HENDERSON, Nev.–The Las Vegas Raiders Josh McDaniels is all smiles now that his team (1-3) has finally landed in the win column.
But, McDaniels is keenly aware that the season is far from over and he took time moments ago at his Wednesday update to discuss the state of the Silver and Black.
You can watch the entire press conference below, and read the transcript:
Head Coach Josh McDaniels
OPENING STATEMENT: “We’re obviously well into Kansas City. This will be a big challenge. They’re very well coached. Obviously, Coach [Andy] Reid has been doing it for a long time. Got a really good staff, a lot of good players on both sides of the ball, all three phases, in the kicking game. They’ve obviously played a couple games where they’ve been able to get away from some people here early and get off to a good start and really put some pressure on you to keep up. It’s going to take a really good effort from all three phases. We need a good week of practice here. Guys came in with a good attitude today, ready to get started. Got an extra day, which is a good thing for this team. They do a lot of things, so it’ll be good for us to have an extra opportunity to work.”
Q: You guys brought in Blake Martinez, is he somebody that you can see helping out in the short term, maybe even on Monday night?
Coach McDaniels: “All the practice squad guys are, I’d say, available and preparing as if they were going to play. As you saw, we’ve elevated somebody every week. So, it’s been pretty consistent for us relative to injuries or how we need to play the game, we’ve had to elevate some people. I feel like Blake has an opportunity to help us. Obviously, he’s somewhat familiar with Patrick’s [Graham] defense and the terminology and those kinds of things. So, we’ll see how it goes. And again, see what we need to do with the rest of the team based on the health that we have on Monday. All those guys would have an opportunity to potentially help us.”
Q: Do you have an update on Hunter Renfrow?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, you’ll see Hunter out there today. We’re in a non-contact phase at this point. So, again, just going one step at a time and hopefully he can progress through that, but we’ll take it as they tell us to take it.”
Q: What were a couple of things you learned about the Chiefs team when you coached against them in the 2019 AFC Championship game?
Coach McDaniels: “You get out in front of them and then all of a sudden, they come roaring back. I think we were up 14-0 and they scored 31 points in the second half. You just got to keep playing. I think this team under Coach Reid, they’re going to keep firing bullets and you have to keep playing and keep trying to slow them down defensively and try to score offensively to get out in front of them. They usually end up with an edge in the kicking game. They have great specialists, great returners. Coach [Dave] Toub does a great job in that area too. So, you can never relax. And I remember that game being one of those scenarios where you’re probably going to be physically, mentally and emotionally spent at the end of the game whatever the result is because it’s just so hard to go in there and beat him. The quarterback is a special player, and they got a lot of good football players on their team. Like I said, Andy does a great job. There’s never a moment where you can relax, and I think that was a good example. I’ve lived through it, but obviously we have a different team now, and they have a new team, different players. So, we’ll see how it goes, but there’s definitely an element of you’re going to need to play every single minute of the game like that play could be the one that determines the outcome because you never know when it’s going to be the one.”
Q: Can you talk about how difficult it becomes playing against Patrick Mahomes because you never know what might happen?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, look, he’s going to make some plays. That’s not going to be a mystery. There’s going to be some things that he does in the game, he’s a great player. I think that when you play a great player in any sport, they’re going to produce some moments like that during the course of the game. I think the biggest thing is you just have to try to be consistent and disciplined in your approach. If you can keep playing and have the right idea and make it as hard as you can on him. I think everybody tries to do that. Some may have more success than others, but you’re not going to stop this guy from doing some really good things for their team. That’s just the nature of the sport, and he’s that kind of player. So, just make it as tough as we can on him. That’s what we’re going to try to do. And try to make them have to earn everything that they get. But, again, you can’t get discouraged because he makes a great play. I mean there’s probably going to be a few of those. That’s why it’s a team sport and we’re going to have to come back and score some points on our end too. It’s just one of those things that you’re going to have to live with sometimes.”
Q: How important is gap integrity and guys staying where they’re supposed to be on defense this week?
Coach McDaniels: “Really important. We use the phrase ‘eye candy’. They want you to look over here and then all of a sudden, the ball is over here and your kind of like, ‘What happened?’ What has always impressed me about them is how well they execute those things. Everybody kind of giggles and laughs when you see him throw an underhand pass to a fullback on a shovel pass, or [Travis] Kelce lines up at quarterback in the redzone and then runs the ball in, or runs an option, or shovel pass, whatever it is. And people kind of get a kick out of that. What’s always impressed me is how precise they are and how detailed they are when they do those things. Look, players like to run things that are fun. They enjoy that. Andy has always been somebody that you, as an offensive coach, watch their things and you say, ‘Can we steal that from them? Or would we call that?’ And some things are no, you don’t feel comfortable enough. They got a great system, they have a great staff, they’ve come up with a lot of really unique, creative ideas. And for us defensively, it’s just going to be whatever your assignment is, you have to do it, and you have to trust the other 10. You can’t start trying to do somebody else’s job or you really get out of position, and they can hurt you quick. So, that’ll be a big part of the game on Monday night.”
