you see?
Coach Tarver:I wouldn't say flat, but I would say we took turns, and what's nice about it is it's easily correctible. When you're playing in your first game like Lamarr was and some of the others, they were really good for about 10 plays and then there's that one where maybe they didn't knock somebody back hard enough or were just a little bit late when they came down to set the edge, which happened a lot. That was one of the things. What's nice about what happened is they're fixable mistakes and with emphasis and with practice together, we can continue to clean those up. That's one of the things we want to see in the preseason. We wanted to line up and play and be able to fix mistakes earlier, because the key in the NFL is if there's a certain scheme that gets you, everybody sees it, it's on film. They say it's a copycat league, which is completely true. If a certain route is getting you and you don't fix it, you're going to see it again and again and again – a lot of that we can eliminate earlier this year in 2013.
Q: [Head Coach] Dennis [Allen] has sort of mentioned that defensively the play calling has been purposely sort of bland. How much is kind of up the sleeve, kind of waiting to come out during the regular season and how encouraging is that it fits with the talent that you have?
Coach Tarver:I think the play calling was in a progression of what we want to do and the progression is just like the install progression. We're probably less than 50 percent in our progression of what we've shown. Some of these looks we'll continue to show, some of these looks are step one and hopefully we can go to step two and step three quickly, and quicker than we were able to even a year ago. It's in the progression of learning and that's why a lot of the things that happened are good that have happened. People learn, 'I have to get down here faster if I'm an edge setting DB. 'I have to move to the line of scrimmage earlier because it's a tighter split, that way this blocker can't get on me as fast.' Or 'I have to make sure that when I'm in this technique, I knock him back this direction instead of this direction because they got to my edge.' Setting the edge, one of the things we've been talking about this week. Install wise it's a progression, where we're going to go. We have a few more things, a few.
Q: Is that why [Matt] Forte had a couple big gains?
Coach Tarver:Yes, correct. We need to set the edge better. Now when I say that, that can be any defensive position. In each defense called, in your basic rules, whether they're running read scheme, whether they're running outside stretch with a 'G' play, that was the longest run that Forte had. The edge setter needs to force the ball back to the other players because all of your 10 friends are inside of you. OK, now they may not officially be their friends, but they're your teammates, so they're all inside of you. If you're the edge setter, you need to force the ball back and that was the main problem and then what happens next? If the ball does get outside of the force, what decisions are made after that? That's why you do the traditional defense pursuit drills and things like that because if the ball gets out, you have to cut him up from the sideline. We had two bad force angles and some of them were players in their first game, like we said, so that has been corrected because those young men have made an emphasis on it this week, and of course coaches did too, but mostly the young men making an emphasis. 'Hey the ball doesn't get outside of us.' We want to see how tough they are, not how fast they are, let's keep them inside and play from there.
Q: I mentioned to coach Allen that I think it's obvious that if you stop the other team, you're fine. If you don't stop the other team, they just keep running the ball and you never get it. It's a two-way thing. They're gaining yards and time on you and you get nothing out of it. In the last couple of years, even before you guys took over, the Raiders could not stop the other team. Is that a fair assessment?
Coach Tarver:One, the years past, I grew up a Raiders fan so I've been watching, but I sat in the Black Hole and I'll tell you one thing, that's one of the reasons why I took the job. One of the reasons I took the job is I know what that black jersey means and the nastiness that a Raiders defense traditionally has played with. If you picture the greats of the Raiders, they all have long arms and stuff hanging off them, and blood, right? And there are guys like Ted Hendricks with his arms a lot longer than … Double mine, setting edges. That's why I took it, because that's my image of the Raider defense. What's happened to us is this, last year we went through a progression and got better at the end of the year. Our last four games we played pretty darn good defense. OK I'm not going to throw a bunch of stats, that's boring. Where we're going now, we have to see some of the problems ahead of time and this is how we talk to the players. This is what great defense feels like; you've seen some of it from our young guys. Our young guys have come out and forced turnovers. I don't know if you saw the dance in the third quarter, I can't do that dance, but they went and took the ball away right? That's how you play defensive football. It comes from right here, and you have to want to knock somebody around. I'm answering the question a roundabout way; I'm answering the question like this, that's how you play defense. That's what we expect of the 2013 Raider defense. When we put the black jerseys on, it needs to be nasty, swarming, using our hands, finish the down unblocked and like you said, get the ball back for the offense. Let's see [Darren] McFadden run, not whoever's in the other jersey.
Q: Has DJ Hayden's progress since getting the red jersey off been everything you hoped for and do you expect to see him as a contributing member of the defense Week One?
Coach Tarver:I thought even on the first drive of the football game he went through a couple of hard times. Seventeen [Bears WR Alshon Jeffery] caught the ball and he was able to stay up, DJ slipped a little bit but he recovered to make the play. Then later, down towards the red zone we were in a man-to-man defense, he had a perfect break and knocked the ball out on 15 [WR Brandon Marshall]. That's the one of the things that you just asked me about, we had an opportunity for an interception on that play, on tips, and overthrows. We had been getting those. Omar [Gaither] made a great pick against the Saints on a tipped pass by Kurt [Taufa'asau]. That's what you have to get, you have to come up with those. Look at what the Houston Texans did last year, how many balls J.J. Watt batted and they got interceptions. I don't know, he's keeping all his stats with his 20/20/20 club, or whatever. But, those are the ones you have to come up with. DJ had a great break; he learned every time he got off of a block, even in that game, he learned how to do it. He does a good job of learning with what happens to him. The answer is yes, we're happy with his progression.
Q: What kind of test for you is Seattle with what they like to do on offense?
Coach Tarver:Seattle is a test because of one, going up there is a great place to play football, I love that atmosphere. I think that fan base and how they play is a good example. They play like what we were just talking about on defense; they're fun to watch. They run around and they hit, and they cover and they're nasty. That's a good environment. On offense, what they do, is they come out and they tempo you and I like what they do. They stress your edges in the run game so it's good practice to talk about what we just talked about, and they'll throw some vertical routes and their quarterback can make all those throws when he's moving around. The test is good, in that we'll get to see a fast paced offense get in and out of the huddle and let's see if we can get our calls in, and execute them and get it going.
Q: Dennis Allen said that among the areas that need the most improvement right now on this team is the defensive line. What have you seen from them as far as, do you think the personnel that you have, that you need is here now and do you feel like they're on the right track to making that improvement for the regular season?
Coach Tarver:OK, I'll start young guys forward. I think Christo Bilukidi, Jack Crawford and those guys, with all this experience, they've got going against other team's starters in the preseason, have gotten better. We need them to be able to play a certain number of snaps to be a consistent defensive line. The back end has started to progress. This is the first week our entire D-line has practiced so that's a good thing – we're excited about it. That's not an excuse, that's not anything, that's life in the NFL, and this week we've gotten better. We've gotten better even in just these little short practices. I think we're on the right track, how we have to work not only as the defensive line but as a defensive unit, is together. We may not have your household name yet, but there isn't any reason we can't create some by playing together and reaping the benefits of that. We have to understand our role and we have to work together both in the run- and pass-rush lanes and with the group together we should be able to do that. We have some guys that love football, and we have some intelligent football players, so we need to roll them in certain, specific situations for what their abilities are and we'll work on that. That's the scheme, that's the 50% or more that hasn't been shown yet.