Oakland Raiders: Tony Sparano postgame presser transcript


Oct 12, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Tony Sparano talks with is team during the fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Interim head coach Tony Sparano’s first game saw the 0-4 Oakland Raiders in a position to win late in the fourth quarter against the upstart San Diego Chargers in what was a thrilling AFC West battle at the Oakland Coliseum. Behind rookie quarterback Derek Carr’s four passing touchdowns, the Raiders needed to keep Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers out of the endzone after going ahead 28-21 nearly midway through the fourth to earn their first win of 2014 and it looked like Sparano’s impact as head coach would finish with the team’s first win.

Unfortunately for Sparano and the Raiders, a field goal drive followed by a touchdown late from the Chargers would wipe out a valiant effort as San Diego would leave the Coliseum with a 31-28 win to push Oakland’s record to 0-5 through six weeks of the 2014 season. A missed Sebastian Janikowski field goal before halftime and some defensive failures late in the game sealing the Raiders fate for another week.

After the game Sparano faced the media for his press conference and was relatively upbeat about his team’s performance despite the loss to go down to 0-5 as he felt that the Raiders players put forth a strong showing in a game where the team made enough adjustments over the bye week to nearly beat a Chargers team that has been touted as a potential team that could contend for an AFC Championship this season. Of course, Sparano also mentioned that the next step for the team will be finishing games and building off the effort on Sunday as after five straight losses the fanbase as well as the locker room are thirsty to finally get into the win column.

Following is the transcript of Sparano’s press conference from the Raiders official website:

Opening Remarks

“Just to start here – I just told the team and we talked about this the entire week, we didn’t walk into this place here today in front of our fans here to play a good game, play a competitive game, do any of those things; we came here to win a football game today. In our league, there’s none of those type of things. There’s no moral victories; there’s none of those things. I did tell them that I was proud of them. This group, from what they’ve been through the last two weeks, came out today and played with a lot of energy, I thought, a lot of passion. Got to give credit to the team across the field. That’s why they are where they are right now. I thought their quarterback at the end there made some big plays. I thought there was some plays down at the end there that we didn’t make, plays throughout the game. We talked about earlier in the week with Oakland kind of beating Oakland a few times. I think they were minimized, but nonetheless, still there. A lot of things we corrected over the bye were good for us. We’re going to continue to get better here. This group is committed to doing a better job out there each and every week. We’re going to continue to work our tails off here and get better. So, with that, I’ll open it up for questions.

Q: What did you correct over the bye?

Well, we corrected a bunch of things over the bye, a bunch of things. From fundamental things – I thought we tackled better today. I thought we, for the most part, played the run better, particularly with what they were trying to do with us in there. It wasn’t any different than what people were trying to do for a couple weeks there prior to that. I thought our guys competed to the football. I thought that was really evident out there today. I thought offensively we ran the ball well during the course of this game. I thought Derek did some really good things. He threw some progressions in getting the ball around to a bunch of receivers. Felt like those were things we did well. Third down for us offensively was really good for us today against a good defense. Defensively, we obviously we have to get off the field on third down. We made a couple of key stops at different times to get ourselves out there when we needed to. This team coming out at the half leads the league in points scored coming out from the half. We knew they had the ball in a close game, which is why we took the ball in the beginning of the game to try to start fast. That’s something that we practiced this week. We put a huge emphasis on starting fast in the change of our practice schedule. I thought offensively, obviously, we started fast. We stopped them in the first series of the second half, which was critical at that point. Kept ourselves in the football game and gave ourselves a chance to win a game at the end, and didn’t win the football game at the end.”

Q: It looked like you let Derek open it up quite a bit.

“He really, I thought, played well today. The kid is a competitive kid. He’s just getting better and better and better. On that first play, the first touchdown play, they came with pressure, we expected the pressure, the guys handled it pretty good up front, but Derek kept through the progression and getting the ball to the right guy, that’s progress. He’s continuously made progress in several football games here. I’m not just talking about one game right now, but he’s gotten better and better each week. You can see it today with what he did. A couple times with his movements, finding the right people on the move, finding some people on the sideline, those type of things there. So I thought he did a good job with that. The play at the end of the ball game, if anybody wants to ask, it’s 2nd-and-very short; we felt like we’d make the first down, took a shot, and that kid made a great play.”

Q: In the final sequence, you were moving along and you went for the bomb. Was there any thought of just getting the 6- or 8-yarders?

“There’s always thought when you’re in the two-minute drill. It’s something that we’ve done a really good job of this year, being in two-minute. We’re one of the tops in the league in two-minute right now. Unfortunately, we’ve had to use it too much. It was a scenario where the coverage dictated where the ball was going to go and we took the shot. The kid made a heck of a play as you can see. We’re talking about an inch one way or an inch the other way and that’s the nature of our game. You lose one-score games and those are the ones that hurt. And they should hurt for a little while. We’ll get it behind us tomorrow and we’ll get on and we’ll get ready to play Arizona.”

Q: In the second half, they were lined up for that 54-yard field goal and you had to burn a timeout…

“Yeah, I had to burn a timeout at that point. It was in between punt team and in between field goal. We had to burn a timeout. We wanted to get it right and we had too many people on the field at one point, so we needed to take the timeout and get the people off the field and line up the proper way. As I said to the team earlier in the week, and we did talk about this, timeouts are gold. At the end of the ball game here, when you’re stuck with one going down there towards the end, you really need to hold it as long as you can hold it for the possible field goal, if you had a chance to kick the field goal. That was a scenario where we burned one unfortunately that we didn’t need to burn – or shouldn’t have burned but needed to at the point.”

