Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: We'll start our preparation today for the Raiders. We brought the guys in today. We gave them a day off yesterday in terms of football-wise. They got their body work done. They got their bodies back. We'll ease in a little bit today coming off the short week with the Monday night game. We'll get rolling today with kind of have a double session walkthrough. We've done this a few times so in terms of the schedule on a short week, it isn't too drastically different for us. Tomorrow, we'll be back out there practicing with some tempo and Friday will be a normal Friday for us as we build into Saturday and Sunday for the game day.
In talking about this team, this is a very well-balanced, very well-coached, very explosive team. They've got a lot of weapons on offense. They've got some playmakers on defense that can really get after you in the pass game and can play very advantageous in coverage and they're very well-coached and they've got a very good special teams core. I'd say since (Interim Head Coach) Richie's (Bisaccia) taken over, Richie's a guy I've known for some time now, he's done a terrific job. He's very situationally aware. He's very fundamentally sound in terms of how he coaches. He believes in a good, balanced offensive attack and good complementary football. That's shown up in a couple of games he's been in charge and I think there's good carryover obviously from what (Former Raiders Head Coach) Jon (Gruden) was doing systematically in terms of who they are as a team.
The one thing that jumps out offensively in terms of how their playing is they're really using the backs and the tight ends as weapons. They're being very committed to being very balanced and taking the profit. They have shots down the field. Obviously, one of the top teams in shot plays and down the field explosive plays, but that really comes as a result from how they can run the ball consistently and take the gimme pass plays consistently and make you really defend everything on the field.
Defensively, it really starts with their front. It's tied through the system (Raiders Defensive Coordinator) Gus (Bradley) has. (Rod) Marinelli as a defensive line coach has been one of the top guys in this league for a long time and his defensive fronts always have the penetrating mindset. They get after you. They're very disruptive. They can mix in some blitzes and some pressures, but ultimately really, it's a front four that gets after you and puts the pressure on you and allows them to play very sound in coverage with seven back deep for the most part of it.
On special teams, you've got to be ready for the multiples with Richie. A lot of movement then twists, he's always going to have some kind of gimmick or game plan up. We've got to be very aware situationally in terms of how he's going to call this. This game's going to be a very hard-fought game for 60 minutes. That's the way this team's going to come on in. That's the way we're going to have to go ahead and approach this week and be ready for 60 minutes. With that being said, I'll open it up to any questions that you have.
Q: Is this a reminder of the vigilance that you have to sort of deal with in this COVID world?
A: Yeah, I think, absolutely. As a team, we've done a really good job of the guys following the protocols and staying committed to it. I think the thing that's really shown up a lot more this year than last year is obviously with being vaccinated with the protocols being what they are, which are obviously a lot more relaxed than last year, you've still got to be very vigilant in terms of what you're doing outside the building and a lot of times it comes to you. Now look, (Running Backs Coach) Burton Burns tested positive and the first thing he said to me is he was apologetic. He doesn't go anywhere. Burton goes from his apartment to here. He gets on the team plane and he goes to the hotel and he doesn't leave when he gets to the hotel, so he's only been places with the team. As I told Burton, I said the one thing about this whole deal is you don't have to go somewhere to get it, it can come to you. You never know where it goes. So we've just got to do a good job of just staying up on symptoms, reporting symptoms. We do our testing as the league mandates and just making sure we communicate with the trainers and we stay in compliance with all the protocols.
Q: We were told there were some other positive tests, I know you're not going to say who, but are there other players involved? Are you waiting for –
A: Yeah, there are. So to kind of give you guys a heads up, actually yesterday we ended up having, I think it was 13 total positives. However, of the 13, only one, Burton Burns remained positive after the re-test. There's been some players involved. Until we know all the information based on the re-test and everything's going to happen more overnight, we really don't have any definite answers for you. We've been in masks all day. We've been spaced out. That's really our norm here as far as the spacing. The masks are new to everybody back in the building for this year, except for the unvaccinated players, and we'll be on the field later today.
Q: So far only Burton has tested positive or everybody's –
A: So far Burton's the only one that's been confirmed on a secondary test as positive.
Q: And the others are being re-tested now?
A: A large number, yes. The others who tested positive are being re-tested. Our entire building right now is getting tested, players and coaches. So if you're vaccinated, you test once a week. We all tested yesterday coming back from the game, so there's a large number of us who are testing today for the first time. It will be our first time doing multiples within the same week. The unvaccinated players test every day. A few of them had to test for a second time today and the players who have tested positive are also going to go ahead and make sure that they're re-tested. So anyone who's tested positive is away from the team until they pass multiple negative tests right there, then they can come back in with us.
