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Sparano: "There's a fire lit in that locker room"


Opening Statement: **"Today was our first day out there, back off a bye, and guys were excited. A lot of enthusiasm out there, things happened fast out there for them and we had a good days work out there. It was good – the bye has helped us a little bit. We got a little bit healthy and had a chance to go back and examine ourselves over the bye, as coaches, and spend some time, some quality time this morning with the players, going through some of that, which we'll continue to do here this afternoon as well. We gained a little bit of time to do some homework on ourselves and help fix some of the things that are broke a little bit as we analyze ourselves."

Q: Any update on Nick Roach?

Coach Sparano:"No, Nick wasn't out there today and part of really what my philosophy is right now is if a guy is not practicing right now and can do something inside, we'll keep him inside, as we speak right now. Maybe see Marcel [Reece] out there at one point, those type of things, Khalif [Barnes]. We'll do some different things that way. So, they won't be out on the field, they'll be finding work in other places."

Q: What happened with Marcel Reece?

Coach Sparano:"Marcel came out of the game with a little bit of a strain. A strain, so I think he'll be fine. We'll see."

Q: When you did the self-scouting, what sort of things did you learn?

Coach Sparano:"One of the things, and it gets obviously swept aside here with where we are right now, there are some things that we've done well and our kids need to see that. They need to see the things they've done well. It's easy to point out the things they haven't done well, but we need to see some of the things that we have done well and why did we do them well. Example, I mean, we've had 21 opportunities down in the red area, right now we're the best team in the National Football League on defense in the red area. Well, that's 21 at-bats down there, that's a lot. We'd like to have 21 on the offensive side of the ball right now. So, that's something that has been done well. Some of the different types of runs that we've had in our offense, those type of things, we got the chance to really examine and show the kids what we've done well and what we haven't done well and why. They're starting to learn the why, whether it's been player driven, whether it's been scheme driven, meaning it could have been a coaching error, certainly, we're all not perfect that way, and whether or not it's something that our opponent did to us. We've examined all those things and as we're going through the film with them right now, they get a chance to see that and learn from it. That's really important right now as we go forward, because the things that we're not doing well we're just not going to continue to do. There's no sense in putting a square peg in a round hole right now. We won't do those things and we'll get on to some of the things we do well."


Q: Can you share your different philosophy now?**

Coach Sparano:"Well, and again, what I said last week is that I'm not Dennis [Allen] and Dennis is not me. It doesn't mean that my philosophy is any greater or any worse or any of those type of things. I came here and bought in to Dennis Allen's philosophy, hook line and sinker, and it was the right philosophy. I do things differently. My philosophy is different. One of the things that I believe is that you've got to look at reasons how Oakland is beating Oakland right now, never mind our opponents. You have to give respect to your opponent, no question about that, but we've got to look at how Oakland is beating Oakland. We're doing things faster, we've changed practice schedules, we've changed a ton of things right now. The locker room is changed right now, the practice schedules are changed. We're tapering things down for the players, so that the week tapers a little bit as you will find out, or maybe you already know. The practice time is different on Wednesday, a little bit more rest period prior to a big practice, to get more out of Wednesday's practice. The week will continuously taper down for the players so they have more gas in their tank when they get to the ball game, those type of things. We've added different periods to work on fundamentals, to work on fits, to work on some of the techniques that fly by in our league right now. Which is kind of why you watch what you watch and you see these 40-point lopsided games, one way or the other in some situations, is that teams kind of forget about those things. We need to get back to doing those things and putting an emphasis on those things. I think from our end, any time you come off a bye and you get a chance to examine yourself and you put a real emphasis on something, those things become important. It's no secret that my philosophy is to run the football, to keep games tight and try to be able to get yourself in a situation where you can win football games at the end of a game. I just showed the team a statistic, over the last five years, and it's staggering right now the number of wins and losses, and you can do your homework here, over the last five years that the Oakland Raiders have had, particularly the number of losses, that were one score or less. When you start to look at those type of things and you really examine them, one score, that can be a big difference in whether or not that mountain looks huge or it's just a hill."

Q: How much of what you're doing practice schedule wise comes from what you've done in other places and how much is new that you've worked on with the coaching staff here?

