Alex Smith: 'The more weapons you have, the better'


Alex Smith: 'The more weapons you have, the better'

Both head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman said something recently that you have great ideas, what are they talking about? Are they talking about different plays to run, different ways of running them?Thats a good question for them. I think it could be anything. I think the great thing here, and Ive said this before for this coaching staff, its so much about the best way to do things not necessarily cookie cutter, our way. If someone has a good idea, lets jump on it and go with it. Its not just me, I think everybody. A lot of people offer up ideas and thats really kind of the idea of the coaching staff, I think everybodys involved. Here and there if Ive got an idea maybe, potentially throw it out there. Some get used and some dont.Do you find yourself using ideas from all of your years of experience from different coordinators?For sure, just experience, things that I have done, different offenses that I have been in, yeah definitely.Alex, there was a 2nd and 7 in the last game where you threw an accurate pass to TE Vernon Davis and he dropped it. On television it looked like WR Randy Moss was breaking open at the same time. After looking at the tape do you feel like that you made the right read?Right read? Yeah, right read. I think if anything it was man-to-man. If anything I would love to get Vernon a ball really pulling him away. I kind of put it up on his face there. He was running a crossing route. With Vernon, weve all seen it, hitting him running there, fast vs. man, how many times have we seen him pull out of that and score, really was the thinking there. If I had to do it over again, more and more ball placement if anything. Its critical vs. man, its the NFL. Six inches here is a big difference playing man defense, and its a big difference for Vernon. For me, looking back at that play, thats what I took away from it.Speaking of just being kind of slightly off, it seems you havent really had like a straight just incompletion. Either you are throwing it away or someones maybe dropped it. Is that somewhat accurate?Yeah, Ive felt good. I havent had that many pass attempts. I dont know how many pass attempts in the two games. The one to WR Mario, Manningham we ran the double move that the safety dropped there. Really saw him get grabbed and throwing the ball and obviously hoping to get the call or the play and didnt get it, but that is the one that stands out in my mind. Other than that, as far as decision making goes, not too many that Id want over again. Throwing the ball where I want to throw it, and if not, getting out of there. That one third down, that 3rd and 7 you were talking about after the 2nd and 7, potentially would like to have that one back. I kind of ran into a sack a little bit. Its a fine line there trying to use your legs and then it working against you.Is it a goal or is it important for you to hit one of these deep passes in the preseason as sort of as a signal for?As far as just setting up tape? Better question for the coaches. Really just trying to show balance out there, not trying to give anybody any tells or anything like that. I feel like we are doing a decent job of it.Alex, when you re-signed here back in March you said that your relationship with head coach Jim Harabaugh was great because he was always honest with you. How has that evolved since that time? Was there any awkwardness at the start when you came back? Whats it been like since?No awkwardness. Anyone thats been around coach Harbaugh for a while realizes, and I think its a great thing about him, hes going to tell you what he thinks. Good or bad he is going to give you his honest opinion. You appreciate that, as someone whos been around for a long time and been with a lot of coaches, you appreciate a guy telling you the truth and being honest with you even if its not always what you want to hear. I definitely appreciate the coaching level, the detailed coaching, work on this. It all comes out as he sees it and I think fundamentally I have improved a lot because of that.Alex, why do you think you will be better on third down this season than you did last season?I think in the end it just comes down to execution. For me as the quarterback it comes to just being decisive, pulling the trigger, good decisions, being decisive within that. Last year at times there were some opportunities out there and for whatever reason didnt get them, maybe unsure, different things, hesitant. As an offense and myself speaking, I think just a little better pulling the trigger this year, taking our shots that are there and executing.At what point did you go back and look at the 3rd downs from the Giants game, from the Championship game? Did you do it the next day or in a couple weeks?That game watching it the next day for sure. Coming off the season, in the offseason OTAs, you have just a huge catalog of everything. Youve got every third down from the entire season which is a lot of third downs. You get to look at how teams are playing us, what were doing, what we need to do better, things like that.Are you watching this by yourself, with all the coaches?Both, literally every single third down snap, coming in watching it with the coaches, going over it by myself, game-by-game, things like that.Can you explain a little bit or give us an insight as to like last year first year in the system do you expect to get the call and make the audibles as well, but this year did you know obviously whats coming and what youre looking for that you dont have to wait for the call every time. Whats that communication like this year?Still waiting on the call. I think you just continue to get a better sense of what were trying to do. Play call intent, what are we trying to get done out of this play call. You do a better job with that, hey were calling this, this is what were thinking. If we dont get that Im going here. You get better at just understanding all that with the play call. The play call is just coming in, but you do a better job of understanding everything that comes with it and then getting to that faster, just operating quicker.Is there ever a point in this preseason where you have just been able to conduct the drive how you want the whole way just to help you with that?It changes week-to-week. Theres more on my plate some weeks than others, it just depends on who were playing and how were trying to attack them. Yeah, I guess I feel like all of our drives have been like that. Weve ran the ball really well this preseason, kept ourselves in better situations. Weve been ahead of the chains, a lot of positive plays. We talk a lot about negative plays killing drives. You continue to put yourselves in good situations, youre productive on first and second down, I think that helps your third down. We were in a lot of third and longs last year, and the entire NFL in general is not good at third and longs. Its a difficult situation. I think that kind of played into our lack of success at times last year, just doing a better job of putting positive plays together.You were under pressure against the Houston Texans. How do you see your pass protection developing this year? Is it better now?I do. I feel like its much better. I said this to CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco after the game, I take credit for quite a bit of that during the game. I felt like a lot of that was self-inflicted. First play, definitely my fault, that 3rd-and-7 sack, I really felt like I ran into that. Same as the other sack, which was really kind of a no-loss, it was right at the line of scrimmage, but on me as well. I really felt like protection was pretty good. There was the one where I got the roughing the passer. Thats the only one that really stands out in my mind. Other than that, protections been great. And I think well do a better job. Same thing, it falls on all of us. Offensive line, it starts there, but its on backs, quarterbacks, receivers, getting the ball out, understanding when were getting pressure, things like that.What can you be doing better to deal with the pass rush?Theres a fine line there getting the ball out in windows and then using your legs, and using them to help you. Not running up into D-Linemen, helping your offensive linemen out, finding the soft spot in the pocket, the quiet spot, things like that.Now that you have WRs Randy Moss and Mario Manningham on the offense, can we expect more long passes in games and fewer check downs?The goal is obviously, the more weapons you have the better. In the end Im still going to take what the defense gives me. Im still going through my reads. Theres no sense to just drop back and throw it up. Now Randy does provide some opportunities where if hes one-on-one and youre going to take some shots, just a guy who plays the ball that well in the air and that kind of ability, thats what you want. You want to create problems. To a certain extent, youre still going to go through your progressions and reads and take what the defense gives you.Would you change your reads, the fact that its Randy Moss?A little. Yeah, for sure, here and there.

