ALAMEDA, Calif. – Twelve minutes before announcing that Terrelle Pryor would start at quarterback in the Oakland Raiders’ season finale against the Denver Broncos, coach Dennis Allen broached a variety of topics Monday in the wake of the Raiders’ 26-13 loss at the San Diego Chargers.
Among them: that his mind was not changed after watching the tape of Rod Streater’s ruled non-catch of what would have been a 39-yard touchdown reception.
“I still believe that he had possession of the ball, he went to the ground, maintained possession and that the ball was pulled from him after he had,” Allen said. He paused and then added, “I thought it was a touchdown.”
“My thinking was that Mike Jenkins playing in the football game gave us the best opportunity to have success,” Allen said. “There’s a point in time where you have those conversations, and I had a conversation with him when the drive was over, but in the middle of the drive I felt he gave us the best opportunity to have success so I wanted to keep him in the game.”
That the increase in penalties – the Raiders had a season-high 12 penalties, on 15 flags thrown their way, against the Chargers – and Oakland now being second in the league with 114 penalties a year after having 108 is not necessarily a poor reflection solely on him.
“It reflects on all of us,” he said. “I think we have to do a better job of eliminating those plays. It’s something that’s been a part of this organization for a while. We cleaned it up some last year and we’ve gotten back to committing some penalties this year. That’s something we’ve got to improve and continue to work to clean up. It’s something we talk about a lot. We give a penalty report each week. We’ve got to continue to clean that up.”
And, of course, Allen addressed the Silver and Black elephant in the room. Sorta.
Asked if it was hard to remain focused for the final game with so much speculation about his job security, Allen did not flinch.
“We’re all human, but I realize that I only control the things I can control,” he said. “We only control certain things, and that’s all that we can focus on. We’re back up there, game-planning for Denver. Those are the things we control.”
Allen, who still has two years remaining on his contract, also said he was not putting a time frame on the Raiders being able to close the gap between the current 4-11 team and the elite teams in the NFL.
“But I’m very confident that we can close that gap,” Allen said. “This offseason will be the first opportunity. I’m not going to put limits on us. That’s something we address and we work toward when we get to the offseason. It’ll be the first time we have a full complement of draft picks and the room to do some things to go out and continue to improve on the team.”
And yes, Allen was asked if he thought coaches deserve a third year to turn a franchise around.
“Well, I really don’t want to get into all the speculation,” he said. “There will be a time and place for that. I don’t think right now this is the time and place.”
Not with one game to go, and not with the focus seemingly shifting on Pryor being named the starter.