Read the full transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on November 13, 2023.
(RB De'Von Achane is eligible to return this week. Also how is OL Robert Hunt doing? How is OL Robert Jones doing?) – "Window open, practicing today (for) De'Von. Then the two Robs – plural. The Robs are both week to week. I want to see how they respond. Not quite in the day-to-day category as of yet. We're going to see how they respond today with practice. They've had a good bye week of rehabilitation."
(I know you have addressed this before, but with that left guard spot, you've got a couple of options with OL Lester Cotton and then there's T Kendall Lamm, who obviously now is kind of a key backup now that he's not needed at left tackle. Is there a possibility that Kendall can play that guard spot, man that guard spot?)– "I think we did allude a little bit to it. But to further extrapolate onto that point with Kendall, what he brings to the team is versatility. Not every tackle can play both left and right. He does an exceptional job doing both for us. He does have that versatility to go inside, which will be exercised – that versatility – more and more as the season progresses now because of the different types of things that you have to be prepared to do on game day with the different lineups. So, I wouldn't expect to see him sooner than later at the guard spot. However, he will be training there and who knows – my crystal ball definitely doesn't – on how soon we would see him inside or outside or wherever. The good news is he's up for the challenge. He has really taken to the scheme since we got him mid-last year, and then just really developed with (Offensive Line Coach) Butch (Barry). So I feel very confident with him playing in any spot and we'll utilize his versatility to the extreme. This is something that you're not surprised by but you have to be ready for. So we'll be ready for all the different hoops that might or may not have to be jumped through."
(How did the bye week recharging go?) –"Oh, man. As far as me personally?"
(Yes. How do you feel?) – "Man, that's nice. No one ever asks me how I feel. Maybe because it doesn't matter. (laughter) Quite honestly, it was really – since I've been an adult, this is the only pattern of life that I know since I went directly from college to coaching. So understanding what the bye week needs to be, I think I'm pretty adept at that. I've got a season under my belt from this seat. Just knowing how many people you ultimately will need to give your best to and how at the end of this season, one thing that I won't do is regret my input and effort. So the bye week was all built around that. I was a dad and I had like five meals a day to stay healthy and I got a ton of sleep. I think the players in the team meeting felt the wrath of my buildup of energy because – see my voice just squeaked because it was so crazy (laughter) – they understand what's ahead of and are just really excited to get back to work with everyone rejuvenated. But yeah, this is as healthy as this body has felt in a long time. So I'm ready to go kick some extra points and get some reps on punt rush, all to the favor of whoever's going against me."
(With RB De'Von Achane, can you give us a little bit more insight into what actually happened to him, obviously? Your confidence, is he might be able to play this week? Is that kind of what the timeline is? Or are you going to use the whole three weeks?) – "I'm so confident that he is going to play today. (laughter) See what I did there?"
(Yes.) – "It was in the realm of – there wasn't tearing. It was more a sprain type-injury that the thing that you do if you have to really minimize the time off the field, is in those situations with players, you throw a brace on their knee and have them go. We just didn't really envision him being one that would really flourish with a brace so we took the time to make sure that we can get structurally completely strong. We probably, a little, we erred on the side of caution with that. But everything seems to be ready to go for today's practice and then you do what you do with every other player – I'm planning to have him for the rest of the season or no games. It's basically how my life works, and by extension, the rest of the offensive staff. We'll see how he does today, but I know he's eager to play football, and not observe it like he has been."
(Why haven't we seen a version of the tush push from this offense this season?) – "Fans, coaches, players, they all like the same plays and they're the plays that work. We've done our due diligence. We've had different versions of it to attempt it. But to get really good at something, it has to fit everything that your players are really good at and you have to be all in. If you go and do something because it worked for somebody else and then try to employ it and expect those types of results, you're probably going to fail. I think the whole league has tried it. It's something that you never just say no, it's not for us. You're always, really each and every week, you're deciding whether or not you want to orchestrate something to that effect in those situations and you decide what best plays are for you and what plays aren't. That's why I respect the play and that's why I respect that they do it is because I would love to have that success rate on third and fourth-and-short. But the defense gets paid too and you have to be very well-versed to have the success they have which is why there's only one – it would be different if every team was perfecting that. When you really look at all the quarterback sneaks, more often than not, there's somebody that's pushing, at this point in time, as a result of what they've done. But you just can't sit there and say I want this play to work. You have to do what your players do best. That's where we err. But shoot, the opening play of the game this week might be (a tush push). It just might be, okay? (laughter) "
(Of the four wide receivers who missed practice on Tuesday – Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Braxton Berrios and Chase Claypool – are any of them dealing with anything that would be more than day-to-day?) – "We released all of them. (laughter) No, the bye week is a benchmark that your whole training staff is working towards keeping in mind where players are at. If we can utilize that, you're making decisions with the player on a whole litany of things. So typically, when you get to the bye week, there's a slew of people that have a day off at that position. Both Braxton and Waddle are battling through stuff almost every week. You can feel that Tyreek is working through things to get his Ferrari the exact way he wants it. He just needs rest. He runs farther and faster than everybody. So a bunch of things like that. I think you'll see most of the guys, or a lot of the guys that you didn't see last practice. There will be some more participation. We'll kind of drag our feet with some other guys just to be smart. But for the entirety of the team, it was probably a well-placed bye week. I think the first 150 days are kind of – you get the summer vacation but then training camp stacks into the start of the regular season. That's a buildup and we try to do right by their bodies and make sure the guys that are running a lot get the necessary rest while also keeping their iron sharp."