Q: Just to be clear, you said 13 total positives?
A: That was from yesterday. So there were 13 total positives and after the re-test there was only one that was confirmed as being a positive after the multiple other tests.
Q: So all 13 have been re-tested?
A: All 13 were retested yesterday. Burton remains out of the building. He's been in communication with our trainers, with the league. Him and his wife are in their condo right now. Obviously, we're checking on him to make sure his health's good and make sure he's okay.
Q: Was it a lab glitch or straight positives?
A: I can't answer that. I can't answer that.
Q: Is Burton feeling all right?
A: I don't want to speak for Burton. We've talked to him today. Look, he's in the meetings through Zoom. He's active. He's involved with the players. Obviously, we'll keep tabs on Burton and his wife Connie.
Q: Does this affect your players for Sunday? Do you have any close contacts? Anybody you know is going to be –
A: That's all still to be determined, so they're going through all the steps which takes about a day of going through it with the trainers and the close contacts and the tracers and all that stuff. In terms of any answers as far as Sunday or even something that would lead into tomorrow's practice, we don't have any definite answers except for really Burton right now would be the only one.
Q: What does that do to your running back room? Do those guys, do they have to go under any different – I don't know what the protocols are exactly for them.
A: Well, (Offensive Assistant) Jody Wright's been working with them for the entire season, so Jody will remain with them. (Senior Offensive Assistant) Freddie Kitchens is also going to float and be more involved in that room. This time of year, you meet a lot as a unit anyway, so they'll be fine. We've got the adjustments already in house. We always plan for having to make sure we have a contingency plan for any position, unit, play calling, whatever it may be. So we're just going to go ahead with what we've already established, so Freddie and Jody will be in there with the running backs.
Q: So as long as those guys in that room test negative, they're cleared, they're good to go and everything?
A: Correct. Based more on the test, yes.
Q: In light of the (Former Raiders Wide Receiver) Henry Ruggs situation, how much time do you guys spend in the summer talking to your players about a safe ride program and is that something you brought up again within this week?
A: We do talk to our players about the decisions off the field. We talk to them about a lot of different things in that regard. In terms specifically to that situation, look, our prayers are for everybody involved. I'm not going to comment directly on that situation, on any ongoing legal investigation. I'm not going to go through that. In terms of educating our players, we do do that all the time.
Q: Any update on (Wide Receiver) Sterling (Shepard) and how long he might be out?
A: Nothing definite, yet. We're going to talk to the doctors today and see what that looks like. He'll be more with the trainers today than with us on the field.
Q: How are (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) and (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) doing and do you view them as close entering this week?
A: I don't know how I can define close per se. They're closer than they were last week.
Q: With a chance to play?
A: I would definitely not rule either one out right now. I would not rule either one out right now. Both guys have made a lot of progress. I know both guys are pushing to get out there and play with us. We have to rely on a lot of the feedback from the medical department, but I know both guys, last I heard, were making a strong case and a strong push. I know they're both very anxious to get back out there with the team. We're going to give them an opportunity to go out there and move around and see what they can do with the team as we go through. Today's a walkthrough day, so they'll be solely with the trainers today to kind of see physically where they're at.
Q: Just to be clear, are any players not going to be out there today for COVID reasons?
A: There will be several players not out there and you guys will see. Based on these tests, they may trigger someone else. Again, all these players that will be involved are all going to be part of a re-test process, just like the guys yesterday who were retested and cleared to come back in. Nothing will be definite off of this round of tests.
Q: They have to re-test again tomorrow?
A: They have not defined that for us yet.
Q: When you looked at (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and how he played last week, the early interception was obviously damaging. How do you think he kind of weathered that? Was it disturbing that he did that so early in the game?
A: I thought the team responded the right way throughout the game. There are some things we've got to do and clean up, but I thought Daniel, I thought the entire offense, kept moving the ball and making progress throughout the game. We got better as the game went on offensively, extended some drives, putting some things together, taking advantage of some good field position at certain times. The turnover the defense gave us, we were able to go down and finish on that drive right there. I like the way Daniel has responded to everything that's happened to him throughout his career. He's really improved as a player, he's built himself as a leader. The guys respond to him because of how he works. We talk to our players all the time, 'Guys, we're going to coach you to be your best and to be perfect,' at the same time also understanding as a coach, it's never going to be absolutely perfect, but that's our job is to get you as close to it as possible. Their job is to go out there and execute and be coachable players and that's what he is, a very coachable player who goes out there and does his best to execute every time.
