Allen: Things didn't go as planned this season
ALAMEDA -- Raiders coach Dennis Allen broached several topics in his end-of-season media conference Monday. Of course, the main topic was the firing of four assistants -- offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman, offensive line coach Frank Pollack and linebackers coach Johnny Holland. But Allen also spoke of what he wants in a new O.C., if he's tied to the zone-blocking scheme, what he saw out of Terrelle Pryor and was asked about Rolando McClain. Following, then, a transcript of Allen's last media conference of the 2012 season…
ALLEN: I’ll start off and say obviously things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to this season. I’m proud of the guys and the way they fought and battled throughout the year. They continued to compete. They never gave in. I thought there were certain areas in which there were some improvements, especially over the last part of the season. Specifically I thought defensively we made some improvement at the end of the year. It was something for us to build on going forward. Obviously this has been a tough morning. There were some things that I had to do from the standpoint of the coaching staff that I felt like was best for this organization. Sometimes you have to make business decisions. Yesterday’s game, I thought there were some good things in the game. It was great to be able to see Terrelle Pryor. He really did some nice things in the game, showed some improvement and showed that there’s stuff we can work with moving forward with Terrelle Pryor. That was good to see. I thought the red zone offense was an improvement. I thought third down was an improvement. Defensively I thought we played well in the game. We had the one drive that we really extended the drive and gave up some plays. I thought our third-down defense was pretty good in the game. I thought our rushing defense was good in the game in an area that we really needed to improve on over the last four weeks of the season, which I thought we did. I was disappointed in special teams in that we started off the game with the opening kickoff and gave up the surprise or the fake punt, but I thought we responded and continued to battle, and at the end of the game we made a big play there special teams-wise to get the blocked punt and given ourselves a chance to get a touchdown and have an opportunity to kick an onsides kick and potentially win the game.
QUESTION: Why the coaching changes when we heard all along the coaching was fine?
ANSWER: I think what happened is you realize that it wasn’t working. We weren’t getting the production that we needed to and I felt like we needed to make a change.
Q: Does the system not fit the roster here?
A: Listen, I believe the zone scheme running scheme is a productive running scheme. Obviously we didn’t have the success that we needed to have and there were a lot of factors that contributed into that. I’m not tied to a specific system. I’m tied to trying to find out what our players can do really well and try to put them in those positions to give them a chance to have success. I’m looking for production and execution, and I think that’s where we have to be better.
Q: McFadden had much success under previous system, would you look to bring something like that back?
A: I thought there were some good things that were done the year prior as far as what they did, the execution. What I want to do is get the right guy for the job. I’m not tied into the system but I want to make sure that we’re able to be a successful, productive offense. We have to have some rhythm and some explosiveness in our offense.
Q: When did the process start when you began to think about firing the coaches?
A: The evaluation process for everything is continual throughout the year and we’ll continue on into the offseason. It never stops. That was something that we thought about and really were looking at the last part of the season to see if there was progress and changes. At the end of the day I didn’t feel there was enough progress in those areas. Let me say this about those guys: I think all of them, I have the utmost respect for every single one of them. They’re good football coaches. Sometimes circumstances don’t work out. Things don’t work out the way that you want them to. This is one those situations that just didn’t work out. I think those guys will go on and have success at other places.
Q: Other assistants safe?
A: We made four changes and that’s all that I anticipate.
Q: Was it just you and Reggie talking then you talking to the coaches?
Q: What’s your time frame for bringing in next offensive coordinator?
A: I don’t have a time frame for getting somebody in. I want to make sure we get the right guy, and however long that takes for us to get the right guy, that’s how long that that takes. We’ve got to identify the potential candidates. We’ll start with that process and we’ll try to identify the guys that we think are best for this job. We’ll try to start the process as soon as we can and we’ll go until we get the right guy.
Q: Would you be comfortable with a former head coach?
A: I’ll be comfortable with a guy I feel like gives us the best chance to be successful in all areas.
Q: Hired late in calendar last year, how much easier picking staff with more time, candidates?
A: We’re getting a little bit of a jump start in the process. Again, there’s specific rules within the NFL and people under contract, and sometimes you can’t get everybody that you try to get. We’ll see how that process goes.
Q: With all coaches losing jobs today, a lot of people available with staff turnover.
A: I think there’s going to be a significant pool of guys to look at. I’ve been in my office all day, talking to coaches and players so I really haven’t followed exactly what’s happen so I don’t know exactly what’s gone on.
Q: Look at Al Saunders?
A: I think we’re going to look at all the possible options.
Q: Was he a guy you talked to last time, was he involved in the process?
A: He was one of the first guys that I communicated with.
Q: Was Carson adaptable to this system of offense?
A: I think Carson was adaptable to the system. I think Carson can fit in any system that you want to run.
Q: Long-term prognosis on Palmer’s health?
A: To my knowledge, there’s no long-term implications. To my knowledge, he’s going to make a full recovery and be fine.
Q: By the time you go to a minicamp?
A: That’s my understanding.
Q: Improvement last month, how much a factor in keeping Tarver and most of defensive staff?
