By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 at 2:51 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Coach Dennis Allen promised a thorough evaluation of his team over the next two weeks. That process will take him and his coaching staff from A to Z, Allen said.
As of now, the process is somewhere in the middle, Allen said. Now that the players are off for the next four days, the process kicks into overdrive.
“The process has begun,” Allen said. “We’re going to continue to evaluate it. The players are going to be off but the coaches are still going to have some time to work. We’ll continue to look at every phase of what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, who’s doing it and we’re going to put the play together that we feel like gives us the best opportunity to win.”
The Raiders return to practice Monday in preparation for their next game, Oct. 14 against the Atlanta Falcons.
Quarterback Carson Palmer said the players were instructed to get some rest physically but to keep working mentally. In short, that means studying the video tape given them by their coaches.
“That’s something coach really emphasized,” Palmer said. “You can go one of two ways. You can say, ‘Screw it, I’m going to Vegas and party for four days,’ and that’s not what this team is about. Most of these guys are sticking around, are going to come in and work out.”
Defensive tackle Richard Seymour talked Monday about the need for players to have fun. He said players tend to take losses too hard and lose sight of the fun aspect of the game.
“That isn’t the way the game is played,” Seymour said. “We’re playing a game and we’re very fortunate and blessed to do it. We have to go out and play it as such. As you get down and things get tough, you can’t go into the tank. A man has to come out and have to battle and have to fight and you have to have fun doing it. It’s tough when you have to get it back on track.”
That’s all well and good, Allen said, but there’s a fine line that needs to be walked.
“There’s fun and there’s a sense of purpose,” Allen said. “It’s a game, and you’re supposed to have fun playing the game, but it’s also a business and we have a job to do. Our guys realize that. Nobody takes it any harder than the coaches and players in this organization. We understand that we have a job to do. We understand what’s at stake and we take that job seriously.”
– Third-down conversions and third-down stops. The Raiders struggled in both areas, for the most part, in all four games.
Hence, Allen and his coaching staff are harping on the importance of turning third-down plays into first downs on offense and preventing opposing offenses from converting so many third-down plays into first downs.
“That’s been a big focus for us this week,” Allen said. “It will continue to be a big focus for us. We have to find ways to convert on third down and get off the field on third down defensively.”
The Raiders converted only 1 of 12 third-down plays into first downs against the Broncos last Sunday. Meanwhile, the Broncos netted first downs on 10 of 16 such plays.
Overall, the Raiders converted 27.5 percent of their third-down plays the first four games, while opponents’ success rate reached 53.3 percent.
“It’s been really good to get everybody on the same page and see why certain things we do well work and why certain things that we didn’t do well didn’t work and how we can make adjustments,” Palmer said. “It’s been a good week.”
– People are clamoring for the Raiders to use quarterback Terrelle Pryor in some sort of special package, perhaps along the lines of how the New York Jets use Tim Tebow and the 49ers used Colin Kaepernick against the Jets last Sunday.
Pryor said last week, when asked if anything is in the works, that he isn’t sure when, or if, he might be used in a special package. Allen said Wednesday that how Pryor gets used, if at all, moving forward is under consideration.
“I don’t know,” Allen said. “We’ll look at that. We still have some time before we have to play Atlanta. That will be something we look at. I don’t know if that’s in our plans right now.”
Pryor hasn’t been active for any of Oaklan’s first four regular-season games.
– Allen said recently signed defensive end Andre Carter put together two good practices this week and that Carter is getting closer to seeing the field in a game.
Carter signed last week, but he wasn’t active for the game against the Denver Broncos.
– Allen remains “hopeful” that wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey will be cleared to play by team doctors in time for the Falcons game.
Heyward-Bey practiced today for the second straight day and seemed to hold up well on the heels of the concussion he suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 23.
“He looked fine,” Allen said. “He’s not quite fully back but, obviously, there’s been a lot of improvement. So, that’s encouraging.”
– Seymour was excused from practice today for personal reasons, Allen said.
– In each of the past two games, a Raiders defensive lineman chased a play well downfield and ended up involved in a long gain turning into a fumble recovered by the Raiders.
Against the Steelers, Seymour got his hands on a fumble by a Steelers receiver just before linebacker Philip Wheeler recovered. Last Sunday, defensive end Lamarr Houston recovered a fumble, the result of strong safety Tyvon Branch’s hot pursuit, after a long catch-and-run by Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
Defensive coordinator Jason Tarver calls those “hustle plays,” the kind of which the Raiders need more of each game, he said.
– Most teams prefer their bye week fall somewhere near the midpoint of the season. Palmer is one who prefers byes later in the season. However, he said the Raiders bye week comes at an ideal time.
“A lot of times bye week can come … so far into the season that you just need a break,” Palmer said. “I don’t feel like guys think we need a break. We’re frustrated that we are where we are because of the way we’ve executed. And we were all talking and we were in the team meeting, this is a week to get better, there are meetings to get better, workouts, these practices are a chance to get better. I really feel like we got a lot of accomplished this week.”
– The Raiders no doubt can’t wait for the day when the entire playing surface at the Coliseum is covered with grass. That won’t happen until the A’s are finished playing.
Even so, Allen said he and the Raiders are pulling for the A’s to keep their magical season rolling.
“We’ve obviously paid attention to them,” Allen said. “We know they got a chance to win the division. We wish them well and hope for the best for them.”
– The New Jersey Shore Raiders booster club is making sure that former Raiders safety Jack Tatum will be remembered for a long time by having a street named in Tatum’s honor.
The corner of Paulison Ave. and River Drive will be changed to Jack Tatum Drive on Oct. 13, in Passaic, New Jersey. Tatum was born in North Carolina, but he was raised in Passaic, where he attended Passaic High School.