Q: Quarterbacks and head coaches get records attached to their name – what he is as a starter, things like that. Do you think this losing, do you see any signs that this losing is wearing on Daniel at all?
A: The only record we're concerned about is this week going 1-0. That's our focus.
Q: Do you think you're well-equipped to deal with these new challenges regarding COVID as you go forward this week and in the game?
A: We're going to have to draw on our experience we gained last year and obviously there's a number of things that came up last year. We've already started talking this morning in terms of if we have to alter our practices or our meeting plans for the remainder of the week. We'll see how this comes out and what the league gives us feedback-wise, but we've already started talking about the contingency plans based on do we have to meet virtually? Are we going to be limited in how many times we're allowed on the field or together leading into Sunday? What's going to happen at different position groups if we lose certain players? So we've already started talking about that as a coaching staff. We started that yesterday when the first round of tests came out, so that immediately kind of puts you back in that mode of you've got all your plans kind of in a vault and we haven't really had to pull them out yet to this point in the season. But here we are, and we've got to be ready for this.
Q: I don't think we've asked you this since then and the roster has changed a lot since then, do you have many unvaccinated players? Are you close to 100 percent here?
A: We don't have many. We do not have many. I'd say this, the guys who are not vaccinated have done everything right we can ask them to. We defined it early in the whole process and I've been very clear with all the guys, I'll support your decision, whatever it is, just we all have protocols, we all have things we have to follow. If you choose not to be vaccinated, I'm 100 percent supporting it, but you've got to do everything it takes. Those guys have done everything we've asked them to. They've done it the entire way on through and they've done everything we've asked them to, so we have no reason to go ahead and think anything different of our players.
Q: The guys who we won't see out there on the field today, I assume a good portion of them are the unvaccinated guys because they have to go right into quarantine—
A: The unvaccinated guys do not have to go right into quarantine. It's only if there's some kind of a close contact or there's a reason for a test to trigger them. Simply being unvaccinated does not pull them off the field today. That being said, coming off a short week, obviously this is only a couple days after (the game). This would be a Tuesday in another week. There's going to be a number of guys who may not be out there either because of COVID-related issues or maybe bumps and bruises from the game, something that we have to go ahead and address as we get going. There's going to be a mix of guys out there. We're going to try and get as many guys out there. We have two sessions. A lot of times, someone may be more involved with the afternoon session than the morning session based on either their role in the game or what we're trying to do with them physically that day. So there's going to be guys who you're not going to see out here who will be out here in the afternoon with us doing basically the same thing.
Q: That may not be related to this testing and re-testing?
A: Correct. Yes, correct.
Q: It seems in society at large we're at a stage in the pandemic where news of a positive test would come as a bit of a surprise as opposed to last year? Did this knock you back, this news? How surprised were you that this happened?
A: I think when we saw some of the other teams go through it earlier in the year, you start prepping mentally yourself for what would happen. I think as a league, we watched the Saints situation because they lost a number of coaches on their staff and some other teams that dealt with some positives. I think the biggest thing early in this process, earlier in the year, was when it was the vaccinated players or coaches that were triggering the positives. That was the first thing I think that just for everybody was – the initial image is, 'Well, I'm vaccinated, I can't get it.' The education of it is, no, you can get it, it just reduces the symptoms, the chances of getting sick and all the things behind it. For us, we just have to remain that there's protocols that you have to follow, you still have to be careful outside of this building. We have to understand that different than last year, there's a lot more life going in. We talk about last year, the guys leaving the building, there weren't a lot of options. There weren't restaurants. There weren't different things open. This year, you walk out, no one's wearing – or masks are limited, I'd say, publicly. Things are much more wide open. Guys are going about life. I would say we don't have guys breaking protocols, doing anything illegal or wrong, but something as simple as going out and eating dinner with your teammates, last year that was obviously an issue throughout the entire league. That was something we had to watch internally and talk to some of our players about when things happened. This year, that's wide open. If you're vaccinated, you're allowed to do that. Now, the unvaccinated players, they understand what they are and aren't restricted to do and they have to follow those protocols inside and outside the building.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: Are you all clear and everything is healthy?
A: Yeah, I'm feeling good. I'm feeling good.
Q: What was it like today with everyone being COVID tested again? Were you worried?
A: No, I think we obviously have experience with it last year. Just following the protocols, doing what we're supposed to do. Yeah, I think we're all pretty experienced in it by now.