A: Listen, I was pleased with where Jason was. I think J.T. does a good job for us. I think he’s a very smart football coach. I think he, like all of us, he’s the first time in that position, and so we all go through a learning curve in that position and I think that’s something we’ve looked at throughout this organization, guys that are the first time doing that particular job, and we’ll grow from it. Again, I said this from the very beginning, I’m not in this for a one-year deal. I’m in this long-term. I’m in this to build this thing the right way. And I’m excited about looking forward to the future and where this organization is going to go.
Q: Watched Pryor, wished you’d used him in red zone?
A: Well, I know this, I know that we had some effectiveness in the red zone and I thought he did a nice job in the red zone, and I think his athleticism brings an extra dimension that makes it difficult on defenses down there. So, yeah, I think his athleticism can help us in the red zone.
Q:You find the way game played out, the team was more dynamic with Pryor?
A: Again, I think his athleticism gives us a unique element at the quarterback position. I thought you saw that in the game the other day. I thought his ability to get outside the pocket and make some things happen gave us a little bit of a spark.
Q: What did you think of the way he threw the ball?
A: There was some inconsistency there in the way that he threw the ball, but again, I thought he made some plays down the field because he was able to buy some time and to move around, and he was able to find open receivers down the field in doing that.
Q: How many players do you look at on this team and say, He’s a core player going forward?
A: You know, I don’t know what that number is. I do know that we have some guys that are going to be the core of what we want and the type of players that we want. I also know that we’ve got some work to do this offseason to get more of those types of players. I think we have a clear idea of what type of player that we’re looking for in building this team for the future.
Q: McFadden, struggling, still one of core guys?
A: I like Darren. I think he’s a good running back, I think he’s an explosive player and I’m hoping that he can continue to produce in the future.
Q: Have you and Reggie begun to identify existing free agents you want to keep?
Allen: We’ve identified those guys that we’re trying to get back and we’re in the process. How long that process takes, at the end of the day Reggie will handle that part of it, but we’ve met a lot over the last few weeks and where we’re going as an organization and what we’re looking to do. I think we’ve got a clear plan of what we’re trying to get done.
Q: Five guys, six guys, how many you want to bring back?
A: I’m not getting into the number.
Q: How about names, then?
A: I’m not getting into the names.
Q: Interest in coaching senior bowl?
A: That’s obviously something that we would consider if we’re given that opportunity. That’s something that Reggie and I have talked about. Really nothing has been done in that regard yet.
Q: In what ways is this roster closer to what you want than when you took over?
A: I think we began to identity ourselves and develop an identity defensively of kind of what we want to become and how we want to play the game. I think our guys really understand what they’re going to be accountable for and the things we’re looking for in a football team and the things we’re looking for in players. I think they also understand that we have to develop that leadership in the locker room that will allow us to sustain success over a long period of time. This is a players game. Players make plays and the best teams are able at some point in time to hand the keys to the car over to the players and they’re able to run the program the way it needs to be run. We’re not at that point yet but we’re developing that every day.
Q: What did you learn about yourself and offense?
A: I learned we have to score points. I think overall what I learned is there’s a lot of decisions that go into being the head football coach and a lot of things you’re in charge of and accountable to. I also learned there’s a lot of tough decisions you have to make and you got to make the decisions that you think are best for the football team no matter how popular or unpopular those decisions may be and regardless of personal feelings. This is a business and we have to make business decisions. I think every day I get an opportunity to coach this football team I learn a little bit more about the team, I learn a little bit more about myself and I learn a little bit more about what we have to do to be successful moving forward.
Q: You talked about it taking time to learn offense this year, hesitant to change again?
A: Obviously I believe in continuity. I think that’s the way you’re able to sustain success in this league is through continuity. But I also know that at some point we’re looking for the results and we have to have the results. This is a win-now business no matter how much patience we’re looking for. This is a win-now business and that’s what we’re paid to do and we have to do that. Continuity I believe is important but we have to be able to put in a new offense, special teams schemes and we’ve got to be able to do that in a timely manner. We’re going to play the season so we have to be ready to go.
Q: Are you better than record?
A: Listen, at the end the day you are who you are. You are what your record says you are. Do I think we can play better and have enough talent on this team to be better than we were? Yeah. We feel short in that area. But that’s the past. I’m looking toward the future. We’re looking to build this team the right way. We’re going to get the right players, we’re going to get the right coaches and we’re going to build this organization the way it’s supposed to be done and we’re going to get back to the glory days of the Oakland Raiders.
Q: In retrospect should you have left offense in place?
A: I’m not going to look back and try to say what coulda, shoulda, woulda been. I’m looking forward to what we need to do to try to get this team better in the future.
Q: Problems with return game?
A: I think not having Jacoby back there hurt us. Obviously he’s an explosive factor back there. I think it’s a combination just like I talked about in the run game. It’s a combination of the scheme, the blocking, as well as the returners. That’s an area we have to look to improve on as we move forward.
Q: Plans for Rolando?
A: I think we’re going to have to let that play out as the offseason goes along. Right now he’s part of this football team. There’s been no move made there and we’ll see how the offseason goes.
Q: How much did injuries hurt you?
A: It’s a factor. I don’t think there’s any denying that injuries are a factor in pro football. I think we said going into the season that we felt like we had the front line players but we were limited as far as the depth was concerned. I think that was a factor. Again, this is a bottom line business. It’s a next man up philosophy and we have to get the job done. As we move forward into next year that’s what our charge is. Our charge is to get the job done and we need to win.