Oakland's run defense has been really stingy. What do you see from them?
COACH KELLY: They're really athletic. It starts on the D‑line. They've got a bunch of guys that are stout, but they also run really well starting with Lamarr Houston. Nick Roach is playing really well, middle linebacker for them, can move around really well, and I think when you've got someone like [Charles] Woodson on the back end that gets everybody lined up the right way, even though he's been in the league 16 years, he's playing at a really high level.
I think it starts with their athleticism. That's the first thing you kind of see on tape is that they run really well. A lot of times long runs don't happen when everybody runs to the ball, and that's what I think the Raiders are doing right now.
COACH KELLY: He's going to come out and practice today. Yeah, he hurt his ankle. He should be full. We'll see what he can do and what the effects are, but he just rolled it or tweaked it or whatever, but he's going today.
COACH KELLY: He's going to try to go today. I don't know exactly what extent he is, and today is a big day to kind of see where he is and what he can do and can't do. But he's going to give it a shot and run around a little bit today. He did not do anything on Tuesday or Wednesday, though.
COACH KELLY: I don't know until we get everybody out there practicing.
You guys are a much better tackling team than we've seen around here the last couple years. What did you do to make that happen?
COACH KELLY: We work on tackling every day as a fundamental in practice, and I think we've got a defensive staff that teaches it really, really well. There's obviously concerns with tackling and how do you get that done without injuring other guys, but I think they've done a good job from a ‑‑ it's been since day one since we've been here. They taught it during OTAs, the mechanics of it, the fundamentals of it and how that works. That continued through training camp. And really tackling is a fundamental deal, and it has to be practiced every day. It's no different than blocking. But it's something that we emphasize.
The other thing that's always key to tackling is how many people do you get to the ball, so it's not open field tackling all the time. If you get everybody that consistently runs to the football and we're swarming the ball carrier, then it makes tackling a lot easier because the guy doesn't have as much space to go.
In that regard, now that you're in the middle of the season, do you have to change your practice routine at all?
COACH KELLY: I think we know what we're doing, and part of the CBA is that, you can only have one padded practice a week for the first 11 weeks. There's only 14 padded practices total during the entire season. But I think we can do a good job fundamentally. You're not taking people to the ground, but I still think you can practice your approach, long strike, short strike, stagger strike, all that stuff, without taking guys to the ground, but I think it's what you emphasize every day in practice.
I think one of the things we want to pride ourselves on is being a good fundamental football team, and the only way you can be a good fundamental football team is to practice the fundamentals.
I think Pat Chung practiced full last week but didn’t play. What do you think you can get out of him this point with his shoulder?
COACH KELLY: It's his feel for what he can do. He can run around full speed. It's can he take a hit and we're not hitting full speed. He was a little bit more aggressive today in pads because he's got to test himself a little bit. He's doing some work on the sled to see how it responds to that, and we'll see. I think it's frustrating for Pat. If you saw Pat last week in practice, he played look squad receiver and he played look squad DB and flew around and took every single rep, and we couldn't get him out, and he's running around full speed. It's just can he take a hit, and he's still trying to gauge that a little bit. He was pretty physical yesterday in practice and it'll be interesting to see how he responds. But we're hopeful that we can get Pat back this week.
You signed a fair amount of free agents in the off‑season. Some of them have been very productive for you and some haven't. Your first time through with this, how do you look at that whole process? Is it an inexact science? Do you just accept some guys are going to hit and some don't?
COACH KELLY: I think everything is an inexact science. I think sometimes you miss on a draft pick, and you have a lot of time to do that. It's just what's available, what have you got to do, you've got to get your roster together, you've got to have 53 guys up and you go from there. You always analyze at the end of the year saying what did we do good, what did we do bad. If this guy isn't exactly what we thought he was, why is that, and evaluate the whole process. And that's an ongoing thing.
