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Q&A With Lane Kiffin

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  • Q&A With Lane Kiffin

    WTF. He gave a lot of good info about going into next year.

    Nnamdi and Tommy Kelly coming back and Huff could be moving to FS. Please be true.

    A transcript of Monday’s season-ending press conference with Raiders coach Lane Kiffin, with news, notes and observatons to follow later today:
    Introduction: Back to yesterday’s game, very disappointing loss, game that we really felt we were going to win and felt we were very prepared to win, and did some things that we learned from the first time around against them that we felt we were going to be able to do better than we did the first time because as you back to the first time we played them, we did not play very well that day, and it was the worst game that we played of the season so far up to that point. I think it’s a glaring example of how you win and lose football games, the turnover margin, you can look at the stats, as you read them are very equal throughout that game, rushing yards, I think, we had more rushing yards then them. Turnover margin, to be minus-3 in the turnover margin, turn it over four times and only get it back once, you’re going to lose, I think it’s 98 percent of the time, so we have to continue to find a way to get better at that. I want to say we ended up minus-11 in the turnover margin, which is disappointing. We had improvement from minus-23 before, but we’ve got a long ways to go and that will be big thing in fixing the win and loss column. As far as individual players, reinforcing what I said yesterday, I thought JaMarcus played extremely well. His turnover there for the touchdown wasn’t his fault on the back side and really made very good decisions throughout the game. It was great to see that in one week, that a guy could get so much better in one week. He could improve, had a number of situations where he was in the exact same scenario he was the week before. There were a number of times where he could have forced the ball back across the field to try and make a great play that ends up in turnovers, and he didn’t do it, and he managed the game really well, and that’s a great defense, that was playing out there. There’s a reason they lead the league in takeaways, and they’re very challenging, too. His first start, to be against a really schematically-challenging defense with great players, because they come after you. They blitz as much as anyone we’ve played all year long, so, very pleased with him, and I think you saw a glimpse of the future with the young guys as you’ve seen all year long, but for Zach to finish on such a good game versus great players as well because he goes against Merriman and Phillips every play, and I believe he ends up with the most catches in the history of the Raiders as a rookie, passing Tim Brown, pretty good company. And Johnnie Lee with an exciting punt return, and Jay Richardson making some plays, and really a lot o first-year Raiders, as you go to Justin Griffith making some guys miss there and O’Neal playing well, and Dominic with his back-to-back 100-yard games, and the first 100-yard games in 20 games against those guys, so it was good to see a number of our first-year guys play really well.

    Q: If JaMarcus improved that much in one week, what can you expect with a whole off-season and training camp?

    Kiffin: The thing about it is one game will never define you as a player or as a team. To think he’s going to play great all the time, we know that probably won’t be the case, but he’s going to get so much better because he’s going to get stuff he’s never had before. He didn’t have a true offseason from the beginning, he didn’t have a training camp, he didn’t have preseason. If you believe in coaching, and you believe that’s how players get better, he didn’t have that, so it was really good to see him play that well and I’m glad that we managed it the way we did because I don’t believe there was any way he was able to play the way he did yesterday in Week 6 or 7 because of the amount of practice reps that he’s had and the amount of exposure to other guys playing and all the game plans has helped him and prepared him for that game. It wasn’t just last week, it was all the time leading up to it.

    Q: How critical for JaMarcus to go into the offseason on a good note?

    Kiffin: I think it was really important for our whole franchise. I think it was really important for our fans, our building, our players, everyone, to see him play very well and make some dynamic plays at times that he did. It’s very valuable because it just increases their faith and trust in him and where we’re going. I think it was really, really powerful and important. Would have been much better if we won the game, but it was very good for him.
    Q: What is the schedule for JaMarcus now that the season is over?

    Kiffin: He’ll take a little time off here but he’ll be out here. We’ve got a lot of work to do and he’s ready to go. He’s fired up about being a leader on this team and being the guy calling the plays and in that huddle and getting the guys around him, and getting the timing and getting familiar with these guys and he’s ready.
    Q: You mentioned that 4-12 would not happen again, could you amplify on that statement with regard to everyone in the building buying in?