Q: They had the ball for almost 38 minutes. At the end of the game, when you had been defending the run better in the 3rd quarter, they were able to get you right up the middle.

“Listen, I don’t know what the play counts were, but one thing is we scored on a couple of quick possessions. We scored, obviously on the 3rd play of the game, boom, we score. And then we score another one on a quick possession, so I think that that got our defense back out there a couple times. And then of course, they made some plays on 3rd down; you have to give those guys credit, that’s what they do. They’re one of the best in the league on 3rd down; we knew that coming in. Again, I thought our kids made some key stops, but we just didn’t make enough of them, but we’ll continue to get better in those areas. Did they wear us down a little bit? I’m not sure about that, but they were obviously able to run the ball at the end a little bit.”

Q: Are you encouraged by your run game? McFadden had a really good game and you got something from Maurice Jones-Drew?

“I was happy to see both runners. I’ve been asked the question about Maurice a bunch and obviously Maurice came out there today and gave us a little spark too. Both guys contributed. I thought the guys up front in the core there did a nice job being able to rush the football against this group. But we need to be able to do that. I don’t know what our carries were, I know what our totals were, but our average per carry was pretty high today and Derek needs that. Offensively, we need to be able to do that, put ourselves in manageables. I think we converted 60 percent today, somewhere around there, on 3rd down, and that’s being in manageables. If you run the ball and get yourself in those situations, you’re giving yourself a chance to win the game and move the ball and stay out on the field.”

Q: Rivers had a lot of time to throw the ball today. Did you think about blitzing him more in the 2nd half?

“Yeah, we thought about it. We thought about blitzing him. We blitzed him a few times early. We got to him a couple of different ways, but with Philip, I said this earlier in the week, if you don’t tackle him, he’s a guy that buys time. He’s going to hurt you in those situations and he hurt us in one or two of those situations today. It might have been three of those situations today where he kind of got outside of the pocket, bought some time, and then found somebody in the scramble drill and made a chunk play. You have to pick your poison a little bit with him. If you’re going to go out there and just pressure him, not different than the third play of the game for us, you could be looking at a different situation. We’ll go back, we’ll evaluate it and take a look at it. We felt like, in the beginning of the game, we were getting to him a little bit, getting around him; he was feeling us. I think in the second half of the game, obviously, he was able to skate out of there and make a few plays.”

Q: Your offense ran the ball so well in this game; why did you call a screen pass up four with five minutes left?

“We knew they were going to pressure us. They did pressure us. We kind of got bottled up in there a little bit and they ate the back up on the screen. I thought it was a really good call at that time. It was a 2nd-and-5 situation and I think we just ran the ball for five yards and it was a 2nd-and-5, I thought the call was a good call. There was pressure. It was exactly what we thought it was going to be in that scenario. But we didn’t execute the play. They made a play in a situation, so that’s pretty much why. I thought it was a good call.”

Q: You have Arizona coming in…what do you have to do to get this thing turned around?

“We’ll go back and we’ll evaluate the entire game from what just happened. We have several outstanding quarterbacks coming up. Carson [Palmer] this week coming in and another good football team coming in. But, that’s the best team in the league today according to most of you, so that’s one of the best teams in the league out there today and our kids played really hard. And they’ll play really hard again next week. I have all the confidence in the world that they’ll play hard. We need to be in these kind of football games and finally win one of these kind of games. That’s how we turn this thing around. We have to be in these kind of football games. We have to win one of these type of football games and that’s how you get this thing turned around – work hard and get this thing turned around that way.”

Q: Do you think moving forward you’ll continue to stay aggressive with Carr?

“I think that we’re going to do whatever is best for the Oakland Raiders right now and Derek made some plays down the field. We pushed the ball down the field a little bit, which was part of the philosophy over the bye. We needed to figure out how to gain some chunk plays. When I say Oakland beats Oakland, we had five drops in the first half of the game. When you look at Derek’s numbers, and you guys were watching the game, we need to make some of those plays for him. Our players know that. They understand that. We’ll see it on the tape. But we’re going to continue to do those things.”

Q: Can you talk about TJ Carrie’s impact?

“His impact was in two areas. I thought, obviously, on defense I felt him challenging the football. I felt TJ out there challenging the football. I felt him around the ball on defense. And then of course in the special teams game, we put him back there for kickoffs, which was something we talked about over the bye, and then punt return in there. He helped us shorten the field a little bit and our offense took advantage in some of those situations, off of those type of deals, which was really good to see, a couple of phases working together. I thought TJ, for a young guy coming into that situation, really did a nice job. When you really look at it, when you look at TJ, look at Khalil out there flying around out there today, and Gabe Jackson and Derek and these kids, it’s a good place to be right now.”

Q: You said a couple weeks ago that you thought maybe this team had forgotten how to win games. Does that play into how this game played out?

“I don’t think in this game I can honestly that. I said that. I would tell that that is the truth if I felt like it was the truth. I don’t really think that’s how it played out here at the end of this thing. But we have to win one of these like that. We put ourselves in position to win a game. Really, other than the New England game, we haven’t been in that kind of position, to win a football game. We put ourselves in position to win and every guy on the sideline believed in the two-minute drill, that that’s what was going to happen when we got out there at the end of the game. I just feel like right now what they’re starting to figure out that the amount of work that went into the last week really…and some of the things that we really emphasized showed up in this football game, and that some of them we won in some of those scenarios. We just have to continue to win a few more of those and I think they understand that a little bit better right now. We’ll figure it out and we’ll get ourselves in a situation where we can win one.”

Quotes courtesy of Raiders.com