Dennis Allen took to the podium on Monday to name Terrelle Pryor his Week 17 starter, address the quarterback situation between Pryor and Matt McGloin as well as answering some early questions about the way the season has went and how he thinks his Raiders team will finish heading into Week 17 against the Denver Broncos.
“All right, there’s really nothing as far as the injury front is concerned. We came out of the game fairly healthy. It looks like we might have a chance to get Jeremy Stewart this week, so that’ll help us, not only from the running back position, but also from a special teams perspective. So just going back and looking at the game from yesterday, again, we can’t have the self-inflicted wounds. The penalties, I thought, hurt us in the game. They kept drives alive from a defensive standpoint — gave them more opportunities. Those are hard things to overcome. Then obviously the two turnovers that occurred deep in our own territory put us in a tough situation and really resulted in 10 points for San Diego. So we can’t beat ourselves. We have to play smarter than that, and we can’t do those things that are going to cost or football team.”
Q: What is the key in the heat of the moment to get the guys to watch out for penalty situations?
Coach Allen: “Well listen, all you can do is you can stress those points. Obviously we’ve got to do a better job there because we can’t have those types of penalties in a football game like this. Some of those things are going to happen. I didn’t agree with all of them, but some of the plays down the field, those are going to happen in a football game. But the ones that we can totally control, the things that happen before the snap or after the whistle, are the things that we have to eliminate.”
Q: Do you think the after the whistle penalties are a sign of frustration?
Coach Allen: “I’m sure it is. Yeah, I’m sure it is. Everybody’s frustrated. The guys in that locker room are fighters. They’re competitors. They want to win, and they’re trying to do everything they can. They’ve given us everything they’ve got to try to get that accomplished. But again, we can’t do anything that’s going to hunt our team.”
Q: When Mike Jenkins knocked the ball out of the guy’s hand, did you consider taking him out of the game so that one of the assistants could talk to him at that point? What was your thinking on that?
Coach Allen: “My thinking was that Mike Jenkins playing in the football game gave us the best opportunity to have success. I think there’s a point in time, obviously, where you have those conversations, and I had a conversation with him when the drive was over. But I thought in the middle of that drive that he gave us the best opportunity to have success, so I wanted to keep him in the game.”
Q: Coach, do you think in a situation like that, that the officials are kind of looking for him after he’s put himself on the radar?
Coach Allen: “No, I mean it was right there.”
Q: I meant later in the game.
Coach Allen: “Oh, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think so. I think they obviously were calling it pretty tight in the back end of the defense. And I thought there were a couple of times where we were in pretty good position and got called for a foul, which hurt our team. But that’s the way it is. You’ve got to be able to adjust to it.”
Q: Did you re-watch the catch in the end zone by Rod Streater? And if you did, what did you think of it?
Coach Allen: “I still believe that he had possession of the ball. He went to the ground and maintained possession. And that the ball was pulled from him after he had — I thought it was a touchdown.”
Q: You’ve been one of the top penalized teams in the league this year. How much do you think it reflects on you as a coach?
Coach Allen: “Well I think it reflects on all of us. I think we’ve got to do a better job of that. I think we’ve got to eliminate the penalties. It’s obviously been something that’s been part of this organization for a while. We cleaned it up a little bit last year. We’ve gotten back to committing some penalties again this year. It’s something we’ve got to continue to work to clean up. It’s something that we talk about a lot. We preach about it a lot. We give a penalty report every week, but obviously we’ve got to continue to work to get that cleaned up.”
Q: Is it difficult to shut out the negative questions and comments about job security? After all, you’re a human being like everybody else.
Coach Allen: “Well listen, we’re all human. But I realize that I can only control the things I can control. We control the things that we control, and that’s all that we can focus on. So we’re back up there today getting ready for Denver. As soon as I get done here, I’m going to go back up there and start putting a game plan together getting ready for the Denver Broncos. Those are the things that we can control.”
Q: How confident are you that you can close the gap between you and the Denver Broncos and the other elite teams in the league next year?
Coach Allen: “Listen, I’m not putting a time frame on anything. I’m very confident that we can close that gap. I’m not going to put limits on us. But that’s stuff that we address and stuff that we work towards when we get to the offseason. It’ll be the first time, at least since I’ve been here, that we’ve had a compliment of draft picks, some salary cap room, some things that we can do to go out and try to continue to improve this football team.”
Q: What are your thoughts heading into this Sunday’s game against the Broncos?
Coach Allen: “Well obviously they’re the best team in our division. They’re the best team in our conference right now. They’re playing extremely well. The quarterback may be one of the best players to ever play the game, so I think this is a good football team. I think this is a really good football team. And we’re going to have to have a good plan. We’ve going to have to go out and compete and play hard. We’re going to have to do a great job defensively of keeping the ball in front of us and do a great job of tackling when they throw it underneath. When you go back and look at the first game that we played against them, we did a pretty good job of keep the ball in front of us. We didn’t do as good a job tackling when they threw the ball in front of us or ran the ball. That’s an area we’ve got to improve on in this game.”
Q: Do you think it’s safe to say that any coach needs a third year to turn around and rebuild a franchise?