You have a roster spot open. When do you expect to make a move?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, we're working on that right now and who's coming up. A lot of that has to do with where are we as a team, and some of the guys we just talked about, where are they in practice, so if they're going, can they go, are they going to be active, are they not going to be active. We've got an idea what direction we want to go, but until we see everybody finish practice today, probably not going to do anything until at least the weekend.
Do you have a sense of where
COACH KELLY: No, I mean, I know how confident Nick is in practice but practice and games are different things. But I think he understands how he played in the Dallas game and how he's practicing right now. He's practicing really well. We'll see. But it's a daily basis. Sometimes that position is a lot like a golfer. You can go one week and be in contention and you're leading and you have a great round, and the next week the guy doesn't make the cut, and that's unfortunate. But what we need out of Nick is consistency, and he understands that. So that's what he's working for in practice right now.
At this point in the season is the full breadth of your offense on display?
COACH KELLY: Are we breathing on people or do you mean breadth with a D? We still have plays that we can run, but everything we do, it's like everything we have, conversations we have is on a weekly basis, depending on what the defense is doing. Are they a 3‑4 operation and we'll feature more of this; are they a 4‑3 scheme, one‑gap 4‑3 scheme, we'll feature more of that; do they blitz more, we'll feature more of that; are they a man scheme, we'll feature more of that. There are some things that we haven't done that we touch base on in preseason camp that may come up in this game and may come up two games down the road. You know, so that's part of it, but every week no matter what you do, you have a scope of offense that's in, but then you have a scope of offense that we're running this week, and that's kind of how we pare it down.
You're not going into a game with 150 plays to select from. You pare it down because it's what you practice that week.
You talked about
COACH KELLY: No, it's the same, whether you're over a tackle ‑‑ if you're a two‑gap guy, whether you're a two‑gap and a tackle or a two‑gap and a center, it's the same process. Long levers are strong levers, and you want to create ‑‑ offensive football is body on body, defense football is body off body. You want to get off of blocks, and it's very difficult if you've got alligator arms and you're in here because you're going to get locked up. You need to get extension. You need to destroy blocks, and one of the ways to do that is to have long arms. Whether you're lined up on a tackle or whether you're lined up on a center, the mechanics of doing that doesn't change and the ability to have length at that position helps.
So it's the same thing, but it's critical for everybody across the defensive front.
Going with the golf analogy, what do you think is a fair sample size so you can really get a feel for where Nick is? How long do you have to see him?
COACH KELLY: Three tournaments (joking). I don't know. I mean, how long do I have to see him? As long as he's healthy. I think that's part of it, too. You just can't say, hey, I've got a sample size of this. But unlike golf, playing quarterback there's 10 other guys you're depending on. You can go out there and say, boy, the quarterback had a not so good day, but he was also getting hit in the head because the left tackle couldn't protect. So every time he got to the top of his drop and put his foot in the ground to throw the ball, he couldn't step through and throw it because he was getting hit.
And that's the difference. There are some analogies from a consistency standpoint, but golf is you. You don't hit your drive and then turn around and blame it on the left tackle. [Howard] Eskin may do that, but it doesn't work that way. It's you, and it's you out there the entire time.
In football sometimes it's difficult, and we all know, and the quarterback I think probably gets too much praise when you're winning and gets too much grief when he's losing. There's a lot of times when you're like, he's going to throw the ball, he can't take that sack, but he thought the three technique was blocked, the scheme had the three technique blocked, left guard stepped right, left tackle stepped left, and the kid came in clean. How come he doesn't know that? Because when we put the play in and we've run the play, that guy is supposed to be blocked. So it is a little bit different from that standpoint just because it's not always just a cut and dry thing. If you shoot a 68, you shoot a 68. If you shot a 78, you shot a 78. There's no one else to blame it on, and unfortunately I try to blame it on people when I play golf, but I can't.
What's your gauge for the players’ attitudes right now?