    Kiffin: Well, I think first of all, that if you do it right, the most improvement comes from Year 1 to Year 2 because you’ve had a year to evaluate everything. As you guys who’ve been covering us, you know that one of the first things that we did, we talked about everybody having a clean slate here when we got here. Everything you do from here on counts and we’re going to judge you on that, and we didn’t care what people said, or what coaches said about you before here or in the building or any of that, so we didn’t care about that because we’re going to make our opinions on you. And that helped us, too. I’m not going to get into individuals, but there’s a number of guys that if we would have listened to what people said about them before, we would have ran them out of here. They came the other way around and were good players for us, and leaders and the whole thing. And when you do that, we didn’t make a number of changes before the year but when you give people opportunities, sometimes that hurts you a little bit, too, because you don’t listen to what people said. Did we hang on to some guys longer than we should have? Sure. We’ll make some changes this offseason and we’ll get ready to go for Year 2 and make sure that everybody’s on board. Now they understand us better and what our expectations are. And the major point was to understand that that’s not OK because we played some teams well and we won a couple divisional games. That’s not OK. This season was not a success. We’re 4-12. That means that you lost more than you won and we’ve got to get that fixed. We’re going to work on that right now and we’re going to look at every single way we can to fix that, whether that’s free agency, draft, anything. And so we’ll evaluate everything and find a way to get better.

    Q: Did you underestimate the effects of four straight seasons of double-digit losses?

    Kiffin: Probably. It’s difficult. It’s a difficult mentality to have when people are so used to losing that it’s just what they know. It’s what happens. You lose games. You find a way to lose them. It is difficult. It’s more difficult than if a team had just had one year of it. With a team that we have that’s pretty young, that’s kind of all that some of them know.

    Q: What are the specific areas that need to be addressed?

    Kiffin: I’m not going to get into that today with you guys because there’s too much information still. We’re going to go back, we’re going to look at all the cut-ups, we’re going to look at everything, we’re going to look at what’s out there before I come across and say where we need to attack in free agency and the draft. I don’t have all that information in right now to make that judgment.

    Q: Was Sunday Rob Ryan’s final game with the Raiders?

    Kiffin: First of all, we haven’t made any decisions yet. Those will come pretty soon. Just like I said, with players and stuff, we’re still going to get all the information in and get it all together before we make any changes. Like I said before, we’re going to do everything we can to put us in the best position to win. Whatever that is, whatever we have to look at, no different that what we did with players, putting players on the bench that had been starters, or whatever it is. We’re not worried about people’s feelings or any of that. We’re worried about winning. And we need to start winning. We need to do everything we can to put us in that position. So, we’ll look at everything.

    Q: What’s your preference for your backup quarterback, youth or veteran?

    Kiffin: There are too many different scenarios because there were two backups. Who’s two? Who’s three? There’s a bunch of different ways to do it. You can have a young guy that you’re developing, even though you have another young guy, and your third guy can be a veteran. But, Andrew Walter’s still here. He did a good job in the limited time that he had and played well in preseason. He has gotten comfortable with our system. We’ll add a third quarterback. I can’t give you right now what that’s going to be, whether that’s re-signing Josh or whether that’s going and drafting a guy late, or something like that. I don’t know that right now.

    Q: Were their any adjustments you had to make as a college coach working in the NFL for the first time with regard to length of season?

    Kiffin: It seemed long because we lost. that’s why it seemed long. it didn’t seem long because of the amount of work or the weeks but because we kept losing. That will make it long … especially since I had been fortunate enough to lose eight games over the last five seasons. So when you lose 12 and 2 preseason, that’s 14 losses. That makes for a long time. but I didn’t get a sense that it was about you had a clock that was used to being done three weeks ago or anything like that.

    Q: Rhodes finished strong, is he part of the future?

    Kiffin: We will look at everything. Dominic played extremely well in the chances he got. It hurt Dominic initially because he had the four games suspension and was out. We talk to our guys all the time — if you give somebody a chance they may take it and run with it. we’re not going to hold spots or do anything based on what except what you have done and what’s going on,. Justin seized that. LaMont was starting off great then Justin got a chance when LaMont got hurt, seized it and never gave it up. Kept it until he got injured. Finally Dominic got a chance and he played extremely well.

    Q: How much did not having a true vertical receiver limit the dimension of your offense?

    Kiffin: You know, as you look at the whole thing and go back thru the season, Jerry did make some plays for us. You can look at it that way. Just got done meeting with Ronald and we have a good plan on how he is going to improve and what he needs to do to get better because we expect him to have a big year next year. And we tried Johnnie a little bit. Johnnie didn’t come around as much as we’d like but part of that is our fault. We didn’t give him enough opportunities to show that. We have high expectations for Johnnie that he can fill that role for us and obviously we will go look in other places as well.