Coach Allen: “I really don’t want to get into all the speculation. There will be a time and place for that and I don’t think right now this is the time or the place.”
Q: Coach, you ran the ball just 17 times in this game. Was that the plan to run the ball more?
Coach Allen: “It was really a thought of how the game plan or how the game progressed. In the third quarter we really only had two possessions and then when you get into the fourth quarter we were chasing points. When you get in that mode you have to throw the ball a little bit more so I think the game plan just kind of dictated as the game played out that that was how it was going to work.”
Q: There was a play early in the game where you had third-and-1 and [Matt] McGloin tried to hit [Jamize] Olawale and he missed him. Was that something that he called at the line of scrimmage or was that the play?
Coach Allen: “It was part of the plan. We felt like we had a matchup there if they went to man coverage, like they did, that we thought we could take advantage of it. It worked just like we thought it would, we just didn’t execute the play. We just didn’t make the throw and catch and in those situations you have to be able to execute those plays.”
Q: How much freedom does Matt have to make those kinds of changes? Is he a bit more constrained because of his experience level or do you give him the jurisdiction to be able to make changes?
Coach Allen: “There’s a few things that he has adjustments and checks at the line of scrimmage, but that was really a play call that if we got that particular look and we got a man coverage with Olawale, on I believe it was Manti Te’o, that we were going to try to take advantage of that opportunity. We won on the route; we just didn’t make the play.”
Q: Coach, how do you keep the team’s spirits high considering you’ve only won four games? How do you keep the motivation level high?
Coach Allen: “Same things we’ve been doing. I don’t think anything’s been from a lack of trying or effort. We have a group of professionals in there; they understand what their job is. There’s never been any quit in this football team – I don’t anticipate seeing any this week. We’ll go in and we’ll give them a good plan, we’ll be excited about going out and practicing, be excited about going out and playing. That’s what we do. That’s what we’ve been doing since we’ve been little bitty kids is enjoying and having fun playing football. That can’t ever change.”
Q: In adverse situations like this, Jason Tarver had mentioned on Thursday that when people are tired, when things are not going well, who stands up and who plays better. Is that going to be a major factor in your evaluation of these guys?
Coach Allen: “There’s no doubt that the evaluation process is still going on. We’re going to continue to look at these players. It’s no secret that we have a lot of guys on one-year contracts. Every opportunity that you have is important and we all need to take advantage of it.”
Q: What will be your plan with [Darren] McFadden in this game?
Coach Allen: “[Rashad] Jennings will be the lead back and Darren will roll in there. Not a whole lot different than what we did this past week.”
Q: Who’s the quarterback, Matt again?
Coach Allen: “No, we’re going to go with Terrelle [Pryor]. We’re going to play Terrelle this week.”
Coach Allen: “Yes.”
Q: Will he play the whole thing or might Matt come in?
Coach Allen: “We’ll see, but he’s going to be the starter. I informed both those guys this morning and we’ll go from there.”
Q: Was that part of the process, this was one more opportunity where you wanted to look at him?
Coach Allen: “Yeah. Listen, we had a chance to see Matt McGloin for six games. I liked a lot of the things that I saw in Matt. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten an opportunity to see Terrelle in a game and I want to get him in the game and get another opportunity to evaluate him.”
Q: You’ve had some young guys, some guys maybe not on the radar, step up this season like Andre Holmes. Mychal Rivera has had some really nice games. How have those guys developed through the season and how encouraging is it to see some of these guys that were maybe under the radar to pop up and have nice seasons?
Coach Allen: “That’s an encouraging thing as you start looking forward, to have guys relatively unknown that are able to step up and make an impact. Andre Holmes, Rod Streater, Mychal Rivera, those guys that you mentioned, are obviously guys that we can look to build on as we move into the future. It’s good to have some of those young guys that have done a good job of developing and getting better this year.”
Q: How would you assess McGloin’s play against San Diego?
Coach Allen: “Overall I would say it was a plus. Obviously there were mistakes. He wasn’t quite as sharp as he had been earlier in a couple of the earlier games. But I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen out of Matt McGloin since really the first moment he walked on campus here. I think we have a guy that can be in our plans for the future. I’m glad he’s on this football team.”
Q: Do you think he sort of plateaued?
Coach Allen: “Listen, I think when you come in and you play as well as he did in the first game, your expectations go so high and obviously, he wasn’t able to perform at that same level on a week-in and week-out basis. I think overall when you talk about a guy that was an undrafted free agent, I think he’s done pretty well.”
Q: Just to reiterate, it has nothing to do with necessarily that Matt lost the job?
Coach Allen: “No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. We’ve said that for a while now we want to be able to evaluate Terrelle, so here’s our opportunity to go in and do that. When Terrelle has played he’s gone in and done a good job so we anticipate he’ll go in and play well.”
Q: Every time that he’s spoken to the press since Matt has played, he’s kind of harped on being a good teammate. Have you seen actions to back up those words?
Coach Allen: “Yeah. He’s done a good job. Listen, we all get frustrated when we’re not playing but he’s done a good job of that and he’s going to get another opportunity.”