COACH KELLY: You know, the one thing about this group is I think they have a great attitude. Every single day they're in this building, and we talk about that all the time. That's your choice. It takes the same amount of time to be miserable as it does to be happy, and you choose what you're going to do. And these guys, the group we have here love playing. They love being out here. They understand the win, that you have to win during the week. You don't just win on Sunday. You don't just show up on Sunday and hope that good things happen. There's a certain amount of work that goes in. There's a certain rhythm we have to get into. They've been really good from that standpoint, and that's an encouraging thing.
I think you guys can tell there's an energy around every time these guys come running out on the field, which is a positive thing. That's the only way we're going to get this thing straightened out is if we go out there and put our best effort in on a Thursday, because that's what the deal is for us to be successful on Sunday.
You've talked a lot about what Nick Foles didn't do against the Cowboys. Have you guys talked internally about why it happened and understand why a guy who had such a great game the week before and the week before that would play that way, and do you need to understand why it happened to make sure it doesn't happen again?
COACH KELLY: You know, I think when you go through everything you analyze it, and again, there's not one thing. You just can't say, aha, his step was nine inches and it should have been three inches, and we correct that step, we're good. One play is different from the next play, and I think overall the scope of things, he can do a better job in his setup and getting his feet set a little better and he can do a better job in terms of his shoulder plane and how he's delivering the football. Those are all things we work on. But when you get out there, you've still got to go play. And I think sometimes you can paralyze him, and I'll use the golf analogy. If you stand over the ball and you think about 9 million things before you hit it, you're not going to hit it very well. Sometimes, as I told Nick, grip it and rip it, let's go. He's thrown a lot of really good passes since I've been around him, and he's been really good with the football. He's thrown six touchdowns, hasn't thrown an interception yet. So sometimes I think we can overanalyze that.
The big thing for him is let's just get him back in the flow. Let's get in a rhythm. That's the biggest thing. Can you get in a rhythm, can you get your feet set, can you throw the ball?
Do you think most of his issues were mechanical?
COACH KELLY: I didn't say that.
COACH KELLY: Did you say that?
COACH KELLY: Interpreting? No, I think it's a combination is what I said.
I know you kind of explained why there's really no benefit in being in Oakland two days early to avoid jet lag. Can you run that by me again?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, it takes a week to get acclimated, so unless we went out a week ago, I don't think ‑‑ and again, a lot of it ‑‑ well, Les wants to go out a week early, but a lot of it depends most of the time on some of that stuff, one is the kick. So the kick for us is at 4:00. That's kind of how our approach is to it. So our day is set up for a 4:00 kick, so you just kind of add the three. So the biggest difficulty is if you're east coming west, when you have a 1:00 kick, that's a 10:00 kick, so then your day gets off a little bit. But the effects from everything we've talked about, really you're not going to change anything from a time zone difference on one day. It's a go play. The fortunate thing for us is we don't have to play early. We're playing a little bit later. We adjust our schedule accordingly.
At the halfway point in the season, is the learning done for players now that they’ve learned all of the X’s and O’s?
COACH KELLY: No. Every day we work at it, and I think every day you have to continue to look at what you do and how do we do it better and continue to work at it, and I say this all the time: You never arrive. You never arrive as a player. You never arrive as a coach, you never arrive as an organization. Every single day we've got to strive to do things better than we did them yesterday, and that's always been our approach. It's not like, all right, we're good, they've got it. There's always something every day that we've got to cover this, we've got to cover that, and I think that's always been an approach and I think it's always been a healthy approach, and I think to be successful in anything you do, you've got to be that way. You can never just say, hey, we've got it.
I think the time you say you've got it, you're going to get passed on by pretty quickly.
Do they understand what you expect of them when you kind of introduce a whole lot of new things that probably hadn't been around for ‑‑ are they past that and now it’s all about winning football games and not necessarily new culture or the things that you brought in?
COACH KELLY: No, because I guess to answer that question again, I still think it's an everyday thing. Just because you did it right yesterday – we talk about it: Bad habits are like a bed; they're easy to get into and hard to get out of. You've got to continually, every single day, set your mindset that this is what we're going to do. And why are teams successful and then all of a sudden they make a run and then they can't make a run? Because they're late for practice.