With all the debate about JaMarcus and his struggles on this board this guy can shed some light where darkness exist.
Ted Tollner Q&A - Inside the Oakland Raiders - A look inside the world of the highly classified Oakland Raiders from the writers of Bay Area News Group
Ted Tollner Q&A
By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 1:26 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders passing game coordinator Ted Tollner was available to the media Thursday and gave a thoughtful, detailed analysis of the Raidersí issues in the passing game. Rather than pick and choose, Iíll just post the entire transcript:
Q: JaMarcusí accuracy problems due to receivers, mechanics?
Tollner: I think what Tom (Cable) said is right. Weíre working through trying to get a confidence level with everybody involved from routes, from his footwork, his decision-making, the protection and all of it right has left us all extremely disappointed because itís very easy to pick one guy. It never is quite that way. Itís a package of things. For his position, when youíre playing as poorly as we did last week, a lot of it falls on the quarterback.
Thatís what happens in the game. They get, you know the whole theory, they get more recongition when you win but heís going to get more if it. And his numbers are not impressive. We donít like Ďem, he doesnít like Ďem and weíve got to do something about it. All we can try to do is clean up all the areas around that support him to be more productive and then heís got to make the play at that point. So at some point thereís a play to be made and weíre not making it just because it wasnít accurate.
But thereís a lot of other factors that lead to that that we canít say thatís the only reason. Thatís why we try to look at it as a whole not one individual. And we try to evaluate ourselves. The package of plays that we have in these situations, is it enough to defeat the defenses that weíre going against? Do we have people open? Is it a sound structure for the defensive structure. So weíre examing ourselves too. Then there are times where we say no, we didnít like that play right there against that defense. They outguessed us. But more times than not that has not been the reason. The reason has been the overall situation of all the pieces fitting right.
Q: He struggled in OTAs and minicamp, got better at end of training camp, are you surprised to see JaMarcus regress?
Tollner: Thatís an accurate assessment because we really felt like we were making some real strides and the area was anticipation and turning the ball loose and trusting. Are they going to be where they belong? Can I turn it loose when the coaches want me or do I have to wait and use my big arm? We were making some real strides along those lines because you have to at this level. You canít wait til people are open. We made strides and last week we fell back in all those areas. Thatís disappointing to all of us and weíve got to get back on track.
The answer, I donít have the answer other than what I just said. Itís a number of things that happen and there has been a major emphasis on him, on JaMarcus, `weíve got to give you a foot rhythm that allows you to turn the ball loose on time and you need to buy into that.í And he has, to repeat myself, we were making strides and ĎBamí we stepped back and I donít have the answer other than what I already said.
Q: How has JaMarcus responded to all this? Is he as determined to get better, just as confident?
Tollner: I think more determined but confidence comes with success. We can kid ourselves all we want but if the production isnít there, itís hard to establish confidence so thatís what steps you back a little bit. Then all of a sudden, we didnít make any progress last week. It was not good at all. And so that, you reestablish that confidence by hard work and then producing on Sundays. Until we start producing on Sunday, the confidence level wonít come back.
His attitude has been good. Heís bought into what we want to do. We were making progress and then thereís a big bump in the road. And I really do think that part of it is, weíve got some talented people but when you really look at the pieces . . . thereís never an excuse but we are young. We have to be patient. You canít be. You have to judge the results. We judge them too but we have to be somewhat patient with, how much playing time have these guys had on the road, in the NFL and how long is it going to take them to grow? Now they have to grow fast if weíre going to win so thatís our job is to get them to grow fast.
Q: Why is he more accurate over the middle and less so on the sidelines?
Tollner: Well I think defenses control that to so degree. Some defenses they play you where theyíre going to give you the balls that are outside the numbers are the ones you have to complete. Some defenses the structure is hey, theyíre going to defend outside the numbers, youíve got to make plays inside. To be any good, youíve got to be able to adjust to all that because every defensive coverage package is going to have both those. If youíre hurting them here, like you look at the game last week, Zach had six catches for 96 yards against the Chargers, theyíre going to double him early. They doubled him early which means youíve got to get the ball outside. Well, we didnít do a very good job of that.
