Heading into Sunday’s meeting with the New York Giants, offensive coordinator Greg Olson took to the podium to discuss the Raiders mindset on offense heading into the weekend as well as what the team needs to do with the ball in order to snap a lengthy East Coast losing skid.
Here is the official transcript from the Raiders official website.
Q: How crazy is it to you that last week you put up almost 600 yards of offense and still lost?
Coach Olson: “Yeah, really the last two weeks at halftime we felt that we’re moving the football, but we’ve got to find more ways to score or find a way to get into the end zone. I think we’ve shown at times that we can move the football. We’ve got to do it more consistently, and we’ve got to understand the importance of scoring opportunities — specifically scoring touchdowns. We’ve got to just we aware of that. We preach that and try to emphasize that in practice. We’ll find ways to move the ball, but let’s find a way to get into the end zone.”
Q: Coach, what do you see from the Giants defense?
Coach Olson: “I say it every week, but this is a tremendous front seven. I think they’re a team — really we can’t afford to overlook anybody — but they have a talented group, specifically in the defensive line and a talented group of linebackers. I think Jon Beason was an excellent addition to their defense. I think they’ve played much better since he’s been on the football field, but it’s a who’s who of very talented defensive lineman. We’re going to have to be ready to go when we get there.”
Q: You’ve talked about Terrelle Pryor needing to trust his offensive linemen, but with the Giants front seven being as talented as they are, how do you emphasize that with him?
Coach Olson: “To me it’s still part of the growth process with him a little bit — getting a feel for the pocket and what we call pocket instincts. I think you can only get that through experience, and again, he’s gained more experience every time that he steps out here. We always say we’re looking for constant, never-ending self-improvement. If we can just get a little bit better every week, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win every game. This is going to be one of those games where he’ll have a chance to experience a rush from a good defensive front, but again we say every game you’ve got to be ready to play. We’ve talked about lunch-pail games and bring-your-bat games and things like that, but we like to say every week now you better be ready to play in the National Football League. Every week presents a challenge, and to me this is just another challenge and another opportunity really for all of our players to get better.”
Q: Do you think that Terrelle Pryor is prone to scrambling too soon?
Coach Olson: “There are times that he does very well and times that he doesn’t, but again it’s a growing process for him. He’s obviously given us a lot of explosive plays, so it’s a delicate balance there. He’s doing a good job every week, and again he’s gaining experience every week. I think that’s again where we’re hoping every week he just gets better and better.”
Q: The Giants seem to have had a certain style for a long time now. Is preparing for this team similar to preparing for the Giants in the past?
Coach Olson: “Yeah, I think so. You look at the style of players that they’ve drafted or that they’ve brought in as free agents. They’re somewhat like the Raiders in that height, weight and speed has been very important. They’ve been very big teams. [Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin] has always built his teams, I think, from the front on out on both side of the ball. He’s put a lot of emphasis on the offensive line and defensive line. That’s what you see from him, and that’s what you see from their staff.”
Q: How has Rod Streater developed so far this season?
Coach Olson: “He’s a guy that we said from Day One — I think [Streater and Terrelle Pryor] have had a good relationship from the day that I got here. I think there’s a trust between the two of them. They work very well, very closely in the offseason. I think there was a bond developed there as well. We ask from the wide receivers as well, that every day they try to get a little bit better. Just make sure your arrow is going up and not leveling out or going down. Rod has been one of those guys that has stayed, to me, on that type of an arc.”
Q: Terrelle Pryor said that you pulled him and Matt McGloin aside to address the situation in Miami in terms of being the leader of a team. What do you think that Terrelle is like as a leader now?
Coach Olson: “I think it’s difficult. It was after practice that we discussed the situation down in Miami a little bit. I just think that quarterback, as we all know, is a position of leadership. On our side of the ball we’re always looking for leaders. We’re always looking to develop leadership. It’s important, I think, that the quarterbacks understand that they have a responsibility and a role as a quarterback of leadership, so they need to take it very seriously. They need to understand that that’s part of the position of playing quarterback in the National Football League and not to take it lightly and not to be looked at by the teammates as a guy that’s not serious about that as part of his job. I just wanted to make sure that they understood that. I think that Terrelle had a chance to sit behind Carson [Palmer] last year, sit back and watch his leadership style. I think he’ll have a different leadership style. Everybody does, but I just think that it was important that they understand that there’s a responsibility to playing quarterback in the National Football League. For most teams that is the position of leadership. For our team right now, we’re looking for leaders, specifically on our side of the football, so I just wanted to make them understand that.”