    Q: Is franchising Nnamdi Asomugha a no-brainer?

    Kiffin: Not necessarily. there are a couple of possibilities there. we’re still dealing with his agent (on) a couple of different scenarios as far as length of contract or whether we go that route. But we definitely want him back here and we are going to make sure he is on our team.

    Q: Have you talked to Warren Sapp about whether he is retiring?

    Kiffin: I have talked to warren. I am not going to comment on that until warren talks to you guys. Warren has already made it known what he’s doing but I’m not going to take that from him. He’ll tell you guys whenever he’s ready.

    Q: How much of passing woes can be explained by having so many different quarterbacks?

    Kiffin: Yeah, it’s a combination of a couple things. One, we weren’t very aggressive in the way we went about a lot of games. We played conservative at times because we needed to, cause that’s how we were built against certain opponents, and what we need to do to win. That leads into what did you try to do this year, what was your plan initially. Well, our plan initially was, to me, if you come in somewhere and we hadn’t had very much success, and as you look at the makeup of the team - the defense returning 11 starters, and I think on offense we were only going to start two guys that had been starting in those spots before, so you got nine guys starting in new spots - the thought was how are we going to win? What’s the best chance to win? Well, it’s going to be to run the ball and to stop the run. And to build off the defense with 11 returning starters. And it wasn’t gonna be to really attack in the passing game, cause we really couldn’t take the chance to turn the ball over a lot, and throwing it downfield and getting a bunch of sacks. That wasn’t how we were gonna win right now. Now eventually that may be, when we change some things and our system starts to unfold with the proper players. We did do the running part, and defense, we all know we didn’t play as well as we’d like. The passing game, we didn’t give it enough opportunities really to show itself. And when you play four different quarterbacks - really three, cause Andrew played a little bit and made it four - that doesn’t help. And then JaMarcus missing the timing, Daunte coming in late - we didn’t have Daunte for the offseason either - none of that helps that situation. Cause it is about timing and things coming together and people working with each other.

    Q: What did the defense have so much trouble stopping the run?

    Kiffin: We’ve got to look at everything. And it really was disappointing, because I really felt that the defense was gonna be our strength. I never told the offense that, but that’s what I felt was we were going to play great defense, we were gonna build off… There had been a lot of improvement from two years ago to last year on defense, so I thought we’d continue to build that with returning 11 guys. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it worked. So as we discussed, we’ve gotta look at everything. And we will, and we’ll figure out a way to get it fixed.

    Q: What held this team to together?

    Kiffin: Well, I just think that’s a credit to everything. Coaches, players, the whole thing. And it’s not easy to do, as you guys have seen before. Especially when you’re playing four teams in a row that have a lot at stake - you’re not playing anybody like yourself. I’m proud of our staff and I’m proud of our players for doing that. And you didn’t see the blowups in the media. You didn’t see players lashing out at coaches or at each other. So I was proud of the way guys protected our team, as far as that, and kept competing.”

    Q: How come?

    Kiffin: I don’t think it’s that easy to just say one thing. That’s my job, and that’s what you spend all day thinking about, and how are you gonna motivate ‘em, how are you gonna get ‘em to practice? Well, how you gonna get ‘em not to start attacking each other? How you gonna get, when the defense is playing good in those games, not to go after the offense for not playing well, or vice-versa? We were able to do it. That’s a positive. But let’s go back to reality. We’re 4-12. So regardless of how we ended those games, we got a lot to fix.”

    Q: Did you get what you wanted out of Gallery when you moved him to guard?

    A: I do think definitely as you guys would agree that’s the best position for him. With Rob, what we’ve got to continue to work on is about decision making. Too many poor penalties and we’ve got to get that fixed, with the penalties between he and Barry. But he played well. And another thing we talked About was not listening to what other people said before. A number of people said before ‘how much does he love football?’ and all those things that you guys have heard about him for years. He loves football now. This guy loves playing football and he’s tough as can be. So anybody that ever thought that before was wrong from what I’ve seen in a year and I’m glad we have him. And I know the players around him really respect him and what he brings every single day. I’ve never heard the guy in 11 months of being with him complain about one thing.

    Q: Talked early about fixing the locker room. Was that accomplished?

