HENDERSON, Nev.--The Las Vegas Raiders (3-7) are back in the win column, and looking ahead to invading Seattle this weekend.
Moments ago, Josh McDaniels talked about the state of the franchise and looked ahead to the Seahawks this weekend.
You can watch the entire press conference below, and read the transcript as well:
Head Coach Josh McDaniels
Opening Statement: “So, we're on to Seattle. We had an opportunity to quickly review a few things from the Denver game this morning with the guys, since we gave them Monday off. Now we're deep into the preparation for the Seahawks. It's a good football team, and Pete [Carroll] and John [Schneider] have always been able to bring in young players and develop them quickly and put them in there. They've played more young players than any team in the league this year, and they're all making an impact. The tackles, the back, the corners on the secondary. So, some new faces for us. We don't know this team very well, so our team is hard at work in terms of learning the personnel, the scheme, the challenges they present in all three phases. And then obviously, going out there and playing in Seattle, it's always a different atmosphere. It's a very challenging place to play. So, a lot of hard work ahead of us here."
Q: There was an assumption that Seattle was in a rebuild mode and they were playing for down the road. But obviously, Pete Carroll has got them playing pretty well. Are you surprised at all about where they are right now?
Coach McDaniels: “Not really. Every time I've had a chance to compete against Coach Carroll's teams, number one, they play really hard. Number two, they always have personnel that fits their system and their scheme almost perfectly. I mean, going back years. I've competed against him a number of times. They do a great job of putting players on the team who fit what they want to do. And so, when they change from people who everybody knows to somebody else who maybe isn't as well known, I don't think they look at it like: ‘Oh, man, we've got to take two steps back.’ I think they've done a good job of evaluating the players they're putting on the roster, and those players are ready to take over when it's their time. And so, I see that again. I can't say enough about what Geno [Smith] has been able to do. I've competed against him a number of times too and then you see him having a fantastic year. Great decisions, accurate with the ball, completed at higher percentage than anybody in the league, and he's got good players to distribute it to. Just looks in such comfort, knows where he's going with the football all the time, running their offense very well. And their defense, is typical Pete's defense. After the ball on every play, do a great job of trying to get it off you. Ball security is going to be paramount again this week. But their style, the way they play, how aggressive they are, it's really been the same every time I've watched them and gotten ready to compete against them. It looks like the same thing."
Q: Is there a decision on if Nate Hobbs will be back?
Coach McDaniels: “He'll be back working today. And then we obviously would have to make the decision to pull them up at the end."
Q: Can a win slow things down a little bit? Can it let your head get up and get a breath and maybe slow down people to be able to continue to grow?
Coach McDaniels: “I don't know if I'd use that phrasing. I would just say, it reiterates that when we do things the right way, we have enough to have success. And so, still we haven't played a perfect game, we still haven't coached a perfect game, and there are a lot of things we can do better. But I think it’s always a great opportunity also to learn when you win and be critical of the things maybe you could have done better. And I think our team is really starting to respond to that. It tastes a little better when you win then after you lose a game. I think our attitude and approach has been great, honestly, regardless of the outcome of the prior game. I look forward to seeing how our team responds this week."
Q: What do you have to see from Kolton Miller for him to be able to get back out there? Also, what did you think about Thayer Munford’s performance?
Coach McDaniels: “Kolton, it's just basically when he's able to roll, you know what I mean? Whenever he's able to do it, and not set himself back, then I think he'll be able to be back out there. And again, we'll see how this week goes. It'll be interesting to see how the next few days go for him. He's working really hard to get back out there as soon as he can. And Thayer manned the right side the whole game. And again, like all young players do, there's a lot of good plays, and then there's some plays to learn from. So, I thought he acquitted himself well. There was this chunk of plays where [I thought]: 'OK, that's how you're going to get better.' You see the result of them, you see what you could have done better from a technique perspective, and then work like hell to get it right this week in practice and improve as the season goes. But those reps are huge; to play on the road, in a division game, against a good team, with a good pass rush, physical front. To go out there and do that, and realize: 'OK, I belong here and now I have an opportunity to improve myself from that performance.' I think Thayer can take a lot from it.”
Q: What have you seen from Jakob Johnson this year? I know he's part of your scheme, but what about the fullback entices you to have one and to make it part of what you do?
