Got some time on the phone today with Raiders coach Dennis Allen, asking him about getting his program off the ground in the restricted era of the new CBA, his impressions of how the first week is going in the strength and conditioning phase, as well as his reaction to what’s going on with the Saints, where he was the defensive backs coach for a Super Bowl champion:
Q: With new CBA, offseason is uncharted territory, how did you go implementing your program?
Allen: coming into this thing, I’ve kind of accumulated some knowledge over the year, being in Atlanta, seeing how Dan Reeves did it and how Jim Mora did it, going to New Orleans, seeing how Sean Payton did it, last year, getting a chance to see how John Fox did it. I’ve kind of taken some ideas from everything that we’ve done in the past and tried to incorporate that into what we’re going to do this year. Now obviously with the new offseason rules, it makes that even more of a challenge. As I’ve gone through this I’ve had an opportunity, not anybody in particular,necessarily, but reach out to a few coaches both new coaches, head coaches in the NFL, and also coaches that have been in the league and kind of ask their opinion on how they’ve done things. And obviously we’ve spent a lot of time with our people here, with Dan Ventrelle, with Tom Delaney, as well as myself and the coordinators trying to sort through everything and make sure we’re following all the rules of the new CBA.
Q: The new regime of the Raiders, players and coaches, met for the first time this week, how would you characterize the first meeting? Was there a mission statement, or more of a simple laying out of what your plan is for this camp?
Allen: It was a little bit of a combination of all that, and I think what we tried to do is make sure we declared the expectations of the players, and really what type of players that we’re looking for to build the team that we want to become. It was more of an information session for them, to let them know, from a coaching standpoint, what we’re looking for.
Q: During this first phase, only strength and conditioning coach can be on field with players?
Allen: That’s correct.
Q: Plus two hours of meetings allowed per day?
Allen: That’s correct.
Q: Where those meetings scheme-oriented?
Allen: We’re installing offensive and defensive schemes during those meetings. We’re setting the foundation for what are beliefs are, what are core values are, from a defensive standpoint. We’re setting our core values and beliefs from an offensive standpoint as well as getting into the scheme and what we’re going to run.
Q: As far as players being on the film with strength and conditioning coaches, is that stuff filmed and can that film be analyzed?
Allen: It cannot be analyzed. By league rules we have to video, anything that goes on on the field has to be videoed and we have to keep that video into the regular season so in case there’s ever any type of dispute there’s video evidence.
Q: What kind of turnount have you had for this phase?
Allen: I’ve been real pleased with the turnout. It hasn’t been 100 percent but it’s in the 90 something percent range. I’ve been real pleased with it, the guys are really working hard, the strength coaches come up here every day and give me an update on how everybody is doing and I’ve been real pleased with the work we’ve got done so far.
Q: You’re still in the very early stages of getting to know this team, but can you form any impressions at all of what you’ve seen the first few days?
Allen: Well, I think the thing that I would look at with these guys, I would say these guys are eager, they’re eager for change, they’re eager for getting an opportunity to get started, they’re looking forward to a clean slate, and I’ve been pleased with their eagnerness to work.
Q: Are guys like McFadden, Shaughnessy, Ford, that had injury issues last year, are they on site and can they let it rip in terms of conditioning or are they still restricted in some way?
Allen: I can’t necessarily answer that question because I haven’t seen that with my own eyes, but based on the reports that I’m getting, these guys are, if they’re not fully 100 percent they’re pretty close and they’re ready to go.
Q: Now that you’re in the conditioning phase, curious whether the run on hamstring and foot injuries last year was addressed and studied, and have things been implemented to prevent that? Or was it just written off as a fluke during the lockout year with no off-season?
Allen: We don’t look at anything as a fluke around here. We’re always trying to evaluate anything within the program and see if there’s anything we can do to make that better. We’re looking at, OK, if we have a lot of hamstring injuries, what can we do from a strength and conditioning standpoint to correct that? What we do from a chiropractic standpoint to correct that? From a training room standpoint, what can we do? Is there something a field maintenance standpoint we can do? We’re going to look at everything within the organization that we can to try and help our players stay healthy to give us the best chance to win.
Q: Has the bounty issue been addressed already, or do you wait until there’s contact at practice?
Allen: It’s been addressed, it’s going to be something that when we have the whole team together is a better time to address that.
Q: With the ongoing bounty story, does that at all taint the championship you won there and did you have any direct knowledge of the bounty system in place?
Allen: What I’m going to say about it is, No. 1, I’m proud of the success that we were able to have there, and No.2 , I’ve moved on, and I’m really a lot more interested in what’s happening with the Oakland Raiders and trying to prepare ourselves for the upcoming season. What’s happened in the past, I’ve really moved on.