(I want to ask you about DE Maxx Crosby. He's having a really good year for the Raiders. What do you see when you watch him on tape?) – "I love opponent questions, especially on Monday. So this is a new Christmas. (laughter) What a cool player because he kind of burst onto the spotlight as a rookie and created a name for himself out the gate, which is unusual. But he's proven why he is the player he is, why he garners the respect he deserves, and continues to evolve in his game because he is a player that has a relentless motor that has the ability to win in both run and pass downs. With his strain and he has a, I don't know if you'd call it a slippery ability to bend around the punch of tackles and tight ends, he can really get on edges of players and disrupt the game and he doesn't take downs off while doing it. Typically, in the course of an NFL game, his opponent is letting up at one point in time and it seems like every single time you give him an inch, he'll take the yard, the tackle for loss, the sack, the forced interception. He'll take advantage of that by the way he plays. He's both talented with a high motor, and that generally equals success in the National Football League."
(This Raiders team recently went through a coaching change, and they've won both their games ever since Antonio Pierce took over. From what you see on tape, has that galvanized them in any way? Has that new energy galvanized them in any way in a manner that's evident on the field?) –"I'd love to know the statistics behind teams that make a coaching change in-season. It's not the first time that it's ever happened. I think the thing that I always notice when it does occur, when you have a coaching change and then have immediate success followed by another game of success, is that the locker room feels some energy. It galvanizes people. It brings people together. No one likes to say bye to people that they know and work with. I don't care what you say. Even if you're going through hard times, it's tough to say goodbye to people. When you do have that sort of change, I feel like people try to make it purposeful, and come together. It's a legitimate tool that makes teams very, very dangerous because however it happens, if you can get a unit of players to work in one direction and play for each other, you're a very, very dangerous team in the National Football League. It's hard to get wins. I think the overall records of the teams – how many teams have 3-5 losses? Like the whole league. It's little things like that where teams are playing together that can really force results that maybe some people aren't expecting. It's a talented team. They have well-coached fundamentals in all three phases. And I think what you're seeing is a team that it means something to play each and every game because they feel that much more a part of the journey when you have as much adversity as one can have in the middle of the season, which is a staff change. Kudos. I think it says a lot about the players in the locker room. I think it says a lot about their talent, but also the type of people that they have that they've been able to band together and rip off a couple wins, which is the only thing that can make you feel better when your system is kind of unraveled."
(Just to follow on that, looking from afar, they look happy. It looks like they're having fun. I'm curious just about those traits in particular, the value of that within the locker room. I know a lot of time it's a job, but the value of happiness?) – "I think it's passion. Happiness will always be an unintended consequence of winning, but when you can have passion towards otherwise what people would view as the monotonous. That's joyful. Sweating is hard. You see a lot of people sweating, having fun, and smiling. To me, I see it as something that I can tell the question is kind of geared towards my philosophy because I do prioritize people being happy, but that's because I want them to be passionate and be 100 percent all in. To be 100 percent all in, you have to sit there and look to your side and notice that hey, my teammate is really busting his butt for me. I'm going to go that much harder. Oh, this is fun while we're doing it. I think there's something to be said about to be your best self, you have to be yourself. It's fun being able to do the passionate game that you dreamed about doing when you're fully able to be yourself. I think there's a part of it there. But it's not just directly correlated where a happy work environment equals happy players. The players want to win. But if they think they're doing something productive, regardless how hard it is, but that can help them win and do all the things in their individual and team-oriented goals, you're going to have a more pleasant, more invested, more exuberant individual. I think it's part of our jobs to create a situation where guys feel like they can assert their best selves. Because again, it makes no sense to me if we're asking guys to be their best version of themselves. They have to find a balance of being themselves while being constructive and focused. Work can be fun if you know you're not going to be judged for that fun."
(When you addressed the team today, were there a couple of self-scouting notes that you've had over the past week that you wanted to refocus?) – "No. It was less about x's and o's. From my seat, from where I'm at with this team, I'm very, very happy about our pre-bye week season. And why is that? Because we've invested enough to the point that we've been able to win six out of nine games. That's the plus. But in the losses, we got something out of it each time. That's because the guys haven't run from – guys really wanted to win each one of those games and we didn't. But in the process, they were a different team because of it, because we've really held each other accountable and haven't ran from any of our failures. So, the bye week, I just wanted us to pick up where we left off and not lose sight of the journey that we are right in the middle of, but all those hours of direct focus, of full and utter commitment. The things that everyone's cheered for on Sundays, those are things that we've earned through deliberate practice and complete immersion into our individual workday. The bye week allows you to get back to Family. It is the biggest gap that you have with your team. We see each other every day besides the player day off for like six months straight. There's a little break in that. What was important to me is that we take advantage of the rest, but we build upon everything that we've really built in these first nine games, which has been unbelievable for this team, for the journey in front of us. It's not as easy as the successes are positive and the negatives are negative. We've got really good on-time training, real-life training this team has, on the things that are going to hit us in the face moving forward. Us getting back to work, us being fresh, and us remembering the first quarter or the first half of the process, being attached to that and doing right by all that work each and every day, starting today which is what I prioritized. The X's and O's and stuff we'll work into the meetings as the week progresses, with Wednesday starting it."