    Kiffin: We’ve got a ways to go. But we’ve made some strides and that’s a huge reason why that didn’t happen this year (the locker room didn’t revolt) we did make those strides or else it would be the same old story. And that’s why I said you credit the players because in the end they have to do it. So we’ll continue to work on it and we’ll continue to build around players that are team players and understand what you have to do to buy in and what it really takes to win. And we’ll continue to find more of those players and just keep building those players up as the leaders of our team.

    Q:What did you talk the guys about today? Tell them to say goodbye to Lamont and Daunte?

    Kiffin: We went for a while. I spoke to them for a while. Some real deep talk about the offseason where the direction of what we said our first meeting and what we got done and what we didn’t get done and where we need to go and what we need to do. for the guys in this room that we’re going to bring back, what our expectations is for you and what we need to do to get over this hump and start winning these games. And I thought it was a really good meeting and I think they understand there’s a commitment here to get this thing fixed and get it going in the right direction. From talking to some of them afterwards, maybe I need to pay attention more to the media and stuff, because it was a good meeting. I had a couple of players afterward say well I guess that means you’re staying. I hadn’t even thought to address that. They said well we read all over the internet and everything says your going somewhere. But I guess it helped that too.

    Q: Your experience with Sapp?

    Kiffin: I was fortunate because of my dad being with Warren, really prior to here, really the only person that had coached Warren for a coordinator standpoint because Warren had the same coordinator every year he was there. So I was able to have a pretty good understanding for him. I think they spent 10 years together. That really helped me with Warren and I think it helped me too that I know Warren has a ton of respect for my father as my father does for Warren. And I think that helped him initially too, made it easier to come talk about things. And for whatever reason, Warren and I hit it off pretty good right away. And he liked what he saw in the team meetings. He liked what we talked about, the practice tempo, a bunch of things he’d been disappointed in before and he really got behind us and what we were doing. It was a good experience.

    Q: What do you think of your running back situation going into next season?

    Kiffin: You know, a lot of decisions to be made there and some thing we don’t know. We really don’t know about Michael yet. Michael Bush hasn’t played for us yet so it’ll be exciting to see him in the offseason and the preseason. And there’s some guys in free agency that are coming open too so we’ll look at all of it. And that’s one thing I can tell you about all these things, we’re going to find the best way to win and we’re going to figure out a way to get a fixed. And whatever it is we’re just not going to be satisfied with we played pretty well and say oh we played pretty well. In all these games we’re looking for a competitive edge.

    Q: What did you think of Bush?

    Kiffin: I like him a lot. When Michael came here he was a little bit heavy. We told him what he needed to do, where we wanted him, how he needed to work and he responded. I really like it because everything’s a test when you first meet these young players and how do they respond. His was a hard one because he didn’t have a lot to be motivated for. It was kind of like, ‘I don’t really know if I’m going to get to play’ and everything. He’s been great and he’s continued to work out extremely hard.

    Q: Does the system you run make it less likely to have a marquee name in the backfield?

    Kiffin: We’ll never just try to find a big name. We’re going to go to the film. We’re never going to sign somebody because of their stats or because of what they’re supposed to be. We’re going to go off our evaluation. We may find somebody that we think’s really good that isn’t a big name because of the way they fit in the system. But that being said, that doesn’t mean that there’s not a big name guy that’s a really good player that we’re not going to go after because we don’t need a big name guy because anybody can run in the system. No. Anybody can’t run in the system. Some guys can be effective and then some guys can be even more effective and be great players in the system.

    Q: How is Tommy Kelly’s rehab?

    Kiffin: Tommy’s going real well. He’s been working extremely hard and I know he’s extremely excited and hopefully we get this thing done and get Tommy here for a long time.

    Q: Calls that go against the Raiders?

    Kiffin: You mean am I finally going to buy in that everyone’s against the Raiders in this league? No I’m not. There’s call that go both ways and I’m never going to buy into that theory. You always see the ones that go the other way. Trust me, we had a facemask yesterday that wasn’t called and they go the other way too and their fans think that they get the bad end of the deal as well. We’re going to play smarter, we’re going to make better decisions, we’re going to go back to our fundamentals and techniques that don’t put us in position to get as many penalties as we have.

    Q: Had time to study the draft or do you have to do your homework?

