Q: What did you determine from the self-scouting period that Coach Sparano has been talking about?**
Coach Tarver:"We looked at everything we do in every situation and over the past two games, there's some things we've improved on. But what we need to do is understand situational football, how to win in first and second downs, how to improve there to make sure we're communicating and doing what we need to do on third down – rushing, coverage, working together – and continue to do some of the things we've done well – red zone defense, top-down coverage, those things. So what we've done is place an emphasis on learning how to play as a team in those areas, making sure, like you hear Coach say, Oakland doesn't beat Oakland. That's what we need to improve on as a defense." Q: Dennis Allen probably had more of a hand in the defense than Tony will. How much will it change now going forward?
Coach Tarver:"Well, we're game planning and we looked at what we do well and what we don't do quite so well, so we're making decisions based on that. So, that's the answer, we're making decisions based on that. We're going to continue to do what we do well with the players that we have and continue to look at ways to get them one-on-one matchups. We've started to win a few more of those one-on-one's, especially in the New England game, so that's what we're looking for. We need knock-back play out of our front and our linebackers to read their keys and fit where they're supposed to fit. We need to continue our top-down play in the secondary and we need to challenge and make sure we understand leverage in certain situations. So that's where we want to go."
Q: Khalil Mack hasn't recorded his first career sack yet and yesterday he said how hungry he was to do so. How close do you think that he is?
Coach Tarver:"He looks bigger and stronger every week, so I think he's eating pretty good on the hungry part (laughing), but how close is he? He's in the backfield a lot. He's using his hands. We looked at a couple things in the bye week and we made him a little clip of when he's doing things very fast and then times where he may not be quite as fast to start downs or reactionary. So these two days, he's really conscious of that and he's been putting that into effect. He's looked explosiveness for these past two days at practice. So long as he continues to be back there and keep working, there will be those opportunities. We like what he's doing. He does affect the offense. They need to know where he is and we want that to continue."
Q: If you're going to accentuate the things that you've done well, is it fair to say you'll be doing less than before and just working on the things you do better?
Coach Tarver:"I would say this: Anytime you have change of personnel, and we have had change of personnel – and the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint -- obviously with the one defensive position this week – I know Tony's answered a bunch of questions while he was up here – we've had a lot of change. Now that creates opportunity, so with that and players in these positions, we need to look at what they've done well and then make sure we're in that, and then have a slight tweak off of what that is to deal with the offense. So will we do less? We'll do what we need to do with our current personnel to effect the offense to the best of our ability. So we'll still have a mix of coverage and things like that, but we'll make sure that we can get the guys in one-on-one's that they need to win, and then of course it's their job to win."
Q: What happened on the plays where Miami had a bunch of receivers bunched together and there were only one or two of your guys? How do you fix that going forward?
Coach Tarver:"We fixed that at halftime. If you noticed, in the second half, they tried the same play three times and every one of those did not work. So I like that the guys came to us, we had a good talk, and we said, 'Hey, look, we fix this right here, guys, and we're fine.' And that's what happened in the second half. In the second half, they drove the first drive. There were some fits that we've cleaned up – that was a lot in the bye week. They got down, we caused a fumble, so we stopped them. We need to do a little better on that second goal-line run, the only touchdown they got in the second half on the defense, and then from then on, we played it better. So we already made those adjustments, is the answer to the question."
Q: Coach Sparano said the other day that it's simple why the Raiders are getting run on: They are spreading you out and then they are running on you when you're spread out. So what are the keys to shoring that up when they spread you out?
Coach Tarver:"Some is the change of personnel and again, the same thing, that's what we've been emphasizing, is when you get a one-on-one you need to win. The edges need to be set tighter. Whatever direction they're running, we need to set them tighter. We've completely changed [from] when we got here how the Raiders played run defense and then we had a little bit of a setback in the beginning, and then you started to see it right against New England and then the first half against Miami, they created some space. So first is the edge setting, second is the gap fits. We need to be where we're supposed to be, period. And then, it's about playing defensive football and playing the run game. It's what you hear from me all the time. It's once you're in your spot, knock them back, get off the block and make the play. There isn't as much thought in that as there is using your ability to get extension in your hands, get off the block and make the play. So that's what we need to improve on. We've shown flashes of it and we need that all the time. We need to turn – it can't be second-and-four all the time. We let two runs out. Other than that, it's the – we need to get the five's down to two, which we have done here and is on the film. So we need that more consistently. So edge setting, being where we're supposed to be and getting off of blocks."
Q: Is it disappointing that you guys had a setback? Obviously you played better against New England. Were you surprised, or what was your reaction when the first half against Miami was going on?
Coach Tarver:"Well, one is we've had a bye week and [San Francisco Chronicle reporter] Vic [Tafur], we've buried that one. Literally and figuratively, we buried that stuff. We have a 12-game season and it starts this week with a home game. I'll tell you one thing just like you guys have heard from Coach Tony, is what we control is now, period, and as a defense, we needed to learn from that stuff, but it's not what we're looking at. We're looking at the Chargers and what they can do and this week's game, and it's about it. So we learn from it and we put it away. So when you ask was I disappointed, our job as a coach is to fix it, not just yell about it and get mad – it's to fix it. We went in and fixed it, and then we fixed it some more, and there's going to be a little leak and then we're going to fix it. That's what's great about this profession and this game, is you get an opportunity to do that. That's what our job is. The players' job is the best job. They get to go make plays. Our job is pretty cool, we get to help them make plays and fix things. So that's what we're in the process of doing. Sometimes it goes way down and you've got to go, 'Holy- Guys! Really?' Then you pick them back up and that's what we've been doing. Regardless of the flow of personnel, hey, man, we're fixers. That's why we got into this stuff, to solve problems, and you guys have obviously heard that from me before."
Q: You were close with Dennis, he hired you for this position and everything, but is there something that's energizing at all about a change in coaches during the season?
Coach Tarver:"For us, everybody's motivated differently and how you get up to do your best for each of these 16 games, to hopefully play longer than that, is the key. You got to do it. You got to go to work. Is it energizing? We've got to bring that every day. It doesn't matter. [Allen]'s a great man and a great football coach and I love our talks and will continue to love our talks. So is Tony, so is this staff, so are a lot of these players, and some of them are young and they're going to be good, but they need some coaching. So to answer the question, we've got to do our job. It's buried, it's gone. We've got to do it."
Q: What do you like about the new linebackers, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Jamar Chaney, you signed this week?
Coach Tarver:"I do like that they're moving around. They got some movement skills and we're checking out what they can do and we're going to see what they can do, and like we said, we'll see what they can do and then we'll start to use them in those situations. They've been good In meetings so far and they've done what they're supposed to do both on defense and special teams so far, so I hope we can stay in that process and keep getting them better and use them for what they can. Hopefully they can show us their skills going forward and keep putting on display what they're showing right now. They have some athletic ability. I'd like to be able to see if that can translate into practice and then into the game."