After the formalities and the "Greatness of the Raiders" intros were out of the way, it was time to get down the proverbial brass tacks. Namely, how close is this Raider team to being a contender, and what needs to be done to make that happen? The Raiders looked to be on their way two seasons ago but fell flat last season. Dennis Allen believes they are on the cusp... with a couple tweaks.
"I do think we have playoff level talent," said Allen. "And again, just like any other year, there's always a couple of critical pieces that you gotta make sure that you add to that team to give your team a chance to be successful. No different than any other situation. I do feel like we have a nucleus of talent and we've got some places that we've got to get better at. We've got some holes that we've gotta make sure that we fill and that's what Reggie and I are going to be working throughout this offseason to make sure that we bring in the best people and the best players to give us a chance to do that.
"I think specifically from a defensive standpoint I think we've obviously got to look at some things in the secondary and make sure we have the right things in place there. But again, I think that we have the nucleus of a solid football team. And with Reggie and I working together and seeing things eye to eye, we're going to make sure that we get the right people in here and we got the right people to get the job done."
But even with all the talk of bringing in new players at key positions, Allen re-emphasized that he thought this team does not need a major overhaul.
"I don't think radical changes are what need to be made," said Allen. "I do think that there are, obviously, with all aspects of the game, I mean you're always going to try and upgrade your team in any way that you can. But I do think that there's a talented defense and I feel like that we've got enough players both on offense and defense that we can win a championship with."
It is undeniable that, aside from a couple of key upgrades at certain positions, the first major upgrade needs to happen in-house. That upgrade is in the mindset of this team. And for a team that set new league records for penalties last season, it starts with discipline.
"We're gonna preach discipline, and discipline is going to be a fundamental factor in what we do every day," said Allen. "And if we preach fundamentals and if we preach discipline day in and day out and we're consistent with it as a coaching staff, the players are going to fall right in line.
"If you want people to believe in what you're selling, you gotta believe in it yourself. And I think that's the first and foremost thing that we're going to make sure that we do. We're going to preach the message that we believe in. And if you're passionate about the message that you believe in, I firmly believe that you can get people to follow you.
"Our message to these players is that we're going to look for tough, smart, hard working, committed football players that want to be the best. And we're not going to settle for anything less than that."
That means if Allen feels he can bring those qualities out in the players that are here now, great. If he feels there are players who are not capable of embodying those qualities, they will be replaced by someone who is. With that said, I expect to see just as he described: "A couple of critical pieces" added to this team this offseason.
Continue on to... Dennis Allen will not be calling plays for Raiders
Also see: Dennis Allen preaches "new day" in Oakland
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Agree with him on that - we ARE a playoff caliber team now. I honestly believe if Eugene wasn't hurt in the preseason we would have won the division. We were only a couple plays away even without him. Scheduling was another factor that hurt us - we played two tough divisions this season. So it's not time to sink the ship and start over. We just need a new mindset because Jackson's head blew up after Al died - and a couple players here and there. This is the team and the time is now - we're very fortunate that the rest of the AFC is also on the downslide just as we're on the uptick... New England has no defense, Pittsburgh and Baltimore are getting old, Denver is a mirage, Cincinnati will probably implode like they always do... It's a good time for us to step up.
I see two huge question marks for next season... will DMC play a full season and will we fill the hole left by Nnamdi? Take care of those two factors and we are in the playoffs imho. The first move is to lock down Michael Bush because we need him for insurance.
trim the fat... bring in capable ILB's to play a 3-4 ... and if he's serious about running different alignments, then we can keep Shaughnessy ... he was a key part missing from this team in 2011... having him back while having better linebackers will be a KEY fundamental in turning them into at least middle-of-the-pack once more in this league. IMO, that's all we need to take down the division... so long as this offense isn't as banged up as it was last season... because a healthy Ford, Moore, and DMC with Palmer at the helm IS VERY F'IN LETHAL! that's a fact jack!