Q: What are you learning about the dept in your running backs room? And when do you have to start incorporating the others more?
Coach McDaniels: “First of all, the number we kept is normal for us. I count Jakob [Johnson] in the tight end room if you will. But the number is about normal for us. I’d say, relative to Josh [Jacobs] and his workload, I think he’ll tell us when it needs to be adjusted a little bit. And again, I said it the other day, JJ is one of those guys who doesn’t – I’ve been around some guys that run two or three carriers and then give you one of these (taps helmet) and come out for a play or two. JJ just doesn’t have that; he wants to stay out there. It’s almost like he gets better as the drive goes. I think we’ll be smart. Again, the limited number of carries we ended up with in the first few weeks will probably help us here as we get going. We play Monday, then we have the bye. So, it’s always been one of those things where you kind of reassess it every few weeks and make sure that somebody’s body is not breaking down if they’re carrying the ball quite a bit. But we’ll use that depth, I’d say, when it’s probably the right time to do it. But I just think if you got a player that’s playing at a high level, and playing very well at that position, it’s really hard to take him off the field.”
Q: When do you have to step in as a coach and pull a guy out of the game to prevent injury?
Scroll to Continue
Coach McDaniels: “We did that a couple of times the other day, just give him a rest on our own. I think there is a lot of people that play all the snaps in the game, the left tackle, the right tackle. I mean, there are a lot of people that play a lot of snaps. Derek [Carr] obviously plays every one of them, Davante [Adams] generally plays all of them. So, you just be smart about it. Each position coach is down there on the field with us so we can see when they need a break. Kennedy [Polamalu] threw Zamir [White] and Brandon [Bolden] in a few times the other day when he could tell that, even if he didn’t want to come out, it was probably time for him (Josh Jacobs) to do that. But just being smart about when we think it’s time for them to do it, because some guys will push themselves past the point of when it’s smart and then maybe they’re a little tired and miss something on the next play. So, we just try to do it one play at a time.”
Q: Have you heard anything directly from the league about changes in the concussion protocols?
Coach McDaniels: “Not yet. But I would say, whatever they do, it’s for the right reasons. There’s nothing more important than the health of the team. We talked about that this morning. We’ve had a few here in a few weeks. I don’t think we’re doing anything different on gameday than anybody else is doing. But when the players don’t feel either themselves, or don’t feel right, we’re urging them to make sure that they communicate that and do the right thing for their health. But whatever they tell us to do, relative to the protocol, I think if it changes then that’s the right thing to do and protect the players.”
Q: Do you have an update on Denzel Perryman?
Coach McDaniels: “Denzel is going through the process of the protocol. Again, there are things he has to go through and pass in order to kind of keep moving forward in the protocol. First of all, I don’t have a medical degree and I’m not a doctor, but I know that each one of them could be different. Hunter [Renfrow] was different than Nate Hobbs, than Andre James. So, whatever happens, we have all those steps in place. Our doctors do a great job of just making sure that we go through them one at a time and whenever they’re cleared, they’re cleared. Nothing to update on Denzel yet.”
Q: Darren Waller has been off to a slower start this season – what do you think has been the issue so far and what would help him have a bigger breakthrough moving forward?
Coach McDaniels: “No issues, just I think sometimes it’s where the ball goes and how many targets and catches and those kinds of things. Sometimes that’s very circumstantial to how the defense played us, what options were available on the play, how did we protect. We look at kind of the whole thing in totality. There’s certainly opportunities that we’ve had potentially down the field or in the red zone or on third down where maybe something else occurred on the play and dictated that the ball either didn’t get thrown there or what have you. But no concerns on that. He’s done a good job of his job, and we’ll continue to try to get him involved in the passing game for sure.”