Coach Sparano:"It all comes from my experiences, my experiences in different places. It's interesting, I put a stat up to the team the other day, prior to them leaving, and it showed over the last five, ten years, teams that have been 0-4, teams that have been 0-5, that have finished 8-8, that have finished 11 and something, that have finished 9 and something, 9-7, whatever the case is, and have given themselves a chance. I have three people in the building right now that have been part of that turnaround, LaMarr Woodley most recently, last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers; Marcus Robertson, my secondary coach, Marcus has been part of that in Tennessee, actually twice; and myself, with the Washington Redskins and Marty Schottenheimer. So, when you have that kind of evidence and you can show some of those things to the players, and they take a look at that, everything is possible. It's all been part of my experiences and the things that I've done. This is how we've done this, because if you continuously go in there and do the same thing over and over and over again, as I said to you, that to me is not the appropriate definition for that."


Q: Was it beneficial to get a fresh set of eyes when you had Mike Holmgren come in and look at some tape?**

Coach Sparano:"Yeah, it was nice. It was good. Coach came in, Reggie [McKenzie] had him come in, had told me that he was going to bring him and have him watch some film and just take a look. It's all part of this self-analysis, looking at all of us. Reggie wanted to bounce some things off of him himself and I enjoyed getting a chance visiting with him and some of my coaches visited with him a little bit and he got a chance to watch some tape. It's just good to get a different set of eyes, another perspective, somebody that's been there before that's been part of these type of things."

Q: Derek Carr's injuries appear to be a non-factor …

Coach Sparano:"Yeah, I guess I wouldn't say non-factor right at this time, but obviously he worked. You've seen him out there today. We had him limited today, we don't need him to be full-go today, but he's been progressing nicely. We'll see where we are as we get going here during the week."

Q: Will Matt Schaub or Matt McGloin be your backup quarterback?

Coach Sparano:"That's one of the things that I won't give up. We'll keep that information to us, as we move forward here, and that's what we'll do. Both those guys got equal time today during the course of practice, which was good for us. It was good to get those guys reps today and they got equal time today."

Q: Will Greg Olson continue to call plays on offense?

Coach Sparano:"Yes, he will."

Q: What do you see Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden's role being going forward?

Coach Sparano:"Well, the job they've done so far, I mean, and again, is the evaluation fair, not fair, yeah the evaluation is fair. Obviously, Maurice didn't play in a couple ball games, so that's a little bit jaded, a little bit skewed. As far as Darren goes, and watching that, I've been pleased with the way Darren is running the ball right now, he's run the ball hard, he's made good reads, he's made good fits. One of the things we have to do a better job of right now is creating more explosive plays in that area. When I say explosive plays, explosive plays aren't defined to me by 20-yard runs at all. They're efficient plays. One of the things that not many people would realize, is we're one of the top teams in the league right now, in the National Football League, in not allowing or not having negative plays on offense; sacks, penalties, minus runs, those type of things, we don't have them. We're one of the best in the league. On the defensive side of the ball, we're actually one of the best in the league in forcing those type of situations, negative plays. So, those things are good and a big part of that obviously, stems from the fact that we haven't had, right now knock on wood, a lot of sacks. Derek [Carr] gets rid of the football, those guys have done a decent job of protecting him at this point, and we've limited our penalties. We've played a little bit smarter. We need to continue to do that, because that's all part of Oakland not beating Oakland."

Q: What did you learn from Bill Parcels that you carry with you now as a head coach?

Coach Sparano:"A lot of my philosophy comes through Bill. I've been fortunate in this business to work for three guys, well to work for a lot of guys, I don't know if that's ... Well I guess that's fortunate. Bill Parcels, Tom Coughlin, Marty Schottenheimer, these people, working for Rex [Ryan]. All these people have different philosophies and different styles, but Coach Parcels, obviously I've probably taken the most from Coach. I had a chance actually to visit with him in the last couple days, pick his brain a little bit too and that's a good resource for me, always has been and I think always will continue to be. So, that's been helpful for me, but part of Bill's philosophy was always, 'don't beat yourself.' You can't beat yourself, you've got to give yourself a chance to win the football game. That's something that we did in Dallas. When we walked into Dallas, that wasn't a perfect situation by any stretch of the imagination. Go back and look at it, look at where they were. Believe they were 3-13 prior to us walking in the door there, and that year we flipped that one, it was 10-6 and Quincy Carter, but we're talking about the Raiders right now and it's all part of this. Yeah, that's part of my philosophy. There are things that I take from every one of them, but there's also just things that I have a strong belief in, coming through this process and working for some of those people."

