Allen declares 'new day' in Raiders history


Allen declares 'new day' in Raiders history

ALAMEDA -- New Raiders coach Dennis Allen wasted little time declaring that the future is now, saying at his introductory news conference Monday that Oakland has "playoff-level talent" to compete for a championship.

"This is a new day in Oakland Raiders football. We're progressing forward. And we're going to set our own goals and aspirations and things that we want to try and get accomplished within the organization," Allen said.

"This organization is committed to winning. Mr. Davis used to say "commitment to excellence" and we are committed to excellence within this organization."

Allen takes over a franchise that has not had a winning record or made the playoffs for nine straight seasons. he is Oakland's seventh head coach since 2003. Hue Jackson was fired earlier this month after one 8-8 season.

Allen spoke of the balance between intensity and discipline, a feature that was absent in the 2011 season, when the Raiders set an NFL record for penalties and yards penalized in a single season.

"We are going to put a team out there that is going to play with passion, that is going to play with emotion, that is going to play with discipline, that is going to play the game the right way -- with a respect for the game and a respect for the people who played the game before them," Allen said.

"The vision for the future of the Oakland Raiders is going to be just that -- it's going to be a tough, smart, disciplined, committed football team.

"See, you don't win football games in the National Football League by talent alone. There are a lot of other things that are a part of that. And those are the things that we're going to develop, and those are the things that we are going to preach on a day to day basis to our players.

"We do have talented players. We have enough talent in our team to compete for a championship. And that's what our goal is going to be -- every year."

Allen, who turns 40 on Sept. 22, is the youngest head coach in the NFL, six months and one week younger than Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin. Allen is also the first defensive-minded head coach the Raiders have had since John Madden was promoted from linebackers coach in 1969.

Allen is the Raiders' eighth head coach since 2002, when Jon Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay, and trailing in the wakes of Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson. Only Cable lasted more than two seasons under the late Al Davis, and 12 games were as an interim coach after Kiffin was fired.In his lone year as the Broncos' defensive coordinator -- his first year as a D.C. at any level, really -- Allen improved Denver's defense from last in the 32-team NFL in 2010, when it gave up 390.8 yards per game, to No. 20 overall, surrendering 357.8 per game (the Raiders were 29th this past season with a 387.6-yards average).Denver was No. 18 against the pass, while the Raiders were 27th, and the Broncos were 10th in sacks, with 41, while the Raiders were tied for 15th with 39 sacks. But Denver only had half of the Raiders' 18 interceptions.The Broncos also ranked 24th in points allowed (390), while the Raiders were 29th (433).Perhaps most relevant, however, is Allen's purported penchant for military-like discipline after the Raiders set single-season standards for penalties (163) and penalty yardage (1,358) last season. The Broncos, meanwhile, were flagged 101 times for 842 yards en route to winning the AFC West with an 8-8 record.

LB Smith praises Raiders' turnover ratio, but wants much more

LB Smith praises Raiders' turnover ratio, but wants much more

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders defense gave up 344 yards Sunday while beating the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That sum’s a season low, still way too many for Malcolm Smith. The Raiders weakside linebacker has higher standards, even after one of two solid defensive efforts in seven games.

“That’s still a lot of yards,” Smith said. “We’re not where we want to be.”

Just because Sunday was better doesn’t mean it’s good enough. The Raiders defense ranks last in yards allowed and 22nd in scoring defense at 25.6 points per game.

There’s a main reason why the Raiders aren’t dead last in both categories. Takeaways.

The Raiders have plundered the opposition this season 13 times in seven games. Special teams got one Sunday on a muffed punt, but the defense has been incredibly active stealing possession.

Reggie Nelson has a nose for the ball, with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Sean Smith and David Amerson have two picks each and Bruce Irvin leads the league with four forced fumbles.

Turnovers make all those yards allowed easy to stomach, and has kept the Raiders in several close games. The force big mistakes and don’t make many, proven with a plus-eight turnover ratio ranked No. 3 overall.

“It’s given us a chance to win some games, where you could just look at other statistics and say we wouldn’t have a chance.” Smith said. “That’s what the game is about, and us finding ways to compete. Hopefully we stay after it that way.”

The Raiders have stayed after it in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on just 50 percent of opponent trips inside their 20-yard line.

While big plays have brought wins and positivity to the defense, the season’s first half has been difficult for Raiders expecting more.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Smith said. “You come into the year with all these aspirations and things you want to do. When it doesn’t go your way you have to stay after it, keep putting the work in and know it’s not going to be wasted. Hopefully we’re making strides and those improvements will show on Sundays.”

The Raiders believe the defense is close to being good, and has done a solid job masking issues with takeaways and timely production.

“Our team has done a great job of competing to win games,” Smith said. “If we keep doing that, everything will be fine.”

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders were certainly happy they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars into submission. They jumped out to a strong halftime lead, played smart complimentary football and, at 33-16, ended up with a large margin of victory.

All, however, was not right with the world.

Derek Carr lamented settling for too many field goals. Latavius Murray wanted more efficiency from his runs. Defensive players saw progress in several deficient areas, still seeking greater cohesion and consistency.

[BAIR: Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' 33-16 win over Jaguars]

Sunday’s big victory over lowly Jacksonville was not a sign they've arrived. It was proof these Raiders remain a work in progress.

Records normally suffer with much to correct. These Raiders are 5-2, and feel better football’s ahead.

“That’s what is great about this team is that we haven’t played our best yet,” Murray said. “That’s a good feeling moving forward, knowing there are things you can get better at and you’re still 5-2.”

Winning while fixing things; that’s a coach’s dream. It’s also easier when players know it, that egos don’t expand and confidence doesn’t become arrogance.

“I like that part. I like the fact that we recognize it,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m certainly going to point it out. There are things that we have to do better. I think it’s healthy.

“You should enjoy the wins. You should feel good about the success. Take pride in it. We worked hard for it, but to have a healthy respect for what’s coming and the need to play better and the need to continue to grow as a football team as we go throughout the year. That’s a mature way to look at it, and I’m very pleased about that with a younger team.”

The Raiders are a confident bunch and have survived several games on guts, guile and turnovers -- a recipe for success with inconsistent production.

The Raiders defense believes it made strides in the Jaguars win, though there’s significant work remaining to be a decent defense. With the offense rolling, that’s all the Raiders need to be a top team. Defenders aren’t striving for decent. They want more, and believe that realizing potential could put them in position for a playoff push.

“This team has so much talent, with good coaches and good players,” cornerback David Amerson said. “The sky’s the limit. Once we all start clicking, we can go out there and beat teams 30-0. Once we get to that point, that’s when we can look towards the playoffs and things like that. We have just as much talent as any team in the league.”