Coach Sparano: We Have A Lot Of Coaches On The Field

Posted Dec 2, 2011

In his exclusive column for, Coach Sparano discusses a variety of topics including the importance of a quarterback's presence in the huddle, the value of versatile players and the challenge of facing Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer.

How much has Carson Palmer meant to the Oakland offense?

“He’s obviously meant a lot to Oakland’s offense. He brings a different dimension, veteran leadership. This is a guy that’s been a high producer in our league and has played at a very high level for a long time. I think he brings a leadership in the stability that they needed. They have a bunch of weapons there and he is the key ingredient.”

How big a challenge is facing two defensive tackles who rush the passer as well as Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly?

“It’s another challenge for our offensive line. These two guys are very active, both put a lot of pressure on the passer what they do in Oakland defensively. But our guys have played good players all year long. These are just two more players that are outstanding players in our league.”

Are there different skills that Darren McFadden and Michael Bush bring to Oakland’s rushing attack?

“They’re very explosive players. They’re both guys that can make you miss and finish runs. We’ll have to do a good job of being assignment sound and tackling will be certainly at a premium in this type of football game here. What you don’t want to do is let these guys get into the secondary because I think once that happens they can finish runs really well.”

Now that you have had a chance to see the new kickoff rule for three months, how has it impacted the game?

“There have been more touchbacks, but also people making worse decisions. They are taking the ball out of the end zone deeper. I think the number of tackles inside the 20 yard line has increased. I think from a field position standpoint it’s impacted the game tremendously.”

How important is huddle presence for a quarterback and, given you are not in the huddle, how do you make an evaluation of that?

“I think that presence in the huddle for the quarterback is very important. I think he’s got to make sure the other ten people in the huddle are paying attention to the details and are focused on the play. From our end on the sideline not being in the huddle the only way to evaluate that is within the efficiency of our work.”

Who are some of the players on your team who are like coaches on the field and what qualities do they have?

“I would say a lot of the coaches out on the field out there would be the players like a Jason Taylor or a Yeremiah Bell, those type of players on defense. A Davone Bess, Brandon Marshall, Matt Moore, Jake Long on offense. Those players are all like coaches out there. They do a good job of understanding what we’re doing and have really done a good job of helping young players.”

How do young players gain more leadership like the ones who act like coaches?

“I think they need to pick the brains of some of the leaders to see things that they’ve done along the way to make them successful. I don’t think that everyone of those players came in the league and was an immediate success. I think they all would tell you there’s somebody that they watched along the way and learned from along the way to kind of get to where they are. I think the young players need to be able to do that and look at these guys as examples and look at some people as examples of things not to do. Sometimes you see guys that you just know that are doing it wrong. Just because they’re veterans doesn’t mean you should be doing it that way. I think on our football team our veteran players are good examples.

How much film have you watched of Mike Pouncey's brother and what similarities do you see in the two players?

“I watched a lot of film on him when he was coming out of college and I see a lot of his tape when we get it in the tape switch here. I think there’s a lot of similarities. I think they’re both athletic, both tough guys, both smart guys. You can see they both can get the table set pretty well for their team. I think most of all they’re both competitive. They both really like to compete out there during the course of these games.”

How important is it to have offensive linemen such as Nate Garner who have the versatility to play multiple positions?

“It’s very important when you’re putting together your 53 man roster to have players that have position flexibility. You don’t want to start them there. You want to have a home for them. You want to know where that home is. But at the end of the day I think having flexibility positionally it helps your football team tremendously. Nate is a guy who has helped our team on more than one occasion in a lot of spots.”

At this time of the season, how do you balance playing veterans vs. developing young players for the future?

“At this point of the season it’s pretty simple. Obviously we’re trying to win every game here right now so I think that a number one priority is to win games. It’s to win as many games as we can, stack them up and count them at the end. It’s not to get at this point in time anything ready for next year or any of those type of things. It’s to win right now and win as many as we can. But I think that all that being said I think a lot of our young players have played a lot of snaps and there’s plenty of film to go around and be evaluated particularly with this draft class.”

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