Coach McDaniels: “Jak is an unselfish guy, he's a great teammate. He's physical, tough. We talked about being a tough team, and Jak adds that element, a physicality to our offense and to our special teams. He's a tireless worker, he'll do anything the team needs. Nobody ever talks about the fullback a whole lot, so he doesn't get a lot of glory. But J.J. [Josh Jacobs] would talk about him a lot, and I think the offensive line would talk about him a lot because of the things that he does. He's kind of an unsung hero in terms of providing opportunities for the backs to run, helping in protection, just doing a lot of the dirty work that fullbacks do, quite honestly. And so, I think teams don't really use a fullback much anymore. There are very few teams in the league that we see now that do that and employ one. So, it's kind of like having a different style for the opponent to have to get ready for in a quick week and have to learn how to fit two-back runs and deal with those kinds of things that I would say generally are becoming kind of outdated in the league. But if you have a good one, and we can be productive in that personnel grouping, I've always been a believer in it. And that's why Jak is here."
Q: You've talked about the special teams getting better as the year has gone on. It looks like it's gotten better coverage wise and return wise. What are the challenges of that from a year-to-year basis, when rosters turnover, especially on that part of it? Is it more concepts or personnel just improving?
Coach McDaniels: “I would say it's the commitment to those players who are just as valuable as the players on either side of the ball, offensively or defensively. And so, when you make selections in the draft or you sign people in free agency -- I mean, a few of the first guys we were able to sign in free agency were Mack Hollins and Brandon Bolden. And immediately you feel like: 'OK, we're making some progress in the kicking game.' And I would say the same thing about a handful of the guys who we got after the draft in college free agency. Look, if you put enough effort into it, and you put enough commitment, then it's just one of the three (phases), it's not the third. And so, I mean, I don't know how everybody else does it, I just know how we're going to try to do it. We're going to treat it like it's just as important as anything else, offensively or defensively. And so, I hope there's not a big changeover next year. I mean, a lot of the guys that I would say are helping us improve in the kicking game -- [Curtis] Bolton, Luke Masterson, Darien Butler, Ameer Abdullah, Brandon Bolden -- there are a number of guys who are helping us in that phase, the kickers, the snapper.
Again, you just have to make a commitment to that phase of the game being very important, which obviously it is. And so, I think what's interesting and fun for us to see, is there's a core group of guys who are starting to create an identity for themselves, and they have this attitude each week like they're excited for the challenge, which is going to be a huge one this week in Seattle. That's a very good unit there, and they do a great job of coaching it, and they've got good specialists and good returner. So, I just think that the entire approach toward special teams is you've got to be consistent with it, and that's what we're going to do."
Q: On Sunday, Foster Moreau and Keelan Cole and Tyler Hall had key plays. What's the key to getting production out of role players in specific spots moving forward?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, I think you give them opportunities, and I think you keep doing things in practice that allow them to get more comfortable when their number is called during the course of the game. We work with all our players every week. It's not just these are the guys who are playing, and these are the guys who are on the scout team. The scout team guys get coached just as much as the other guys do. And so, the point of that is that this is such a league of attrition, that eventually those guys are going to end up playing anyway. I mean, that's why they're here. We don't have anybody here who we don't like and don't feel like we could have an opportunity to win with. And so, Tyler's worked really hard in practice. He's given us fits on offense, and so he's earned his opportunity to go in there and compete and play. The role guys, whether it's Keelan or Foster, Ameer [Abdullah], they all show up and do things during the course of the game that that help us win. Just continue to coach the entire roster; practice squad, guys who happen to be inactive at one point or another. We feel like at some point, they're going to be active and we're going to need them, so we put as much time and energy into the 69th player as we do the number one player, and I think those guys were all ready when their number was called on Sunday.”
Q: We all know about the sacks you guys had on Sunday, and the day Maxx Crosby had, but it seemed like you were getting pressure more consistently on a down-to-down basis. Did you see that? And how do you build on that progress?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, I thought we did. We executed a few things better in the pass rush. I'd say particularly on third down, that allowed us to create a little bit of pressure there and either forced him out of the pocket, or in a few cases we got to him. Look, that’s time on task. That's comfort level with one another. We talked about Jerry [Tillery] last week, and I hope that he's going to get more comfortable this week and then going forward as well. So, just guys being able to go in there and help somebody else get to the middle of the pocket and get to the passer. It's not all just four guys working on their own and so, there's a lot of detail, a lot of time and effort put into it. Somebody's got to go take one for the team sometimes so somebody else can come free. That's just the nature of pass rush and so I thought our guys made some strides there last week.”
Q: What are you going to do this week in preparation for the conditions in Seattle, both the noise level but also the anticipated wet weather?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, the noise will be the same as we've done, I'd say, with Kansas City and a handful of other places, Denver, where we've had certainly loud music or the airplane runway, where you can't hear anything out there when we're on offense or in the kicking units. So, we'll simulate that same thing. And when you're going from a climate like this, this is my first time doing this. So, this is the unique experience where we really haven't had any wet weather days, and so you're going to potentially play in it. So, we'll simulate that as well. I mean, whether that's ball handling, quarterback-center exchanges, the snapping to the to the specialists, throwing and catching the ball with a little moisture on it, wet ball, whatever it is; the best we can. I mean, we're not going to have the sprinkler system on when we're practicing, but we'll do as much as we can to try to simulate some of the things that I think our guys don't have as much repetition at the best we can do right now, unless we go try to find a rainy place and go spend the week there. So, we're going to do everything we can do to prepare for that.”
