Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Even though you are a head coach now with the Raiders, how much do you miss New Orleans?
"I have a lot of great memories in New Orleans and a lot of great friends still there in that organization. That organization and town will always hold a special place in my heart."
The coaches and players we talked to today said they were not surprised by your quick rise in coaching but were you even a little surprised with how quickly you became a head coach?
"I don't know. I try not really think about it all that much. I have always believed that if you work hard at what you are doing and try to do the best job that you can then eventually certain opportunities come along. It didn't start out that fast for me. I did four years as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M. It took me a while to get my first job and that was secondary coach at the University of Tulsa. It wasn't like it was a fast process. Now, I went pretty fast from being a defensive backs coach to coordinator and now head coach. Overall, I didn't feel the process was exceptionally fast."
Roman Harper said earlier that your son Garrison is a big fan of Malcolm Jenkins – is he still a big fan?
"I think he has moved on from Malcolm (laughter). That was definitely his guy though. I am sure he would still be excited to see Malcolm."
Harper also joked today that he takes a lot of the credit for your quick rise in the coaching ranks – do you agree?
"Absolutely (laughter). Roman is the reason why I am where I am at. At the end of the day, the group that I had there in New Orleans was a special group. The way that they played and worked as a secondary unit…there is no doubt that is where I got recognition. That was the start of my ability for where I am at."
As a Texas A&M alum, are you going to remind Alabama alum Roman Harper about the game last Saturday?
"No, I kind of expected that. I am not going to be too hard on Roman."
You don't want to incite him at all?
"No, he has gray hair already (laughter) I don't want to put any more stress on him."
Were you surprised by the Saints 0-4 start or by how they have won four out of five games since?
"Really nothing surprises me in the National Football League anymore. Crazy things happen. Obviously they have been dealing with a lot of tough situations there. It's an extremely strong organization that has great leadership from Mickey Loomis, Sean Payton, Joe Vitt and it starts with the Owner Tom Benson. On one hand, I am not surprised that they had some early struggles but I am certainly not surprised that they have been able to turn it around."
I am sure you learned a lot from Sean Payton about being a head coach but was there one certain thing that he stressed the most?
"I don't know if there is just one thing that you look at and say 'that's what it was.' I think just Sean's strong belief in what wins and loses football games. Also, the fact that he was able to just stand strong on what those beliefs were and he wasn't afraid to make tough decisions. That's what you have to do as a head coach."
Could Richard Seymour play this weekend?
"I think we will have to wait and see as we get later in the week. I certainly wouldn't rule anything out at this time."
Is Darren McFadden someone that could play even if he just practices on Friday?
"I think if any of those guys are able to practice on Friday that I would anticipate there would be a chance of them playing."
You coached on a team that had Drew Brees and probably slept well at night knowing that. Now that you have to face him, is he keeping you up at night?
"Yes, I haven't gotten a whole lot of sleep thinking about facing Drew. I sat there and watched that offense for five straight years. I have seen what they are able to accomplish. Obviously Drew is a big part of that. The thing about Drew that impresses me as much as anything is that he has never lost anything as far his work ethic and the way he goes about doing his job. That is what has allowed him to have so much success. As I watch these tapes, you really get more of an appreciation for what he is doing as you are able to sit back and just watch him play."
What was the message to the team after the last game?
"The message is we have to execute better. We have to do it with more consistency. That is where we have taken our approach. There have been times where we have done some good things but we haven't been consistent enough in doing that. That's what we have to learn to do – be more consistent."
What do you think has made the Saints running game been more successful these past two weeks?
"I think just their willingness and wanting to run it and they have stuck with it. I think Chris Ivory gives them something as far as a powerful runner. He is a guy that is really hard to get down. When I look at them, they have averaged over four yards a carry. I think it's more of a point of just staying with it and continuing to run it."
How has your time been with the Raiders so far?
I like where I am at. I like this organization. I like what Mark Davis is doing. I like what Reggie McKenzie is doing. We are doing things a little bit different than what has been done around here but I am happy where I am at."
Has Jimmy Graham become even more difficult to defend this year?
"Well I think that really started last year. He is an exceptional talent. He's big and can go up and catch the ball. He is a physical receiver. I think the Saints do as good of a job as anybody of finding out what their personnel can do and putting those guys in those positions and giving them a chance to be successful. There are a lot of guys that they use exceptionally well."
Is one of your goals this week not to give up any dunks?
"(laughter) the goal this week is to not give up any touchdowns at all. We understand what they are trying to do as well as what anybody else understands that but we have to go out and execute. They do a tremendous job of executing their offense."
