There were some thoughts out there that maybe the Oakland Raiders were a sleeper team to think about in the AFC. The West Division appeared to be a little bit up in the air and the Raiders brought back Carson Palmer, an improving group of receivers and dynamic running back Darren McFadden to go with new head coach Dennis Allen.
After two weeks, those expectations have been tempered, at least on the outside. Oakland lost fell to San Diego on Monday Night Football in Week 1 and rebounded with a debacle of a loss to Miami in Week 2. Turning that around will be tough this weekend, as well, as the Raiders host the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Dennis Allen joined 97.5 The Game in San Francisco with The Drive to discuss his team’s mentality heading into last week’s loss, what cost them that game, Carson Palmer’s play overall, the expectations heading into the season and now, if he thinks this team will be resilient and what it has to do to beat Pittsburgh.
Did you feel the team was ready to roll against Miami last week?:
“Absolutely. I thought we were ready to play the game. I thought we were prepared to play the game. I think, when you look at how the first half played out, obviously passing game-wise, we were able to get some explosive passes down the field. And defensively, we let them drive down the field on the first drive, but after that I believe it was six straight possessions where they had to punt or downed it at the end of the half. I thought the first half went pretty well, but there in the third quarter, we lost momentum and couldn’t get it back. Once they got the ball on our 44-yard line and Reggie broke the tackles on third-and-one, that’s where I kind of felt like it changed the momentum of the game.”
If there’s a takeaway in terms of what cost you the victory, what was it?:
“I think at the end of the day it came down to being able to finish making the tackles when you have the opportunity to make the tackles. … Field position was a critical factor in the game. We started a bunch of drives back on our end of the field, which causes our offense to have to go the long, hard way.”
Carson Palmer’s numbers were good, but how would you rate his play overall?:
“I would say this: Yes, there were some plays that we left out on the field. Obviously there was a couple plays where we had an opportunity to get the ball down the field in the passing game and we weren’t able to do that. I wouldn’t say those were hollow numbers. What I would say is we’ve got to, as a team, we’ve got to be able to finish off drives. We’ve got to be able to put points on the board. And we’re not really concerned with the statistics. And Carson understands that and that’s not what Carson’s about. Carson’s about trying to win games.”
Were the fans and media a bit over-zealous when it came to predicting how fast you could turn this into a consistent, winning team?:
“I don’t think that it’s any surprise what the expectations are. I think we all have expectations of winning football games. That’s what we do this for; that’s what this profession is all about. But we look the daily process of trying to get this team better on a daily basis and we’ve got to keep improving as the year goes on. And we’ll count the wins and losses up at the end of the year and not worry so much about what that says right now.”
Do you get the sense that this is going to be a resilient team?:
“I don’t think there’s any question that this team is fully invested. And we’ve got to continue to work, to play the type of football that we want to play, and to play the brand of football we want to play. Obviously we’re not where we would hope to be at this point in the season, but it’s early in the season.”
What is the one thing you most want to see your team execute against Pittsburgh?:
“I want to see us execute on third down, offensively and defensively. We’ve got to do a better job on third down. We’ve got to be able to make some third-down conversions on offense and we’ve got to get off the field on third down on defense and then we’ll get the time of possession in our favor.”