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Quick Hits with McKenzie and Allen


McKenzie: I want to say good evening and hello to all the season ticket holders. Yes it has been a pretty busy offseason for us. So we're looking forward to this season and the rest of these OTAs [Organized Team Activities] and the mini-camp and you know there's some excitement around here. A lot of new faces but we're excited and we hope the fans are just excited.

Coach Allen: It's good to be here and get an opportunity to visit with Raider Nation. It's always a fun time for us to be able to do this conference call. I'm extremely excited about this season. I sent a letter or an e-mail out to the season ticket members, I guess it was probably about two weeks ago, just expressing my excitement for what we've been able to accomplish over the offseason and where we believe and where I know that this team is headed. And we're headed in the right direction. I've got a great feel for what we've been able to put together and what Reggie's been able to put together as a football team. And not only myself, but the whole coaching staff as well as the players, have been very excited about getting to work. We got a lot of work to do and a long way to go but we like where we starting from.

On bringing in veteran leaders:

Coach Allen: Well, I think there's no question that we had an agenda and we had a goal set out that we wanted to try and bring in some veteran leaders into the locker room, not just any veteran leaders, but veteran leaders that can still play this game, play this game at a high level, as well as guys that really understand what it takes to win in this league and what it takes to win championships. And really to be honest with you, I love what LaMarr Woodley said the other day in the media, and he got a little flak from some people about saying that, that the Raiders are a playoff-caliber team. But he said the other day that he stands behind that because that's what your goals and aspirations should always be in the National Football League. You ought to be playing for a championship. And we feel like we brought guys in that understand that, that know exactly what the vision is for this organization and where we need to get to. And they're committed to doing everything it takes to get there. So again, I'm excited about it. I think when you combine those veterans with some of the young players that we've been able to acquire not only in this draft but in the previous draft, I think we have a nucleus of building a really solid football team.

On CB DJ Hayden and depth at the cornerback position:

Coach Allen: We feel good about where we're at the cornerback position. It was an area that we felt like we needed to try to improve and so in doing that we were able to go across the bay and pick up Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown who I think has been great additions to our football team. Both of those I would expect to have significant playing time. And then we were able to go out in the draft and pick up a couple of young players that I really think have a chance to help us. And that's what you want to do and how you want to build your football team is you want to be able to get a solid foundation and then be able to add some young pieces around it so that you can continue to have success year in and year out. And I'm really excited about those acquisitions and what we've been able to do in the back end of our defense. And really to kind of emphasize the point that you made earlier, we are excited about this football team. We're excited about working for this organization. We're excited about getting this organization back to the prominence that it deserves and quite frankly that Raider Nation deserves. So it's an exciting process that we're in and really we can't wait for the season to get started.

On competition at running back with Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden:

Coach Allen: Yeah well I think we always try to have an environment of competition and a healthy environment of competition where guys are competing against each other but yet their competing against each other within the team concept. And I think it's a great problem to have when you have guys that you feel like are deserving of a starting role. I think we've all seen, and it happens every year, injuries happen so the more depth that you can have at each particular position, the better you're going to be able to withstand the rigorous of an NFL season. So again we feel very confident and very good about the running back room that we have. We think we have two very good veteran players but we also think that there's some young players that have a chance to really help us too. So again the thing that we've been able to do this offseason through free agency and through the draft is not only that we've been able to get some frontline players that we think are starters for us that can compete at a high level in the National Football League but we feel like we've got some depth that's going to help us to withstand some of the some of the injury things that you have to deal with on a week in and week out basis in the NFL.

On veteran QB Matt Schaub:

Coach Allen: I was with Atlanta when we drafted Matt Schaub in the third round and I was always very impressed with him when I was there. Of course he was a young player at that particular time but he was always a very smart player and he was always a very accurate passer. And when you look over his career and you can look at all the statistics, he's been a top 10 quarterback over the last five years. And I think any of the 32 teams in the National Football League, if you said you had an opportunity to get a top 10 quarterback, they would jump on it. So you know we feel great about that. I think there are some quality receivers for him to throw the ball to and really some young guys that we expect to be able to kind of take that next step. And one of the reasons why we brought James Jones in was to help those young guys understand what they need to do to be able to reach that next step. So I think it's a good room and I think, again, we've got a good quarterback room.

