By Steve Corkran
Monday, September 30th, 2013 at 4:48 pm in Oakland Raiders.
ALAMEDA — Coach Dennis Allen didn’t have many flattering things to say about the way quarterback Matt Flynn played against the Washington Redskins. Still, he said Monday, Flynn isn’t the sole reason the Raiders lost.
Allen made that abundantly clear Monday in his weekly news conference, bringing up the subject without prompting, in an obvious response to some of the things written after the Raiders 24-14 loss Sunday.
“This game of football is not about one person,” Allen said. “It’s about 11 guys on each side of the ball. … At no point was this ever made about one guy, alright. I want to make sure that that’s perfectly clear.
“We had a football game to go out and play yesterday. We went out as a team, we didn’t get it done. That’s the end of the story. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to move on. We lost that game as a team and we’re going to win games as a team.”
Allen kept at the team theme as he progressed. More so now than ever, it’s clear, Allen has created the impression within the team’s year-round facility that it’s them against the world.
Of course, it’s going to take more than that to get the Raiders season turned around. The Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs are off to 4-0 starts, with the San Diego Chargers (2-2) also ahead of the Raiders. And that’s just within the AFC West.
But the us-against-the-world approach is where Allen is starting.
“We’re going to pull together as a team,” Allen said, “and those 53 men in the locker room, the eight practice squad guys, the coaches on this staff, we’re going to come together and we’re going to pull together in a bunker mentality and we’re going to go to work.
“That’s how you get better as a football team. The only way you climb out of this hole is to come together and not pull apart, alright. We’re not going to let anything on the outside pull us apart.
– Running back Darren McFadden (hamstring) and fullback Marcel Reece (knee) weren’t the only players that got hurt against the Redskins. Allen said center Stefen Wisniewski (knee) and defensive tackle Stacy McGee (shoulder) also emerged with injuries.
Allen said Reece underwent an MRI to determine the extent of his injury. He had the results of the MRI but he didn’t divulge them Monday.
“It’s really a matter of when’s he going to be physically able to go,” Allen said. “It’s not a surgical procedure or anything like that that needs to be done. It’s just, whenever he’s ready to go.”
As for McFadden, Allen said he doesn’t have a good feel for how long his lead back is going to be down. McFadden missed most of the Redskins game.
“I wouldn’t get into characterizing whether it’s minor, major or indifferent,” Allen said. “He’s got a hamstring and I don’t expect him to be out for a long time but we’ll see how he responds too.”
– Allen reiterated that he made the right decision by keeping Terrelle Pryor from playing against the Redskins and giving him more time to recover from the concussion he suffered a week ago.
At one point, Allen said Sunday, the Raiders were prepared to let Pryor play. When Pryor asked if he could wear a tinted visor, that was enough to tell Allen that Pryor still was experiencing sensitivity to light, a common symptom of a concussion.
“Sensitivity to light is obviously a symptom,” Allen said, “and when you have that symptom we can’t put him at risk.”
Allen is comfortable with his decision to sit Pryor for an extra week. And, really, he and the Raiders should be applauded for ignoring the temptation to rush back Pryor.
“He’s got to be symptom free,” Allen said, “whenever that point is. And we’re going to continue to monitor him until he’s symptom free.”
Allen shed more light on the league-mandated protocol process, saying it’s possible for a player to be cleared medically — meaning he passed all the required tests — yet still not be healthy enough to play.
“Part of the tests are objective and some of them are subjective,” Allen said. “We wanted to make sure that we exercised extreme caution in this situation. We probably went a little bit above and beyond what typical protocol would be. We just deemed that it wasn’t worth the risk.”
– Sebastian Janikowski on Sunday missed a field-goal attempt for the third time this season.
It appeared as if the hold by first-year punter Marquette King was fine. Janikowski’s kick from 52 yards had the distance, it just sailed wide left.
“We have to get more comfortable still with that duo,” Allen said of King holding for Janikowski. “And, again, it’s a 52-yarder off the dirt, but yeah, any time he misses it’s a concern. So we have to continue to look at that and see what we can do to fix that.”
Shane Lechler was Janikowski’s holder from 2000-12. No one expected it to be a seamless transition from Lechler to King.
– Late in Sunday’s game, the Raiders faced a fourth-and-one play from the Redskins 17-yard line, down 24-14.
Some coaches would have kicked a field goal in that situation and then worked on getting the ball back again and going after a game-tying touchdown.
Allen opted to go for the touchdown part of the equation first. Of course, it backfired when quarterback Matt Flynn fumbled and got stopped short of the line anyway.
Afterward, Allen stood by his decision.
“It was 4th-and-inches,” Allen said Sunday, “and we have to be able to make inches. We hadn’t been moving the ball up and down the field and to get a chance to be down there when you’re in scoring position, you can possibly get a touchdown, we have to make inches.”
On Monday, Allen stood by his decision.
“An NFL football team has to make inches,” Allen said. “We were going to need a touchdown at some point in time anyway. We hadn’t been down there a whole lot offensively. So. my thought process was let’s try to get the touchdown.
“I know we need a field goal and I know we need two scores. But fourth and inches you have to make inches. I’d do it again if I had that opportunity.”
– Late in the third quarter, the Redskins threatened with a drive that reached the deep in Raiders territory. After two plays netted 7 yards, the Redskins faced a third-and-three from the Raiders 5-yard line.
Robert Griffin III dropped back, waited for wide receiver Pierre Garcon to make his cut and get separation from cornerback D.J. Hayden and then delivered the go-ahead touchdown pass.
“He needs to get tighter, yes,” Allen said. “He needs to get tighter. That’s another one of those learning experiences for him.”
– The Raiders committed only four penalties for 25 yards against the Redskins. However, two of them proved quite costly.
In particular, Allen singled out offsides penalties on defensive end Lamarr Houston and linebacker Sio Moore.
“Huge plays,” Allen said. “The one offsides was a takeaway, where we’re going to have the ball in scoring position and we can’t do that. It’s unacceptable; we have to get it fixed. Too many pre-snap penalties and we have to get that fixed.”
The Moore penalty didn’t seem too egregious. The Houston penalty wiped out a fumble recovery by Brandian Ross in Redskins territory.
One thing that gets overlooked: Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. was drilled as soon as he caught a pass from Griffin III. It’s quite likely that the Redskins would have challenged the ruling, and the fumble would have been overturned. In fact, one official signaled incomplete pass.
If so, without Houston’s penalty, the Redskins would have been forced to punt, as they did anyway one play after Houston’s penalty.
– The Raiders blocked a punt and turned a fake punt into a first down against the Redskins. That made for a pretty good day by the special teams, with the exception of Janikowski’s miss.
Taiwan Jones is the player that ran with the ball on the fake punt. He said the play had been in place for two weeks.
“We had it called right away, so it was already planned,” Jones said. “I just was able to execute it.”