    Kiffin: I’ve got to do a lot of homework because there’s no way that you could be following the college year and how players are doing. What is neat is that a number of these names that will come out I will have had background with them and know their families through recruiting, know who they are and the type of competitors they are, stuff that you have to research and find, so that helps a little bit. We’ll dive into it and get going. There’s a ton of work to do on it. We don’t have our third pick but we have two picks coming up that we need to find starters and guys that can come in and contribute right away. Our second pick, we just talked about Zach Miller, ends up catching the most passes in the history of the Raiders as a rookie so hopefully we continue to make really good decisions and find the right type of players, the right type of competitors, the right type of team players. Zach’s one of those examples.

    Q: Where you sit in the first round?

    Kiffin: I didn’t even study it yet. I was just in to this game. Somebody told me this morning so I don’t even know how that fell the way it did.

    Q: Is it good knowing you’re picking third or fourth, less players to evaluate than if seventh or eighth?

    Kiffin: It helps by lack of scenarios but I still take it and I go study everybody because you don’t know what’s going to happen. If all you do is look at that, there may be a chance to trade down five picks or something and there’s a player there and you can pick up more picks. We’ll study everything. We won’t ever say we’ll draft right here so we know the variables. We’ll look at everybody because you never know what’s going to happen.

    Q: Do you want Jarrod Cooper back?

    Kiffin: Coop’s a pretty dynamic individual as far as the energy he brings. You need those guys. You need guys like him and guys like Isaiah. Those are guys that have a special thing about them. It’s not just the way they play, it’s the energy they bring and the way everybody feeds off of them. We’ll look to bring Coop back and excited to have him hopefully for the full year and he won’t have to miss some time like he did this year.

    Q: How much did Huff improve?

    Kiffin: I thought Michael improved. I think you saw him be more aggressive and really compete better during the games. Michael was sitting back too much, waiting for things to happen. Our hope was from year one to year two that there was going to be this big improvement and playing more aggressive and going after things. Rookies some times are more tentative, especially with DBs because they don’t want to make a mistake. Right away Michael wasn’t doing that like we wanted right away. I thought he improved and played better. This offseason we’ll look at different things with him as well.

    Q: Might he play free safety or corner instead of strong?

    Kiffin: That’s what I kind of hinted at. We’ll look at some things in the offseason.
    I’d rather not get into what that is exactly right now. But we’re going to look at some different things with Michael.

    Q: What was up with home/away rushing defense stats?

    Kiffin: Well I think before you make that … Study the rankings of the teams we played because we did play some really good running teams on the road and some subpar teams at home in the nonconference schedule so I think you want to look at that first. I did feel that our defense feeds off of our fans, they definitely do. Being at home, when our fans have it going there is a different feeling, our whole team does, especially our defense. I really did notice that.

    Q: Does Newberry have another year?

    Kiffin:I don’t know. We’ll look at it and talk to him. He knows himself better than anybody. You always have to watch Jeremy in the offseason, how much you work him and so forth. We’ll have a conversation with him and see where he is too and how he feels about doing it again.

    Q: When will OTAs be?

    Kiffin: I don’t have that right now for you.

    Q: What did you accomplish?

    Kiffin: I think establishing the running game. I feel with a team that’s just coming together like we talked about at the beginning. Until you have all the things in place that you need to be, you need to run the football. As a young team coming together with a young quarterback, you need to do that. The first year and to do it with three different backs. I don’t know how many 100-yard rushing games they had between them. You know, Dominic ends up 2-for-2. Justin has some great games and LaMont early on was really good to see. That’s with a line we talked about with everybody in new spots and moving around and guys coming in, a brand new center, a brand new right tackle who gets hurt so a guard going to tackle and a left tackle most people said was done and Gallery and all the issues with him. I’m really proud of that and how it came together. Because I think that will go a long way for us and long way in the development of JaMarcus.
    Q: Any injuries that will affect offseason?

    Kiffin: Not right now. We’re going to obviously take care of the guys and get them back as fast as we can and get ready because we have a big offseason coming up.
    Last edited by Windy; 12-31-2007, 03:50 PM.

  • #2
    A lot of that sounds really good. I probably said this in one of the other threads but I'm getting pretty excited about this offseason and next years team.


    • #3
      wow its about time they considered moving Huff to FS. Kiffin seems to be making all the right moves and he is one of the best talent evaluators out there at such a young age.


      • #4
        Good stuff there, really excited about this draft. I hope the first two picks are on the lines. That's where we need the most help.



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