Q: Do you think that the tempo this team went with a couple of times on Sunday kind of helped jumpstart the offense and get it going?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, I think the guys like that. The biggest thing we’ve stressed since we started doing some of that in the spring was the execution. Tempo in and of itself does nothing, it’s really the execution that you perform at when you’re going quickly. I thought that was the biggest thing that we took away from that is – I don’t know if it was 16 or 18 plays, whatever it was during the course of the game that we used it between that and the two-minute drive before the half – that we were really able to communicate and everybody do their job, right. If you do that, then whether you huddle or don’t huddle, you have chance to have success. But I thought our conditioning was okay. It’s the fourth game of the year, I thought we kind of worked ourselves into a point where you have a chance to go out there and do some things maybe at a quicker tempo, and I thought they responded to it well.”
Q: On the run by Zamir White, Darren Waller throws a really good block downfield, Davante Adams throws really good block. You are working with those guys for the first time, what’s their buy-in on blocking and how important is that to the run game?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, I mean, you saw it. I think they all know. I mean, the reality is in the game of football all the skill players understand that they can’t do anything if there aren’t a whole bunch of other people that do their job first. So, Davante [Adams] knows that if Kolton Miller and Dylan Parham and Andre James and the rest of the linemen, they don’t block then Davante is never going to touch the ball. So, for the receivers and the tight ends in the running game, it’s very much the same. That guy is your buddy. He has the ball and he’s trying to make some yards to help us win, and to me they’ve been very unselfish going in there. I think a couple of the runs down there in the red zone went really hard in there to try to get the safeties and give him an opportunity to make extra yards. But I think it just speaks to the unselfishness of the team. Those guys are really important playing the game, and there they are blocking in space and helping Zamir [White] make a big play.”
Q: Is there any difference in preparation in terms of getting ready to play a game before a bye? And in your experience, how much different is the kind of attitude after the game in terms of how you perform going into a bye? The second question is the entire Vegas nation is on baby watch for Maxx Crosby. Is there a plan for Monday if that happens?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, I’m on watch too. I would like to have them have this celebration here before we travel. But no, we’ll have plans in place obviously if we need to do that. I was trying to tell him the other day a few tricks that I’ve – I haven’t used them, but my wife has when it’s time to, ‘Come on, let’s get going.’ Sit on the ball and bounce and all that stuff, trying to give him help and advice in any way you can, not just football. That will obviously all take care of itself hopefully. Relative to the bye, it is what it is. Everybody knows our bye is next week, but I think the focus is entirely on just preparing for the game. You don’t really worry about next week until the game is over and then we’ll worry about the things we have an opportunity to do and try to help ourselves improve during the bye week. So, we’re full bore onto Kansas City now.”
Q: When you look at Tre’von Moehrig, Amik Robertson and Nate Hobbs, is it nerve wracking relying on young players? Or is it exciting seeing how they’re playing now and thinking about how good they can be?
Coach McDaniels: “Yeah, very exciting. There’s a lot of people in that same conversation. I mean, [Divine] Deablo is in there and he’s doing a great job. John [Abram], Josh [Jacobs], Dylan [Parham], Thayer [Munford]; we have I’d say a host of young players, Hunter [Renfrow], that are really contributing in a lot of areas. I think in football there’s always that moment where like, ‘Okay, it’s their first time.’ Like we talked about with Zamir [White], it’s third down and two in a very critical situation and we’re out there on the field and Zamir is in the backfield and he’s going to get the ball; Dylan is on the field, Thayer is on the field. So, yeah, at some point it’s football, you got to trust them. And I trust all of them, whether they’re rookie, a new player to the team. Once they’re a Raider, they’re a Raider. I think to me, just giving them the confidence to put them in there and give them a chance to play football. I mean, they’ve all played football all their lives, and to me, just let them go out there and make plays. That’s what they’re here for, and at some point, you just cut the cord and get them in there and let them go. And once they’ve played a handful of snaps and a few games, I don’t really look at him like he’s a rookie, or he’s a veteran, or he’s young, or he doesn’t have much experience. I think once they get in there and they get their feet wet, they just go.”
The Las Vegas Raiders travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs next. That game is on Monday, Oct. 10, and it can be seen on ESPN. The game starts at 8:15 p.m. EDT/5:15 p.m. PDT.
Watch the Silver and Black live when you get your Raiders tickets from SI Tickets HERE
Please make sure you tell us your thoughts when you like our Facebook Page WHEN YOU CLICK RIGHT HERE.
Want to talk about this? Want to air your opinion about all things Las Vegas Raiders? Maybe you like to talk about other sports that aren’t Silver and Black related? We got your back. Join our 100% FREE message board, a brand new option, when you CLICK RIGHT HERE.
Want the latest breaking Las Vegas Raiders news delivered straight to you? CLICK THE FOLLOW button at the top of the page. Don’t miss any of the latest up-to-the-second updates for your Las Vegas Raiders when you follow on Twitter @HondoCarpenter