Q: How involved will you be with the defense?

Coach Sparano:"I'll be involved, no question about that. I've been involved in the last couple of days, been in there with the defensive staff, been in there with [defensive coordinator] Jason Tarver. I've met with every coach individually and shared my beliefs and what I like to see happen and pretty much what kind of direction that we want to head. I'll be involved. I'll know the game plan. I'll make my business to be in there, been in defensive meetings with the defensive players, and those type of things, and I've been in my meetings. I will be involved, but I have all faith and trust in the world in what's going on over there with J.T. [Tarver] and with the staff as far as that goes right now."


Q: In your bye-week evaluation, what can you find out that's wrong with the run defense?**

Coach Sparano:"One of the things is just simply, honestly, it's getting back to fundamentals again and I know that sounds silly, but it's the fact. What people are doing to us is they're spreading us out and they're running the football. You don't have to be a coach to see that, you can sit up there and watch it. They're spreading us out, they're running the football and that creates more air in the defense and some of our run-fits, the things that are necessary that way, fundamentals, tackles, getting people on the ground, getting off blocks, your alignments, those type of things, all come into play. This is part of this extra period that we placed in practice and being able to put emphasis on some of these fundamentals and to be able to work some of those things. The things that in a normal work week sometimes can fly by and you really got to get back to stressing these things. That's something that we're just going to do. We're going to get back to stressing them. It's something that Dennis, he did it in training camp. We did it, we stressed these things. It's part of me and my philosophy, going back and trying to get a little bit more of that right now."

Q: From what you saw the first four games, do you think you needed to light a fire under this team? Is that part of the issue at all?

Coach Sparano:"I think that right now there's a fire lit in that locker room. They see change. They know there's change right now and let's be completely honest, and I said this the other day and it didn't get written and I'm going to say it again, we were all part of the problem, every single one of us. Quite honestly, every single one of us in this building, we were all part of the problem. What happened, happened, but the players in that locker room and the coaches in this building right now and some of the different people that are directly related with football have to answer those questions. So no question about it and justifiably so. As far as lighting a fire, they're prideful people in that locker room. They've got a lot of pride and I'm proud of them with the way they came out there today and practiced. It's been a tough week for them, too. I realize they got away and that type of stuff, but it's been tough. There's been change. They weren't sure what to expect when they got back here and in some situations, still not too sure. I haven't let all my secrets out there with them yet. I kind of like keeping them, as I told them, a little uncomfortable sometimes. Comfortable is not good. Uncomfortable sometimes isn't a bad thing."

Q: Have you spoken to Charles Woodson or LaMarr Woodley, or any of the other guys, in terms of their veteran leadership on this club?

Coach Sparano:"I have spoken briefly to them and will continue to speak. It will be an ongoing process in the next couple days where I will continue to speak, and they know that. They know it's coming. They know that at some point – and I told them that today in the meeting, 'I've reached out to some of you. Some of you guys I haven't reached out to yet, but I will.' And I'll continue to push them, because their experiences are important. I mean, Woodley's experience in that situation in Pittsburgh is important. He's been through it, he's seen it, he's lived it. Charles' experiences in this league are important. That's why you bring those players into your team, is to share this with some of the younger guys at times, or some of the veteran players that maybe don't see light at the end of the tunnel right away. This is all about being new right now. We put four games behind us today and we're not going to look back at those four games right now. Once we're done with this self-analysis here, we are looking ahead at 12 football games. We are not looking behind."

Q: To go back to Nick Roach, was there a setback or is he still going through the protocol?

Coach Sparano: "No, no setback right this second. No."

Q: You said Reece had a strain, but a strained what?

Coach Sparano: "I guess I don't have to tell you that until Wednesday. How's that?" (laughing)

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