Q: Have you spoken to (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) at all and how he's feeling?
A: You know, I'm not going to comment on anyone's heath. I think that's (Head Coach) Joe's (Judge) job there.
Q: Does the quarterback especially have to be able shake off a bad start in a game? Is it hard to do?
A: Not really, it's part of playing the position. Obviously, you don't want to make the mistake, it was a costly mistake and one I can't afford to make. Part of playing the position, this position, but all positions in this game is putting it behind you and playing the next play. That's critical and you've got to be able to do that.
Q: Does a COVID breakout like this reinforce your responsibility as an athlete to embrace the protocols and follow the guidelines accordingly?
A: Yeah, I think that's something we've talked about. Last year, obviously it was a huge emphasis and something we've continued to emphasize. Just important to stay on top of it.
Q: How much would it help this team – you know you have a bye after the Raiders game – to get a win and go into that Tampa Bay game?
A: Yeah, it's a big week for us. They all are. With the bye coming up, it's a big game for us and we'll approach it like we do for all games and make sure we're prepared and ready to go.
Q: Going into a bye week next week, does it help the next week when you're not playing and you're coming off a win?
A: Yeah, everything's a little bit better coming off a win.
Q: How do you go from being competitive as a football team, which you guys have been a multitude of times this year, to getting a win? What has to change and what has to be different?
A: I think it's just about making plays here and there, critical points in the game. Down the stretch, in the fourth quarter, a number of third downs and big plays that we've got to make. I don't think it's something that we need to change or something we're not doing. I think it's just about making those plays and converting those opportunities and finishing games.
Q: One of the plays that you have done in recent years is (Tight End) Evan (Engram) in the seam and running a longer pattern. He hasn't seemed to be doing that much this year. Has it not been called as much?
A: I think it has a lot to do with what the defense is doing, and how they are accounting for him and other guys and where the opportunities are. He's a dynamic player. Like you said, he's been a big-time player for us in the past. I've got to do a good job of getting him the ball.
Q: You didn't have any touchdowns from your tight ends before this past week and then you got two of them. Is that a good sign that the position and you can start clicking and getting in the end zone?
A: Yeah, those guys did a good job down there. They both can be big threats down there and make plays and get in the end zone. Got to do a good job taking advantage of it.
Q: What do you want to see from the second half of the season? How are you going to measure the development and growth of the team over the next couple of months?
A: I think it's about finishing games, winning these games, winning these close games, making those plays down the stretch and pushing it over the edge and winning those games. That's certainly I think the measuring stick I'm using. I think that's the one we all are.
Q: What have you seen from the tape when you see (Raiders Defensive End) Maxx Crosby?
A: He's a good player. He's a guy that can get after the quarterback. He puts a lot of pressure on offenses to get the ball out on time and plays really hard. He's got really good pass rush moves. He's a hard guy to block, so we'll do a good job preparing for him.
Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: Do you feel good coming out of a couple performances in a row like you guys have had after the way you guys were struggling a bit at the start of the year?
A: I can't say we feel good. There are no 'attaboys.' We played well on defense, but not well enough to win. There was some unfortunate stuff at the end. We're moving on from that. I think there are things to learn from from that game. We'll take from the good, we learn some of the bad that we've got to clean up. We've got a great opponent coming in. I think honestly the Las Vegas Raiders are playing better offense than almost anybody we've seen this year, so they're operating at a high level at the quarterback position to the receivers, the running game. It'll be a tough opponent.
Q: What's this morning been like with all the COVID stuff for you guys as players?
A: It's a 2020-2021 NFL season. It's nothing new. We wear tracers every day, get COVID tested, so stuff like this comes up. Obviously, results have got to come back. I'm not going to speak too much on it, but we obviously had experience with this last season. It's been a different type of football these last couple years. We've got to be able to adjust on the fly, so we're well-trained and versed in that. Whatever it has to be, we'll do whatever it is to keep everyone safe.
Q: Any sort of inconvenience for you guys?
A: No, no other inconvenience that other teams in the league don't have to go through. We'll be able to adjust. It's just the challenges of playing during this pandemic and this virus. There are going to be some circumstances that are out of our control obviously, so we've just got to do the best with the schedule, but I think I've said I think we had great practice in that from last year.
Q: Is it still a reminder that this is something you have to consider, that you have to be vigilant, that you have to protect yourself?
