At Dennis Allen's press conference on Monday to announce him as the Raiders' new head coach, he emphasized discipline as a big part of his philosophy. The elephant in the room was the subject of Rolando McClain -- until someone stepped up and asked about him.
I have thrown around that word "discipline" all season as the one thing this Raider team was lacking. Most notably, it showed itself in the record number of penalties and penalty yards the Raiders received last season.
But penalties on the football field are one thing. Penalties off the field are where McClain comes in. That too has been well documented after he was arrested on several charges including assault and discharging a firearm in Alabama midweek before the Raiders were to play the Dolphins in week 13.
Aside from his actions off the field, his play on the field has also been lacking. He has been seen several times giving up on plays and is not viewed as a leader in the locker room — a role traditionally held by the middle linebacker.
His play on the field and his actions off it were not curtailed by former head coach Hue Jackson or former defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. That is something that the new head coach is sure not to do.
"You know, I wasn't here with [Al] Davis so I don't know how things were run," said Allen. "What I do know is that the way that I view, that you coach firm and you coach them fair. And you hold them accountable to their actions. And that's what we're gonna do here. I don't know how it was done in the past because I wasn't here. But I do know that's what I believe in."
The next question was about what you say to a player who has talent but is lacking discipline and therefore not making the most of that talent.
"We wanna play the best players," replied Allen. "We wanna play the players that are gonna make plays for us and the players that are not going to give up big plays for the other team. And at the end of the day if we have talented players that aren't competing and aren't making plays, then we have to look at making changes. And you know, that's what being in the first year of your regime is all about, and we're going to evaluate every single player on this team and do everything we can to get them to play the best that they can play."
Which of course brought us to the question of exactly what Allen's opinion was of McClain. And his response to the question becomes all the more interesting when you consider that he just said "if we have talented players that aren't competing and aren't making plays, then we have to look at making changes."
So what does Allen see in Rolando McClain?
"I see a talented football player. I see a very talented football player. I think, just like a lot of things we talked about already, we've got to do our best to make sure that we get Rolando to play to the best of his ability on every single snap. Listen, that's what the goal of any football coach is, is to try to develop and get good players. And that's what we're gonna do and that's what we're gonna strive to do with Rolando. He is a very talented player and he can make an impact on this defense."
There is no doubt that McClain has talent. He showed that at Alabama and he has shown flashes of it since the Raiders drafted him two seasons ago. But he has yet to put it all together on the field, has yet to show it in the form of leadership in the locker room, and is now facing a criminal trial as well as a lawsuit for his actions off the field. Not to mention a possible suspension from the league.
Allen chose his words carefully in his statement about McClain. As he led off with, McClain is talented. But that was the only certainty in that statement. Everything else he said suggests McClain has yet to play to his talent level. Not only that, he states plainly that McClain does not have the motivation within himself to do it. He says, "We need to make sure that we get Rolando to play his best," and "He CAN make an impact," which is to say he hasn't, and Allen knows that if a fire is to be lit under the third year middle linebacker, Allen will have to provide the spark.
If that fire is to be lit, Allen appears to be the man to light it. What he said here is just the right message to be sending. He built him up, and then let him know that he is a long ways off and there will be no room for lack of discipline, whether on the field, or off it.
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lack of discipline not only showed in penalties, but how players on defense overshot the running lane they were supposed to plug; not reacting to the play developing in front of them; not communicating changes pre-snap.
on offense there were similar things, no pre-snap communication on blocking assignments, j campbell lining up the wrong formation a few times at the line (something duhmarcus was great at), lack of prestine route running on the WRs part, etc.
relying on talent alone is deadly. you have to develop the talent in order for it to become great. we have a fairly young team that is talented; but have never had a coach who would be committed to work to develop that talent...until now!
One of the good things about a new coach is he doesn't owe anyone anything - he can cut some of the guys who have gotten too comfortable. I thought Seymour slacked a little this year and Rolando took plays off too. Allen will hopefully kick start some of these guys and dump the ones who aren't going to contribute. Seymour might be done - maybe he just needs someone to tell him. McClain needs a wake-up call. I never understood these athletes who have everything in the world going for them and then throw it all away trying to prove their manhood in an alcohol-fueled bar fight. Holy cow - talk about stupid. The first thing the NFL should do for rookie orientation is take every player and put them to work digging trenches for sewer pipe or something. 2 weeks of real hard work for $10 an hour. Give them a taste of reality before the sweet life of the NFL so they'll know what they're in for if they blow it.
NFL.com is saying we hired Greg Knapp as OC. I hope Al Saunders at least stays on as an assistant though I am starting to doubt that. I remember Knapp had our running game going pretty well when he was here last. I don't remember if ' Ja Walrus' was our QB then, but I remember our passing game sucked. He did pretty well in Houston last year. Doesn't look like we are going to be an 'air Croyell' style vertical passing team anymore. I think Knapp is more 'West Coast'. Hope our receivers work on their route running and Palmer gets his timing down or it will be a long season.
@DylanAlexander our qb's were duhmarcus, mcnown, and walter. kiffin called the plays the last time knapp was our oc; so his job was primarily qb coach. that changed when kiffin was fired, and knapp called plays until cable took over the following year.
Dennis Allen may be McClain's saving grace...McClain needs a huge attitude adjustment, as he is on the path towards career and life destruction. Rolando needs discipline and he needs to understand that there is consequences for each and every action. Dennis allen could be the guy that resurrects McClain's career and directs him towards a path of success, a path which he has all the ability in the world to attain....
I don't buy the McClain argument. The whole Raiders defense sucked last season.
Rich Seymour had more bad games than Rolando.
Which counts for absolutely nothing as Seymour went to the Pro Bowl on reputation alone. Sign a real MLB who can hustle - sign Tulloch now.
i'd rather have Briggs as an ILB in a 3-4 lineup... then go get Grant from SF as the other... bam we're set! Wimbley, Briggs, Grant, Curry ... i can roll with that.
Good. This is exactly what McClain needs. If he cannot start playing consistently I have no doubt that this will be his last year in the Silver and Black. That is if he makes it to the final cuts. I would not be surprised to see him traded away at the end of the final cuts if he doesn't start performing and showing signs of improvement in Training Camp.
Oakland maybe have 2 players on the defensive roster who play consistently well.
You know, let's start with Rich Seymour, if you're looking to get rid of guys who go 3-4 games without performing.
I agree completely about Seymour. This past season he played like his heart is not in the game anymore and he is ready to retire. Should have never even made the Pro Bowl in my opinion.
@nilbymouth Thinking the same thing! Hopefully he will step up, cause his trade value is low right now! Plenty good ILB's out there though!