On playmakers on the defensive line:

Coach Allen: I think that was an area that we wanted to address and I think we did that in a big way. I think when you add guys like Justin Tuck and you add in Antonio Smith and you add in LaMarr Woodley and couple that with some guys that we had on the roster in Pat Sims and Stacy McGee, a couple of young players, and then you're able to add some guys through the draft… A guy like Khalil Mack is going to be kind of a hybrid type player, he's going to be a linebacker, he's going to be able to put his hand on the ground in third down and be able to get after the passer. And we all know that, and I've said this a million times, playing defensive football, it's all about the quarterback and affecting the quarterback and you do that with rush and coverage and I think we've done a great job of being able to put some pieces together that's going to allow us to be able to get after the passer this year and we're excited about that.   

On Justin Tuck:

McKenzie: Well first of all, he was brought here because he has some good play still left in his tank and we feel good that he's going to really help us on the field this year but he's also a leader, just a natural leader. And he's going to help this defensive team excel. He has a great knowledge of the game and he's a physical specimen, he does all the right things that to make sure he's prepared, he's a real pro. So for us to be able to add a guy like that, it's a huge plus for us.

On coming together as a team during the offseason:

Coach Allen: Well I think that's the tricky part of this whole thing is taking up a new group with so much change and trying to mold them into a team that's got one vision and one direction. And we talk a lot about the type of players that we want and the type of team that we want to be. We want to be a smart, tough, physical, passionate football team. And I think we've been able to acquire that. One of the things that we did is we brought in guys that have been a part of winning teams and championship teams and they understand what it takes to win in the National Football League. And most of the games in the NFL are coming down to one score. So it's the ability to execute your assignments at the critical moments of the game and understand how to execute the call whether be on offense, defense, special teams, based on the situation in the game. And I think we've got a great mix of veteran leadership, guys that understand what it takes, as well as some young guys that have a lot of ability and a lot of talent that are going to be the focal points and the cornerstones for our organization as we move forward.  

On what it means to them to be a Raider:

McKenzie: I came into this league as a 22-year-old as a Raider, so my first experience was getting drafted here to the Raiders. So I know from a player experience what it's like and it's like none other. I've had the opportunity to be around four different teams and it's nothing like being a Raider. So from the history, from the fan base, from the city, the organization, the alumni, the Hall of Famers here, it's a family. And that's not ever going to change. I love being a Raider and for me to be back here, it was a dream for me because, like I said, when I took this job, it was coming home for me. Being a part of Raiders is being part of family.

Coach Allen: First of all, I'll say it's a privilege and an honor to work for such a great organization with the history and the tradition of the Oakland Raiders, the Commitment to Excellence. This fan base is second to none, not only in the National Football League, but in all the sports. And it is a family. It always has been a family and it always will be a family. To be a part of this history and to be able to walk these halls and see a Hall of Famer in the building in Willie Brown and get an opportunity to see him every day...To see the Super Bowl trophies, to see the photos on the wall of all the Hall of Famers, there's nothing better than to be a part of something with such a rich tradition and a rich history. I'm looking forward to and I'm excited about being a part of bringing this, bringing this organization back, bringing this team back to the prominence that it deserves. 

On improving player conditioning and stamina:

Coach Allen: Well that's been a big point emphasis this off-season. I think the first thing you look at is your offseason conditioning program and what you're doing in the offseason conditioning program and we've done a few things from the inclusion of using heart monitors just to monitor the volume of work that our guys are going to be doing we're going to continue that in training camp. And then the other thing that we're looking at that I think is going to help us is I think that we've gotten a lot of depth so now we can begin to rotate players and use the whole 46 man game day roster and all 46 players be able to be an active part in helping us win football games. And so therefore we'll be fresher in the 4th quarter of games but we'll also be fresher in the 4th quarter of the season as we get to the end of the season and we'll be able to sustain and be able to win games in the second half of the season.

Closing comments:

McKenzie: To the Raider Nation - we appreciate your support. We will be a better team this year, no doubt. We're looking so very forward for this season. Our players are excited, I can feel the excitement from the fans, the media actually, and everybody in this building. We're excited to get this thing started, doing training camps and we'll looking forward for this season. I just ask that all of the Raider Nation to show up on Sundays and be ready to go and take this season by storm.

Coach Allen: Yeah, well first of all I'd like to say thanks to the Raider Nation for taking part in this event. I think it's something that we look forward to, having an opportunity to sit down and visit with this great fan base. I hope all of you can feel the excitement that we have for this organization, for this football team in what we are going to be able to accomplish. There's a lot of great things in store for the Oakland Raiders and it starts this year in the 2014 season. So hopefully you'll all come out and watch us play and I promise you we'll give you a product on the field that you'll be excited and proud to watch. 

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