Q: Terrelle Pryor seems to be embracing that part of the position. Does he give teammates a spark in practice?
Coach Olson: “Yeah I think that, and I always think that as a leader you earn respect. You’ve got to earn that respect from your teammates based on how you prepare and also how you play. There are a lot of guys that work very, very hard, and if they don’t perform or they don’t get an opportunity to perform on the field it’s difficult to maintain that leadership role or establish yourself as a leader on the team. Now I’ve seen it done. I’ve seen backups that have been great leaders and have been voted captains before, but I think it’s just important that they are constantly aware of it, that they are constantly aware that all eyes and all ears in the building are on them in terms of how they’re preparing. They need to understand that everybody from coaches to management to their teammates, everyone’s listening to them in the locker rooms. They’ve got to be very aware of what they’re saying and how they’re acting. I just think that that’s an important part of the position. Again with Terrelle, it’s going to be part of the growth process, but I do think that he is does embrace that and is trying to establish himself as that leader on the offensive side.”
Q: In the two games that Rashad Jennings has had to come in for Darren McFadden, he’s led the team in receiving. I think he’s the only guy that’s caught more than six catches in a game this year. Does the offense change when he’s in there, or is it a result of him being the check-down?
Coach Olson: “I think it was a result really, with this last week on what the defense was giving us and Terrelle having a feel for that. He’s been a surprise. Again, I had Rashad a year ago in Jacksonville, and he’s been a very pleasant surprise for us. He’s done some very good things thus far. Again, he like everybody else that we preach day in and day out, needs to just come in every day and try to get a little bit better every day. Then when you have an opportunity you’ll be able to make the most of it, and I think he’s doing that up to this point. He’s going to get another opportunity this week, so again he’s been working hard at it. I’m happy for him.”
Q: As a guy who coached Richie Incognito, do you have any thoughts on the situation in Miami?
Coach Olson: “I think it’s sad. Certainly it’s sad. Nobody wins here — not the team out there. The players don’t win in this situation. The organization doesn’t win in this situation. I think it’s sad to see how it’s played out, but my experience with Richie — and I talked to Richie this week — I just think he brings an element of toughness. That’s what he is. I do believe that some of the things were taken out of context. I hope that’s the case. Obviously we all hope that’s the case, but his personality is high-strung, very high-strung. He’s a tough player. The other things outside of that, I just think it’s really sad. You just hope that it’s not true — what’s being said out there.”
Q: In general, do you think that the coaches are responsible for preventing issues like that in the locker room, or is it more the guys you bring in should prevent those things from ever happening?
Coach Olson: “Well I think you have to be aware of the team that you have. You have to be aware of things that are being said in the locker room. You need to be aware of the relationships in the locker room amongst your team. All of that is part of the evaluation process in terms of the players that you’re bring onto your team, but everyone needs to understand like a parent — you try to guide your kids and give them the guidance that they need, but at some point, they’re going to go out and do their own thing. We don’t have a lot of rules. I don’t think D.A. [Dennis Allen] has a lot of rules here other than treat guys with respect, and if you’re doing that then you’re probably going to have a chance to have a pretty good team and a pretty good locker room. If not, usually if you have veteran leadership on your team — good veteran leadership — a lot of those problems are minimized. I don’t know about their locker room. I don’t know the strength of their leadership. Obviously Richie Incognito is a veteran leader, so you’ve just got to make sure they’re leading in the right way.”
Q: What was his mindset when you talked him?
Coach Olson: “Again, he felt it was taken out of context. He felt like he had a good relationship in that locker room with not only the player in question, but most of the players in the locker room.”
Q: Did you guys have a pretty good relationship then if you’re talking to him still?
Coach Olson: “Yeah, over the years when he had the issues in St. Louis, I’d reached out there because that really wasn’t the Richie that I knew when he had the issues with [former Rams Head Coach Steve] Spagnuolo. He went over the top there in the end in St. Louis, and it was more about reaching out for help. I thought at that point this guy’s going to need help. He’ll never play again in the National Football League. I had a chance to visit with him when I was in Tampa, when we played the Dolphins. It just felt like at that time he had turned the corner a little bit in terms of maturity and the importance of being a football player, but also being responsible in his actions, so it was disappointing — some of the things that we’re reading and hearing. You just hope that it’s not true. Again, with him it feels like it’s all been taken out of context, but that’s where we’re at with it.”