With the Raiders preparing for their biggest game of the season to date against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football, Dennis Allen took the time to address the media on Wednesday. Allen talked about the absence of Von Miller and Ryan Clady in Denver’s lineup, the difficulties of playing the Broncos on the road and facing Peyton Manning, and playing on Monday Night Football.
Here is the transcript from the Raiders official website:
Coach Allen: By league rules, we don’t have to put out the injury report so we won’t talk about injuries today; we’ll do that tomorrow, as far as the injuries are concerned. I think our guys went out and had a good practice today. I think they’re focused. I think they’re ready and excited about the challenge. There’s no question about it that this is a really good football team that we’re playing. They’re solid in all areas. They’re exceptional on offense. They play very good defense, very tough defense. They run around to the football. They’re really good in special teams, both in the return unit and in the coverage unit. It’s a great challenge for us and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.
Two real significant players that aren’t going to be there for them: Ryan Clady and Von Miller. Aside from that, they’re still that strong?
Coach Allen: Yeah, they’re a real good football team. I think they’ve got a lot of depth and a lot of guys that can step in and fill the role. They’ve played without Von Miller and won two straight games. They’ll have their guys ready and just like everybody else in the NFL, they have the next-man-up philosophy and I’m sure they feel confident about the players they’re putting in there. Whoever they put out there is going to be a real challenge for us.
How has Wes Welker changed their offense?
Coach Allen: Anytime you can add another exceptional weapon like him, a guy that can make the receptions and work underneath, and he also has the ability to get down the field in some of the things they do with him. I think anytime you’re able to add an addition like that that’s a great player, it makes you even that much more formidable. He makes it tough. They’ve got three exceptional receivers that they play primarily, and the tight end, Julius Thomas, has come in as a receiving threat. If you do too much to load up and stop the pass, they’re able to run the football. They’ve got a lot of weapons on offense.
You’ve got nine sacks, which is tied for the league-lead, but five of those are coming from defensive backs. What does that say about your defense?
Coach Allen: You’ve got to find ways to affect the quarterback. Sometimes that comes from secondary pressure. Sometimes that comes with linebacker pressure. Sometimes that comes from your up-front guys. We’ll mix some things up; we’ll change some things up. We’re going to continue to look for different ways to affect the quarterback. It doesn’t always have to come from bringing extra rushers.
Do you think that the unpredictability can affect a guy like Peyton Manning?
Coach Allen: It’s hard to fool that guy. He’s seen a lot. He does a great job in preparation. It’ll be hard to fool him. It’s going to come down to execution. We’re going to have to execute our jobs and the team that executes the best will win the football game.
Terrelle Pryor has two starts under his belt now. How much do you see his confidence growing?
Coach Allen: I think the more he plays, the more confident that he’s going to get. It’s his fourth start if you include the Seattle game, so he’s relatively young as a starter in this league. If he’s able to continue to have some success, I can see his confidence really growing. I think Olson [Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson] has done a nice job of putting together a package and some things that he can do well and some things that give our offense a chance to have success.
Is there any advice that you can give him about playing in Denver, a notoriously tough place to play?
Coach Allen: I think he’s just got to get his mindset about playing his game. I don’t think he can focus too much on being on the road in that environment against that football team. He needs to worry about the things he needs to do to have success. Really, that’s what you have to do on a game-in, game-out basis, is really focus on what your assignments are and what you’ve got to get accomplished.
Playing on Monday Night Football, his first start on a big stage, have you had to have some conversations with him to say that this is just another game?
Coach Allen: We’ll address that whenever we need to address that. The thing you need to remember is that he’s got 10 other guys out there with him. It’s not just a one-man show. He’s just got to go out and do his job and do the things that we’re asking him to do to the best of his ability. All the other stuff will take care of itself.
What’s your take on the division after the first two weeks?
Coach Allen: It’s early in the year, so it’s hard to read too far into it. We’re going up against a really good football team. That’s really what my focus is, playing this team and worrying about the Denver Broncos.
With Manning getting rid of the ball so quickly, what’s the biggest thing for defenses to worry about?
Coach Allen: I think the thing that Peyton does is he knows where to go with the football and he takes what the defense gives him. We’re going to have to be sound in coverage and sound in our assignments and making sure we’re doing the things we’re supposed to do. He’s going to get some completions. He’s going to get some yards. They key is we’re going to have to eliminate points as much as we can.
Do you have any idea what’s going to happen yet with the game against San Diego?
Coach Allen: I don’t know. Obviously there are several options that the league is considering, and I’m not sure which direction they’re going in right now. I’m going to kind of leave it up to them. We’ll play the game whenever they tell us to play it.
Rod Streater is a pretty young guy, but can you talk about his level of maturity?
Coach Allen: I think Rod came in as a mature, young man. He’s got an incredible work ethic. He’s a guy, like a lot of young guys, when they’re able to have some success, they develop confidence and they build that confidence. It’s part of that swagger that we talk about when you see yourself as a playmaker. I can see him beginning to develop that mindset.
Conversely, with Denarius only targeted twice the other day and a pretty conspicuous drop, how do you get that going again?
Coach Allen: It’s going to come with making some plays. It’s going to come with when he gets his opportunities, being able to make something happen with it. He’s continued to come out here and work. The big thing is, he can’t get too down on himself. He’s got to continue to work and fight himself out of it. His opportunities are going to come. When they do, he’s got to take advantage of them.
Does he get down on himself a little too much?
Coach Allen: I think everybody does if they don’t have success. I think they key is to have confidence in yourself, know that you’re a good football players, which we all believe he is. I think he’ll be just fine.
Have you watched the Broncos first two games at all? What have you taken away from it?
Coach Allen: Several times. It’s going to come down to execution. They’re a good football team. They play good in all phases of the game. They play good on offense, it’s very explosive and they score a lot of touchdowns. They throw the ball extremely well. Defensively, they’ve done a great job of stopping the run. They’re first in the league in stopping the run. They fly around to the football. They’ve created a lot of takeaways; they’ve got six takeaways on the season. Special teams-wise, they do a great job in coverage. Their specialists are really good. They’ve got a kicker that’s got as strong a leg as anyone in the National Football League. Their punter does a great job. Trindon Holliday does a great job on returns. There are not a lot of weaknesses that they have.
You saw that Marcel Reece got signed to a contract extension. The fact that you’ve got a few guys locked up for next year, is that something you’re involved in?
Coach Allen: As far as the details of doing the contract and stuff, that’s not really my area. Reggie and I talk a lot about the guys that we feel can help us win football games. We’ve got some guys that are in the last year of their contract and I’m sure we’ll continue to discuss how we can get some of these guys locked up for the future. Right now, my job and our job as a football team, is to focus on winning football games this year.
Is there anything that a team can do to combat the affects of playing at that altitude?
Coach Allen: I don’t pay too much attention to it. I believe it’s all a mindset. I believe if you let that be a factor, it’ll be a factor in the game. If you block out all the outside distractions, then I don’t believe it’s much of a factor.