Q: Schilens had ability to go up and get Russellís passes, how much did his injury in camp hurt him?
Tollner: When you lose a player that has played, not that heís a veteran, but heís played, and he was having a heck of an OTA camp. Confidence comes with production, the two of them were having a real good camp until he got hurt against the 49ers, so you talk about confidence earlier, it hurts when one of those guys youíre building confidence with, because it all takes time, he has confidence with Zach, he was building a repore with Chaz, and then all of a sudden Chaz is down, and then the guys that are playing now are basically new, so you have to work through the grind of whatís happening, and itís not fun for anybody.
It always hurts to lose a player, especially one where your quarterback and he have a confidence in each other, and thereís a trust thatís involved. Heís going to be where he belongs, I can throw the ball, and heís going to make a play for me. And thatís what JaMarcus has with Zach. They established that last year in being productive. We canít create that. We try to create that out here, but itís not really, truly created with a legitimate confidence until we make it happen in a game.
Q: In your experience, how long does it take a rookie receiver to develop?
Tollner: There is no time line. There really isnít. Itís like a rookie quarterback. Some of them, depending on whatís around them, go faster. And some it doesnít matter, they just take time to do it, and some, right now, they get it. And right now, I think itís too early to decide, do we have some guys that are going to really establish themselves sin the next couple of weeks, or is going to take them a first season. But I know this _ the guys that we are playing that are young, theyíre not afraid to work, theyíve great pride, they want to be good, and they want to be coached, and they have ability. So our job is to make that happen fast. And thatís the frustration for us, is that sometimes it doesnít happen and you get angry to some degree.
But youíve got to be careful. Youíve got to let Ďem grow, but thereís a sense of urgency if youíre going to win. So we have to be careful how we approach that, but put some heat on them so that we try to get them to grow and be productive as fast as they can. I canít answer a timeline. I just donít have an answer for you.
Q: Can a young quarterback get so overloaded with footwork, fundamentals and minutia that they just donít turn it loose?
Tollner: Thatís why Paul spent so much time in the offseason and the OTAs. When you get to now, you donít get much time for that. Now is, OK, what are the coverages weíre going to see, what are our pattern packages for first down, second down and third down, goal line, red zone, and know what to do with the ball. We canít be spending much time now, you have to get the footwork solid, so itís hard to commit, if all of a sudden things are a little bit out of rhythm, thereís not time in the practice session to do it. It has to already be established. And we made some progress there. Are we where we want to be? No, but now we have to emphasize other things more because we have to play the game. There isnít time to spend all day out here on footwork. Paul gets five minutes on that now, where he was getting a couple of hours before.
Q: Itís said you can work on footwork and reads, but accuracy isnít something you canít teach. Russellís college career his accuracy was better . . .
Tollner: I donít know what his percentages were, but I would agree partially with that. Accuracy can come with repetitions and confidence. It can. But when guys are open, youíve got to hit Ďem, whether your footwork is right or not. Weíve all seen the unorthodox guy off balance, make a great play and throw it accurate, and his footwork is all out of whack. Part of what you say is true, and part of it is, when somebodyís open, youíve got to make a play. Whether your footwork is right, whether youíre off-balance, whether there is some pressure, this is the NFL and thatís the standard weíre trying to get to.
Q: What is Mike Nolan doing, took some heat here with SF, but seems to have Broncos turned around . . .
Tollner: First of all, Mikeís a heck of a football coach, I enjoyed the short time I was with him. Actually parts of two different seasons I was with him over there. He believes in variety, and heís an emotional guy, he has them playing hard. They have a lot in their package, from a front standpoint, from a pressure standpoint, from a coverage standpoint, and they have so much that at times they might have a little leak there, but youíd better find it fast because thereís going to be some pressure on you. So this is a real challenge because theyíre playing hard, theyíre playing with confidence and theyíre playing with great variety in their packages and what theyíre doing in pressure and coverage.
Q: Any benefit that youíve been around him and have some idea what he likes to do?
