With the pads finally back on and preseason training camp underway, most of the Oakland Raiders are doing everything they can to show the coaching staff they are making adjustments and learning from spring camp. Head coach Dennis Allen has made it clear that what makes a player NFL game-ready is a player who doesn’t make the same mistake twice. A big part of Allen’s coaching philosophy is adjusting and learning from prior mistakes.
One big mistake that Allen and the rest of Raider Nation can’t stand to see continue is the amount of penalties the Raiders have committed. In 2011, Oakland broke the record for the most penalized season with 163 penalties. They also led the league in penalties from 1993-1996. The amount of yards given up through penalties has killed the Raiders for far too long and it’s time they do something about it. Allen believes this year will be different because of the new more experienced personnel. It will be interesting to see what happens because in the refs eyes Oakland has built such a penalty-heavy reputation that makes them want to throw the flag more often.
Other than the issue of penalties, which Allen is eager to fix, he seems very pleased with what is unfolding before him so far during preseason. Allen mentioned after the first day of camp in a press conference that “everything seems to be lining up with this group of guys and I truly believe we are getting better as a football team”.
In that same press conference, after Friday’s camp, Allen went on to discuss the friendly competition that he looks forward to watching each day of practice. First he mentioned the depth he has right now on the offensive line especially with rookie guard Gabe Jackson. He said he was already impressed with the strength of the young rookie, but not to forget he is still one of the youngest guys on the field. So, as long as he (and the rest of the depth guys on the O-line: Kevin Boothe, Mady Lamar, Matt McCants, and Mike Shaw) continue(s) to build on their strengths and limits their weaknesses they will find away to help the Raiders’ offensive line.
Allen also briefly talked about how he looks forward to the competition in the defensive backfield. He is most excited to see former 49er cornerback, Carlos Rogers take over the competition, which is why he told Rogers when McKenzie signed him that starting at cornerback isn’t a given for any guy on the team. Allen likes his players to think everyone has to compete for that starting spot at the beginning of each season.
The media then brought up the competition at tight end between Mychal Rivera and David Ausberry. Allen responded differently this time saying that this was a peculiar competition because he likes to use both tight ends for different purposes. Since Ausberry is bigger then Rivera he is more of a still blocker with straight line speed when running routes, whereas Rivera is asked to block more on the move and off the ball. Rivera is also known to be very good with running routes, which makes him more likely to get the short screen passes when Ausberry will be good for a deep ball a couple times a game.
Allen’s optimism makes it hard to envision another 4-11 season but at this point it is obviously too early to tell. It will be interesting to see Coach Allen’s perspective of the team when preseason camp is wrapping up and the Raiders are on the verge of week 1. I look forward to tracking Oakland’s progress throughout the 2014 preseason.