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ALAMEDA – Dennis Allen came into Monday afternoon's often-tense press conference with a clear message. Things have to get fixed in a hurry.
The Raiders head coach is clearly frustrated with recent performances, and rightfully so. It’s clear in his tone that he’s devout in his commitment to turn things around. He also knows that winning the press conference won’t help win football games.
“It’s time for us to do it. Talk is cheap,” Allen said. “We need to make improvement and we need to make improvement fast.”
[RELATED: Allen understands Woodson's frustration]
Allen believes that will come from a new mindset, which is something he can change. Allen is 8-26 as Raiders head coach, and hasn’t found the winning formula of scheme, talent, health and execution yet.
“You’ve got to continue to hammer the point,” Allen said. “This is a totally new group than the group than we had last year. It’s a totally new group than the group that we had the year before. We’ve got to get a better mindset that we’re going to go out and try to dominate.”
The Raiders must show they can do better. There was plenty of talk this offseason about a higher level of talent, about veteran leadership that know how to win, and a greater chance to win football games.
At this point, to borrow Allen’s phrase, that talk was cheap. These Raiders aren’t competitive in basic, fundamental ways. They struggled mightily in run defense. They turn the ball over too often. They can’t get off the field on third down, which Allen estimates has left his defense on the field for 30-40 extra snaps already this season.
That’s caused Allen to re-evaluate everything in search of a way to get this team to play to its perceived potential.
“We’re going to look at everything, and see what we’ve got to do to make sure we play better,” Allen said.
LaMarr Woodley believes that happens by avoiding panic or depression following dismal results.
“You have to be business-like and focus on making corrections,” Woodley said. “Some of the guys who have been here a while have experienced losing seasons for most, if not all of their career. It’s up to guys like me to ensure that people don’t think this is the end of the world or the end of the season. We have 14 games to go. We have to do better. You have to believe that, and stay with a winning mindset. If you slip into a losing mindset, you’ll never turn things around.”
Defensive end Justin Tuck believes in leadership by example. He admits he didn’t play well Sunday against Houston, but promised to return this week with great energy and effort.
You have to play with a lot of energy and a lot of passion,” he said. “When you have energy and passion in games, it covers up some mistakes. We just have to find a way, and it starts with our leaders in practice. It starts with just going back to the little things. … In this game, you can have ten guys in the right position and that one guy, it just always seems like the ball finds that one guy.”
Mistakes have put the Raiders in a serious hole, with an unfavorable road test at the New England Patriots next week. Despite odds certainly against him, the Raiders must show better or risk sending a season down the drain.
“I don’t know if it’s a must-win game, but it’s a very important one,” Tuck said. “I’ve been on a team that was 0-2 and ended up winning the Super Bowl, and I’ve never been on a team that was 0-3 and did anything. Yeah, it’s early in the season. I don’t think it’s panic, but we have to get some things right.”