What do you think about Jabari Greer?
"I think the world of Jabari. I think he is a very good cover corner. He did a lot of good things while I was there. Jabari is a good player."
Oakland Raiders Quarterback Carson Palmer Conference Call With New Orleans Media Wednesday, November 14, 2012
What advantage does having very fast wide receivers in your arsenal give you in the passing game?
"Obviously, having speed on the field is always a good thing to have as long as you have controlled speed. You don't want a bunch of track guys that run (with) straight line speed but can't cut and get in and out of breaks. We have a good combination of guys with speed and guys that can run routes, get in and out of the top of a break and come downhill and attack the ball. I think it's a good combination that we have of guys that know how to run routes but also when they have an opportunity to run a straight line route can run by a lot of corners in this league."
How has Dennis Allen handled his first year as a head coach considering he was in New Orleans as a defensive backs coach just two years ago?
"I think he's great. I think he's great coming in the door and been great so far but he's only going to get better too. Obviously, anybody's first crack at a head (coaching) job there is going to be some growing pains. He has come in and set the tone for what he expects for this team; the way you prepare, the way you play and the way you conduct yourself on and off the field. He has a very clear plan. I'm not surprised at all that he is one of the youngest head coaches, if not the youngest head coach, in the league because he is going to be a great one for a long time."
Does he talk about his time in New Orleans with you guys?
"A little bit. It's been a while. Obviously rosters change fast in the NFL. There are some players that are there that, when he was there, I'm sure he's got good relationships with. There has been quite a bit of turnover, just like on every team. He gave us some insight on a handful of players and for the most part there are a lot of new guys over there."
Does he talk about how he did things here under Sean Payton? Does he tell you any stories or anything like that?
"No. For the most part, players don't want to hear about how great other places are. I think everybody on our team understands that's a great organization and they've won a lot of football games, a ton of football games…"
Growing up in California, how did you view the Raiders? When you joined the organization, how much of your view became reality?
"The Raiders were here for a little bit. I actually didn't live my whole life in California. I lived in Fresno up in central, northern California and Colorado and kind of bounced around quite a bit as a kid. I really wasn't too familiar with the Raiders other just general knowledge. It wasn't like I was growing up going to training camp practices. I never went to any Raider football games or anything like that growing up. I didn't know a ton but when I got to high school I had moved back to California and lived here and knew a lot about the history, the tradition and the winning. I didn't really know what to expect because I came at such a weird time, half-way through the year, and there were a lot of changes going on. Al Davis had just passed. They pretty much fired everybody after that season. I didn't really know what to expect and it was kind of a whirlwind. Since Coach Allen has come in and since Reggie McKenzie, the GM (General Manager), has come in it's been such a pleasant surprise. Everything is handled first class here. They treat players like men. They do a great job preparing us to play, preparing us for life away from football, (life) outside of the facility, getting family settled and kids in school. It's just a very first class organization, it's exciting to be a part of."
What are some of the things that Dennis Allen brought on the field that weren't there last year?
"He is kind of old school. He is a young guy but he's old school discipline-wise. We had a huge issue with penalties and that was the first thing he brought in. We have been really good, we started off the year in the top of the league as far as penalties were concerned. We have gotten away from that a little bit with some mental mistakes but that was one of the first things. It's just really installing discipline and teaching us discipline and showing us discipline. That part has been great and guys really handled that well. Obviously we're not where we want to be with wins and losses but he has come in and really try to rub off some of his old school ways that he was brought up playing the game which is you have to be disciplined on the field and you have to be disciplined off of it. If you're not disciplined, you're not going to play."
Does he ever use the phrase 'Formula for Winning'?
"Yeah, he talks about that a lot. The turnover differential in games, the explosive play differential in games, things like time of possession and I'm sure there are a lot of things that he may have picked up along the way from Sean Payton. I'm sure he's used some of the things he really liked from John Fox. You can tell he has tremendous respect for the organization you guys are a part of over there and tremendous respect for Sean Payton. He doesn't talk about it a lot but you can just tell by some the things he says every once in a while, his admiration for his time there and his relationship with Coach (Sean) Payton."
After last week's game, is there an increased sense of urgency this week about getting the season back on course?
"Every week is a big one. We're 3-6 and we know in order to get to the playoffs we have to win ten games. We have seven games left and we can't drop another one. There is a tremendous amount of urgency and it started with Coach Allen after our loss to Baltimore. We're an older team, we understand where we are and the point of the season we're in. We understand what we're up against, a very hot team in a very similar situation. We know we have to play our best football to win this game."