Q: What is it in general that makes it so difficult to play in Seattle, besides like the noise and sometimes weather conditions?
Coach McDaniels: “The noise and the weather. Well, I would say this, the team. People say, why was it hard to play against some of the great teams in the 70s, 80s, because they're pretty good. And I think every time that I've been there with Pete [Carroll], and even before then, they have been so well-coached, really good players. Combine that with the atmosphere that you're going to play in, which is as noisy as any state. I'd say that and Kansas City, probably as noisy as you get. And then whatever the weather is, the weather is. We can't control that. But I think the team, the way they're coached, how well they're coached, how well they perform and do their jobs, then combine that with the noise level, that makes communication tougher. So, that's really what I attribute it to.”
Q: You're a guy of process, you stay on the same schedule, but when you have a holiday in the middle of your week and these guys do have families and you're going to give them some family time, how do you handle that?
Coach McDaniels: "You can always, adjust it a little bit. The staff did a good job. Fortunately, we won, so we were able to do a victory Monday. So, the staff got a little further ahead on Monday and Tuesday. We'll spend a little bit more time today after we're done with our practice today of actually going ahead and getting ahead for tomorrow as opposed to what we would normally do, which is just watch the film and then the players could go and then we would come in and restart our day tomorrow. We're going to get a good chunk of that done today. So, they'll come in early tomorrow, we'll meet quickly. I think the atmosphere on Thanksgiving Day has always been great, when you're coaching and playing football. I mean, it's such a national pastime really to watch football on this day, but when you actually get to coach it or play it, even if it's just the practice part of it, it just is a great feeling, a lot of energy. So, we'll be ahead tomorrow, we'll get them in quick, we'll get out on the practice field much earlier than normal, and then we'll get them out of here and let them spend the day with their families."
Q: There's no question that Josh Jacobs has earned the carries you've given him. You talked the other day about how he doesn't want to come out and he just keeps grinding away. But you've got a couple of running backs that you drafted, some younger guys. Do they need game action to develop to where you guys want them to be?
Coach McDaniels: "I mean, they certainly obviously could benefit from action in the games. It's just that I'm picking my poison, you know what I mean? And I'm having a hard time going away from the guy with the hot hand. So, it is what it is. I'm very happy with the guys behind. They're working really hard, and again, that's kind of the nature of the position honestly. Seattle is really much the same with Kenneth [Walker III]. I mean, he's getting the lion's share of the carries now that [Rashaad] Penny is out. It is what it is. Running backs, if you've got a guy that's pretty special, you let him play and let him do his thing, and when he needs a break, he takes break. And again, JJ [Josh Jacobs] wasn't in there the whole time. Ameer [Abdullah] was in there plenty, and it's like I said, there's some of that too. but I'm a little bit, like I said not hesitant, but I'm just so happy with what he's doing, and I think he's in such a good rhythm right now that let's ride it and we'll see. When he needs a break, he'll let us know."
Q: Zamir White, this was the first game he was inactive. Was it just purely football there?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, I mean he and Brittain [Brown] have been working really hard, and again it kind of goes to the question about hadn't really got a ton of carries yet. So, we gave Brittain an opportunity in the kicking game too. He and Zamir [White] have both been competing in basically very similar roles. That was basically what it was, and we've stressed that same thing the entire season. So, we're going to continue to let them do that. I think it's healthy for both of them."
Q: This holiday being ingrained with football of course; do you have any favorite football memories from Thanksgiving?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah. I mean, I've had a chance to play a couple times on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, we won I think all of them. That has always been something that I think until you do it, until you have a home game on Thanksgiving, you don't really know kind of what it's like. But I've always felt like the stadium on a Thanksgiving Day, there's a lot of people who are really happy to be there and thankful that they have an opportunity to do that. Being able to coach and play football on Thanksgiving, whether it's practices or games, I think it's just a blessing because we're so lucky we get to do this for a living. Our whole country tunes in and wants to watch the games that are on Thanksgiving Day. How lucky are we that we get to come here and do this before we actually go get to celebrate the rest of the day with our families."
The Raiders' game on Sunday is in Seattle and kicks off at 4:05 p.m. EST/1:05 p.m. PST. You can see that game on CBS.
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