Las Vegas Raiders DC Patrick Graham Week 9 Update
HENDERSON, Nev.–The Las Vegas Raiders (2-) were embarrassed on Sunday after a listless shutout loss to the New Orleans Saints, 24-0.
DC Patrick Graham provided his weekly status update about the team just moments ago. You can watch the entire video and the transcript below.
Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: You have tried a lot of different ways to create consistent pass rush pressure. Any thoughts on why it might not be coming together as you would have hoped consistently?
Coach Graham: “Well, it always starts with me in terms of just got to figure out a way to coach it better and put them in better spots to create some more negative plays in terms of the pass rush and getting some consistent pressure based on the flow of the game and how the game goes. I think they had 32 carries last week. Again, no excuses. We have to find a way to get more pressure on the quarterback. But that starts with me. This is what we are working on today as we head into the Jacksonville game. They have a young quarterback who can throw it all over the field and have unique weapons on the perimeter for the passing game. So the process begins there. They also have a very athletic o-line, which presents some challenges when it comes to getting to the quarterback. So, we just got to stay diligent there and just working hard today and for the rest of the week to try to figure out a plan.”
Q: It seems like the middle of the field has been an area of the field where opponents are attacking. Any reason for that and why teams have been successful? Also, it seemed like you guys decided to go a little less on three safety nets and brought Blake Martinez in to replace Johnathan Abram. What was the thinking behind this?
Coach Graham: “So, the middle of the field, I think for the quarterbacks it’s usually the easier throw. It’s difficult to throw the ball out on the perimeter in this league because of the time, the spacing and the risk involved in getting it out there. When you talk about the pass game, the easiest throws can be made straight ahead. We have to do a better job of protecting that and understanding how that affects the league’s passing game. We try to do the best we can for each week or given plan. We review everything the next week and try to create a plan for Jacksonville. This team presents a lot challenges in terms skill, blocking and overall scheme. I have been against Coach [Doug] Pederson many times while I was with the (New York] Giants) and also at the Miami (Dolphins). He presents some challenges, especially for that middle part of the field.”
Q: Coach McDaniels said when the roster was put together, that everybody here belongs here and can play here. If you see guys making mistakes and it’s consistent, would you consider going with some younger players, like Luke Masterson or Sam Webb, to give some guys some shots while the defense is trying for some sustainability?
Coach Graham: “I think what we do is, again I think I spoke about earlier, all opportunities are earned on the practice field. It doesn’t matter if it’s youth, age, or experience. We just try to find the best week for us. The guys who will be on the field are those that have earned it in practice. That’s the process we go through. Again, I cannot speak for the time we arrived at this point, or the roster. We have some good players and we had to find a way to put them in the right places. And we have to execute at a higher standard. It all starts with me.”
Q: You guys have got to get more pressure on the quarterback. Do you need to take a look at your arsenal of tricks? Is it possible to find new ways to create it?
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Coach Graham: “Obviously, when you look at it, 2-5 and we got we got to find some ways to create more pressure. We have to find ways to help the team win. That’s the most important part. That’s the most important thing. I don’t care about pressure or numbers. How can we influence the quarterback more? What can we do to create negative plays? Is it possible to get into the bag of tricks? Sometimes. We’re still in the early stages of the process, but sometimes we just want to see if there are better ways. We’re open to all suggestions and suggestions at this point. So, that’s a normal week of preparation in terms of getting ready for a team.”
Q: Looking over the Saints film, how do you improve on just being more of a fundamentally sound team in terms of tackling going into this game?
Coach Graham: “Again, it starts with practice. We need to practice as much as possible, and try out different situations. Obviously without going live, that’s the challenge, but I mean all 32 teams have to deal with that challenge. All teams, college teams and high school teams have to deal with this. We just need to ensure that we are using drills to create a game-like environment and that we focus on the fundamentals. Keep the main thing the main thing. It’s not a lot of clichés, but that’s what it is. Football is all about running and tackling. That’s going to be a major focus for us. It always is a focus for us, and you just got to find ways to improve it.”
Q: You talked about defending the middle of the field in the passing game, in particular Alvin Kamara and now with Travis Etienne this week. Why is it so difficult to deal with running backs who are good receivers in backfield?
Coach Graham: “It’s the dilemma, the run-pass dilemma, just in terms of when you have a guy that can run the ball, then you play defense for the run and then all of a sudden, now they’re involved in the passing game. It’s a difficult matchup, and you can clearly see how the league changes. There’s always been a back that can catch the ball. But in my 14 years in the league, you saw at one point where it was, ‘Okay, let’s go with the two tight end system and try to get the tight ends more involved in the pass game.’ Then all of a sudden, it transitioned to now getting the backs more involved. It’s all about the offensive coordinators being creative, finding ways to get backs in favorable matchups and positions. This is because they do two things: they catch the ball and run. Jacksonville has backs who can catch the ball and are dynamic in both the pass and run game. This presents a challenge this week. We got to figure out the plan and figure out the best way to take it away.”
Q: In terms of forcing turnovers, is that about doing what you guys do fundamentally and they will come? Is it more that you can force them to do what you guys do?
Coach Graham: “That’s one of the beautiful things about coaching, we try to find ways to make sure in practice that we’re simulating as much as we can the game conditions. The same goes for turnovers. You’re trying to find ways to give those guys the opportunity to practice what’s coming up in the game. It all starts with giving them the opportunity to turn the ball over, and then trying to make it easier for them to do so. Then, we can execute when it comes to game day. But, it all starts with practice. It all starts with film study, followed by practice and finally game execution. That’s how it works .”
Next Sunday, the Raiders will travel to Florida to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. That game kicks off at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT) and can be seen on CBS.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.