A: For sure, it's a great reminder. I don't think anyone is out there trying to go get anything or anything like that. This stuff happens. This virus is out there. It's still out there, obviously. We've got to do the best we can with it and still got to socially distance, still got to wash your hands, still got to take care of your general health. You have to wish well for anybody gong through the virus. It's not a thing that I want to wish on anybody, so I encourage everyone to be vaccinated.
Q: When you watch the tape of Vegas's last game and (Raiders Quarterback Derek) Carr is hitting 31 of 34, was he just on point that game or what?
A: He's got great command. That game against the Eagles was a clinic, an offensive clinic. He's got great command of his system and the quarterback has a lot on his plate at the line of scrimmage. I know in that system he's calling a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage. When he knows what you're in, he's calling a good play against that defense and he's taking the profit. He's an accurate thrower, he's a smart thrower of the football, he's taking care of the ball. Like I said, he's operating the quarterback position at one of the highest levels in the league right now. You've got to give him his respect. Again, a staple of what we do is we've got to make it difficult on him pre-snap in what he does and what he's seeing, and not let it be the truth all the time, only the truth some of the times. Make him hopefully check in some plays that aren't ideal, so he does worse than 31 of 34.
Q: For a second, you said you encourage everyone to be vaccinated, right? Not everyone here is vaccinated, that's the reality that (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) said before. Most players are, but not everybody. How much does that put you guys at risk? How do you view that when maybe not everyone in your room decided to make that choice?
A: Well, it's my opinion for everyone to be vaccinated, but I can't control what people do. It's their right. I think our building is probably 98.9-percent vaccinated – much higher than America, much higher than most households. I think our building is safer than everyone's houses. We've got a high vaccination rate in this building and that's almost the best we can do. You've got to respect everyone's choice, but I think having 98-percent of your building or 99-percent of our building, whatever our building is, is pretty high.
Q: What's the overall morale of this team at this time?
A: I think it was a great game, a tough loss. The morale is in the middle I would say. I don't think it's sky high after a loss, but at the same time I think there's something to learn from in that one. I think we learned how well we can compete with some of the best in the league and we're ready to go out there and get a win this week. We're heading into the bye week. This is a big game for us on our schedule. They're a very big opponent, like I said, and we're ready to go out there and play well in front of our fans like we did last time we were at home.
Q: Obviously, you're not getting the results that you want, but do the guys as a group feel and see progress being made?
A: For sure. The results aren't the entire story. In sports, they may seem that way because of records and numbers, but it's not the entire story. You've got to take it – being someone with nine years of experience in this league, you've got to take that silver lining and everything and you've got to live in the middle a little bit. If you ride that roller coaster, you won't last long in this league. You won't be a productive player in this league for long if you hear everything bad and everything good said about you. You've got to ride in the middle there. I think there's some progress made there. We obviously want the progress to be wins. Like I said, we have a really good opponent coming in and we've got to build on what we did, and we've got to be able to finish the game better to result in a win.
Q: What is it about Joe and his approach that you think guys won't tune it out if you keep losing?
A: His approach is he's going to do everything he can to prepare us for the game. The Carolina game had nothing to do with the Kansas City game. We prepared really hard. Obviously, did not finish that game and he's going to come back and be consistent, and we're going to be as prepared as possible to play the game. I think people have got to respect Joe's consistency and his ability to go over every detail and leave no stone unturned and stay here late at night and put a lot of work in. Like I said, it's not a lack of effort. I think Joe's consistency and his approach earns the guys' respect because he's not changing with the times week in and week out. I think guys need a constant message, guys need a consistent message, guys need to be pushed, guys need to work hard because the wins and losses and the margin for error is really small in this league, as we've experienced sometimes in these games. You've got to do the little things right in order to be on the other side of it.
Q: As a veteran – it's not your side of the ball obviously, but early in the game when a young quarterback makes a mistake like (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) did, do the other teammates look and see how he's going to respond to that? Because that can be rough on a guy, a quick interception and it goes to seven points…
A: It's all about how you respond in life and all about how you respond in this league. I think Daniel is responding really well this season compared to some of the criticism he's dealt with in his career. I'm not going to speak too much on it, but he's been through a lot and I think he responds everyday in his work ethic and responds in the game. A quarterback like Derek Carr, who we just talked about, he threw an interception early last game and then he goes 31 of 34. It's all about how you respond in this league. You're not going to be perfect, I haven't been, but it's all about how you respond and how you lead the next play. That's just part of sports. That's how heroic stories and some of the greatest athletes that we admire, they always tell you about the shots they missed, then they go back and make the next one. That's just the mentality that you need to have.