Tollner: You kind of know, but in the end, it helps in preparation of what you want to have in your packages to attack it, but once the game starts it doesnít matter what I know about Mike Nolan. Itís what their guys do and what our guys do. So itís not much of an edge, really.
Q: When was the last time you had a situation like you have with JaMarcus now? Someone who lost a little confidence, struggling . . .
Tollner: I think almost all of them have periods of it. Ours just happens to be lower than the low that any of us want. The percentage, the number is no good. Weíve got to do something about that and weíve got to address all the areas. That, I canít compare to. But every quarterback goes through a down cycle where all of a sudden their confidence might be a little shaken. Iíve had the opportunity to work with Jim Kelly and Steve Young and Jeff Garcia and a lot of guys that have been in the Pro Bowl, and they go through periods like that, too. But if theyíve established enough over a period of time where they are successful, it doesnít bother them as much and they get out of it faster because they know theyíve done it for a long period of time. I think the younger you are and you havenít had the kind of success you want overall, it makes it a little more difficult.
But heís a confident guy. Heís confident in his ability and he wants to do the right thing and heís willing. So thatís where we are right now. Again, we need him to come out of it right now, his part of it, and then the rest of it around has to, also. I donít want to sit here and say itís a one-man deal, because thatís wrong. It really is flat wrong, if someone takes that approach, and yet, we as coaches and he as a quarterback, youíve got to accept that, because thatís the way it is, but there is more to it.Ē
Q: For all his struggles, twice in two games in the last drive inside of three minutes heís put the ball in the end zone . . .
Tollner: Thatís the part that to me is the most encouraging, because when youíre stuggling in a game and things arenít going your way, if you donít have what it takes, youíre going to crumble. But if thereís something in you that allows you to keep playing, which he did in both those games, and regardless of what has happened, to have that short-term memory, ĎOK, maybe I havenít done as well as I want to today, but we still have a chance to win this game and Iím going to do it,í and heís done that.
So thatís a big plus to hang on him right now, that weíve been able to do that and the people around him made plays for him, too. Again, it wasnít just JaMarcus. The people around him made some plays. But the most important thing, I think, in that question that you ask is that, the negative things that happened, we hung on in both those games and now itís time to win it and he went out and gave us a chance to win it. We won one, and one was a little better as far as the overall play, but the bottom line is regardless of how that game unfolded, when it was time to win the game he did what he had to do to give us a chance. And thatís a big plus, I think.
Q: Ryan, Flacco last year, Sanchez this yearÖ Surprised to see rookie QBs play so well?
Tollner: They are doing extremely well, no question about it. I was not surprised with Ryan and Flacco, just from judging them coming out of college and really evaluating them, you said, ĎHey, these guys are ready. The system they came out of got them ready for it.í They were in a dropback system and all that. And they were in a team that was having a little more success. Baltmoreís had some success. Atlanta, in their case, he helped turn them around. Thatís the question that came up earlier; how long does it take? Some guys it happens fast, they make the transition. A lot of times itís the people around them also, and sometimes it takes longer. Our frustration obviously is that weíd like to be in a situation theyíre in right now and not sitting here now talking about whatís wrong but whatís right. At some point weíve got to go try to fix whatís wrong and move on.Ē
Q: Chaz and Louis play the same spot. Would it be difficult for one of them to see time the other spot?
Tollner: Our ultimate objective is always, letís get the best players on the field. So that will shake itself down. Chaz had a great camp until he was hurt. Louis is showing that heís real close to being ready to play at a top level on a regular basis. Now, heís got some growing to do to. In the end, when you have more players that are productive, thatís a nice thing to have. We have to figure that out now so that we get them the playing time so that we can be successful. Itís a little premature to worry about that right now.Ē
Q: Not impossible for them to play the other spot?
Tollner: No. Itís very easy, and to ask one of them to do more than one position Ė like weíve already asked Louis to start being the inside guy on our three wide-receiver package so that he can flip from an outside, strong, flanker ĎZí position to an inside, what we call a ĎZebraí slot position. And again, youíve got to be careful how much you give a rookie because then they overload and theyíre not productive, because they donít know what to do. That issue is a good one. We have to figure out a way to make sure the best players get on the field.Ē
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