The official Dennis Allen Monday press conference transcript from Raiders.com. After the 24-20 loss Allen talked about Rashad Jennings’ future playing time should Darren McFadden get healthy, Terrelle Pryor’s MCL injury, and the early outlook heading into another road game against the Houston Texans.
“Nothing really updated on the injury front; nothing different than what I reported last night. Just overall, where we’re at as a football team, obviously, we’re in a hole right now. We have to continue to work to fight to get ourselves back out of this hole. I know we have a lot of character in those guys in the locker room in there. I know they’re going to keep fighting, keep working. They’re the type of guys you want in the locker room. We have to learn how to win on the road and I thought we did some good things in the game and put ourselves in some positions to have an opportunity to win. We didn’t make enough plays at the critical moments of the game to be able to win the game. We have to go back and correct the mistakes we made. We have to improve and we have another opportunity to go out this week and do that. When you look at that game, positives from that game, to win on the road you have to get off to a fast start, and I thought we were able to do that. To get the turnover to start the game and then to take advantage of the turnover and punch it in for seven points on the first drive of the game I thought was big for us to get started that way. I thought offensively we ran the ball very effectively in the football game. I thought Rashad Jennings did an outstanding job of coming in and running the football. I thought our offensive line did a nice job of blocking and creating some open lanes for him to run the ball. We had the three takeaways in the game: the fumble on the kickoff, the fumble on the screen play to set us up with the ball on the 22-yard-line and obviously the interception return for a touchdown I thought were critical plays in the game – they gave us a chance. I was proud of our defense for responding the way that they did after a poor performance the week before. Obviously, there are a few things we need to improve on and get fixed, but I thought they responded well to a down week. I thought overall that special teams was a plus, we were able to get some things going in the return game with a couple of pretty good kickoff returns, one out to the 30, one out to the 41, which set us up in some pretty good field position. We downed three punts inside the 20-yard line so I thought Marquette [King] did an outstanding job in that area. There are a lot of things we have to work to improve on; we have to work to continue to work to improve in our passing game. Everybody’s involved in that, protection is involved in that, routes are involved in that, the quarterback is involved in that, that’s something that we have to work on to improve because we have to be able to throw the ball effectively to have success offensively in this league. Penalties were a huge factor in the game; critical penalties at critical times. We had the ball at the 38-yard line and we have the intentional grounding which is a loss of 20, we come back right away that and run the ball and pick up an explosive gain running the ball, which puts us right back on the 38-yard line to have a chance to try a long field goal. We get the holding call which puts us back at the 34 and takes away a scoring opportunity. We got the ball third and one at the one, we had the false start penalty which moves us back to the six-yard line, we’re not able to punch it in for a touchdown and that’s four points in the game. We had the defensive offsides when we stop them on a third down play, we’re able to get off the field there, we’re able to hold them to a field goal. That’s another four points in the game. There are a lot of plays in the game where we can pick up those four points to get or more to make that a win and those are the things we have to work to correct. The turnovers are an issue; we have to protect the ball better. We can’t have the turnovers especially again when we have the ball in scoring position. A blocked punt for a touchdown can’t happen; it’s the one thing on an otherwise positive performance by the special teams, that’s the one thing that kind of ruins the day as far as that was concerned in our special team’s effort. Our third-down and red-zone percentages on both sides of the ball have to be better, so those are the areas that we did we well in, those are the areas where we need to look to improve. I like that locker room in there. Those guys are going to continue to fight, they’re going to continue to compete and we’re going to get this thing turned around.”
Q: Was Terrelle’s [Pryor] knee more of a factor than you thought it would be going into the game?
Coach Allen: “I don’t know whether it was or it wasn’t. I think it was obvious that there wasn’t that explosiveness that we had seen out of him prior to the injury. I’ll sit down and visit with Terrelle a little bit more to find out exactly where he is, physically. It wasn’t something that we thought would be a big factor going into the game, but obviously it was a factor.”
Q: How confident are you that Pryor is open with you about how bad he’s hurting? Is it possible that he was just trying to suck it up?
Coach Allen: “I think sometimes guys want to go out and compete and they try to do everything they can to help the team win. We want guys that want to help this football team win and that’s going to be important for us moving forward.”
Q: But there’s a line there where you’re hurt too much and you can’t help the team …
Coach Allen: “You have to be effective. If you’re injured and can’t help the football team, it’s best that we have somebody else in there. When you watch the game, I didn’t look at it and think it was really the limitation that held us back.”
Q: Why has the passing game gotten worse the past few weeks compared to earlier in the year?
Coach Allen: “It’s a combination of all the things I’ve been talking about. We have to be able to go through our progressions, we have to be able to read things out, throw the ball with timing and accuracy. We have to be able to protect better so that the quarterback has more confidence to sit in there in the pocket and we have to do a better job at getting open at the top of the routes. The passing game is never one person, it’s a combination of 11 guys going out there and doing their job and we’re going to continue to work on it, we’re going to continue to continue to press on it. It’s an area that we have to get better at.”
Q: Is it troubling or more difficult that everyone needs to get better, like you have some kind of problems in different areas, as opposed to needing the wide outs to hold onto the ball or just to protect better. What needs to get better?
Coach Allen: “Well that’s something that we’ve got to continue to work on. It’d be a lot easier to if you could say there’s one specific thing that we can pinpoint and say that’s the problem that we’re having in the passing game. There are a lot of issues that are involved in that. You know, a lot of issues with injuries, change-ups to the lineup, feeling confident in what we’re doing in the passing game. It’s an area that we need to continue to improve on and we’ve got seven games left to do it.”
Q: Have teams made adjustments in how they defend Terrelle [Pryor], the more tape they get and now is it up to him to adjust back to what they’re doing?
Coach Allen: “I don’t think that they’ve made a ton of adjustments to what we’ve been doing with him. I think, obviously, he didn’t have the explosive runs in the game the other day, but there were some plays to be had with him in the running game and there are still some things we were able to do with him getting out of the pocket and making plays down the field. So, I don’t know if they’ve changed a whole lot about with what they’re doing, I just feel like we need to do a good job of executing as a whole.”
Q: Coach, I want to get back to Pryor for a second, he said after the game that he wasn’t able to move around and get out of the pocket the way he normally does and you say you’re going to talk to him about, but did he not express that to you or any of the coaches during the game that he was hampered?
Coach Allen: “No, that was never expressed to me. I watched the game and you could tell that he wasn’t 100%. So, we just have to go and talk about and make sure that if he’s healthy enough to go that he can be effective for us.”
Q: So there was no point when you considered taking him out?
Coach Allen: “No.”
Q: We’re past the halfway point, what are some of the things that you see with the team starting fast and ending slow?
Coach Allen: “Well, we took the first drive of the second half and drove it all the way down to the one-yard line. Now, we weren’t able to punch it in and get seven points like we needed to, but that wasn’t the issue. I thought we started fast in the first half, I thought we started fast in the second half. I just thought we had some opportunities in the second half where we weren’t able to take advantage of it.”
Q: Rashad Jennings, second week in a row going for 100 total yards of offense and he’s kind of providing you with those core runs that you talk about. Is he earning the right to carry the ball more whether Darren [McFadden] is healthy or not?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, absolutely. It’s a production business and when he’s had the opportunity to go in there, he’s produced. And when you do that you get more opportunities. So I was very pleased with the way he ran the football in the game the other day.”
Q: Is it conceivable that he could start in the next game even if Darren [McFadden] is healthy?
Coach Allen: “Oh, I don’t know. We’ll look at that. I think the key is that he’s going to get his touches because he’s earned his touches.”
Q: Coach, do you have any updates on some of the other injured players that you’re hoping to get back soon?
Coach Allen: “No, not anything specific. Hopefully we’ll be able to get a few of those guys back, but we’ll know more probably tomorrow.”
Q: Coach, Taiwan Jones continues to transform into a unique special teams player; what do you think it is, besides his God given talent and God given speed that he brings to the team?
Coach Allen: “Well, and I’ve said this before, I think the first thing you need to be an elite special teams players is that you have to see yourself that way. I think a lot of times there’s this perception of special teams that it’s the other element, or [not] talked about aspect of the football game, but it’s very valuable and it’s been a very valuable asset to our football team this year. And, I think that he understands the importance of it; and I think that he understands his role in it; and I think he understands that he’s going to help this football team win games. So, as with most things, it’s all about your mindset and how you go about it, and he’s attacked it with the right mindset.”
Q: What did you think of [Menelik] Watson in his first start?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, I think he struggled a little bit in this game. I mean obviously, I knew going into this game that with their [the New York Giants] defensive front that it was going to be a challenge. I think when you look at it athletically, he’s athletic and talented enough, but he has limited experience. There were some good things that he did during the game and obviously, there were some things that he struggled a little bit with. Hopefully he’ll learn from that and continue to get better because of that.”
Q: What did the film show about the blocked punt? What went wrong?
Coach Allen: “Yeah, we just had a miscommunication in protection. We had a guy, we started on him, then they kind of did a little twist and we came off of that guy, so there was just a little bit of miscommunication as to who had who. We’d been pretty good at that up until that point during the season, so now we have to work to get that fixed.”
Q: Is [Jack] Crawford normally on that unit or is he not usually on that unit?
Coach Allen: “He’s been in and out of that unit. Again, with some of the injuries that we’ve faced, guys have to go in and fill in. But, he’s done it and he’s done a nice job when he’s been on that unit. We just had a bit of miscommunication on that punt.”
Q: Are you of the belief that maybe just one game can things turned around, that if you have four or five days of good practice that you can go out and beat the Texans or whichever team you’re going to be playing?
Coach Allen: “Well, here’s what I’m looking at: I’m looking at this team getting focused in on beating the Houston Texans, and that’s the only thing I’m concerned with. I’m not concerned about anything other than that because that’s the only thing that we can control right now. We can’t control anything that’s happened in the past. All we can control is how we go out and prepare, how we get ready to win a football game against the Houston Texans – in a game that’ll be another tough game. They’re a top offense, they’re the number one rated defense in the National Football League. They have good football players. They’re well-coached. So, it’ll be a tough challenge.”