Inactives: Raiders without two inside linebackers, Bowman suiting up


Inactives: Raiders without two inside linebackers, Bowman suiting up

The Raiders are aiming to snap a four-game losing streak as they take on the first-place Chiefs Thursday night under the lights in Oakland. And they will be thin in the middle of their defense. 

Cory James and Marquel Lee are both inactive, but a well-known new face is ready to go.

Oakland will turn to veteran NaVorro Bowman, along with two undrafted rookies, Woodson Luster and Nicholas Morrow, to man the middle. 

The following players have been ruled out tonight vs. the Chiefs: 

Cornerback Gareon Conley

Quarterback Connor Cook

Linebacker Cory James

Linebacker Marquel Lee

Tackle Marshall Newhouse

Defensive End Jihad Ward

Tackle Jylan Ware

Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff


Ryan Christenson named bench coach as A's solidify 2018 staff

Ryan Christenson has worked his way up the coaching ladder in the A’s farm system, and on Thursday he was named the team’s new major league bench coach.

The announcement makes Christenson, 43, the right-hand man for manager Bob Melvin and essentially the No. 2 man in the dugout. It also settles a position that was in flux over the course of the 2017 season. Mark Kotsay began this past season as bench coach but stepped away from the team in June to be with his family after his daughter, Sienna, suffered a serious eye injury.

Kotsay is expected to remain with the big league club in some form of non-everyday role. Chip Hale finished the season as bench coach but will now switch back to third base coach, a position he originally was hired for leading into the 2017 season. Hale also coaches Oakland’s infielders.

“At some point in time we knew Ryan was going to be here,” Melvin said. “He went through all the classifications (managing in the minors). He did well with a young group. It’s a good fit bringing him in, and he’s ready for the bench coach role. He’s done a lot of managing.”

Though the bench coach works in closest tandem with a manager throughout the game, Melvin also noted the importance of having a third-base coach that thinks right along with him and is on the same page. From that standpoint, he said having Hale in that role is important.

“Chip’s so good at third, that even though I’m used to having him on the bench, it’s tough not to use him (at third),” Melvin said. “Certainly this isn’t a demotion for Chip.”

It’s the first appointment on a major league staff for Christenson, who has spent the past five seasons managing in Oakland’s farm system, starting with low Single-A and working his way up to Triple-A Nashville this season. He led Double-A Midland to back-to-back Texas League titles in 2015-16, and his teams went 391-307 (.561) over those five seasons.

The rest of Melvin’s coaching staff will return intact in 2018. That includes pitching coach Scott Emerson, who took over that role midseason after the firing of Curt Young, and hitting coach Darren Bush. Like Christenson, Emerson and Bush both were promoted from within the farm system to their eventual spots on the big league staff.

All three men have extensive history coaching the large group of young players that are establishing themselves as the A’s core, and that’s a factor worth keeping in mind when evaluating the makeup of this staff.

Emerson, who assumed Young’s duties in June, will return as pitching coach despite the A’s staff posting a 4.67 ERA, highest by an Oakland staff since 1999. A’s pitchers also surrendered an Oakland-record 210 home runs.

“Similar to Ryan, he knows everybody, what we have here and in the minor leagues,” Melvin said of Emerson. “He’s been a good fit here and continues to be a good fit.”

Bush oversaw a group of hitters that showed improvement as the season wore on, scoring the fifth-most runs in the American League after the All-Star break. The A’s set a franchise record for strikeouts – in line with the rise in whiffs throughout the majors -- but also hit the fourth-most homers in franchise history.

Melvin’s staff is rounded out by first base coach Mike Aldrete, bullpen coach Garvin Alston and assistant hitting coach/catching coach Marcus Jensen. Steve Scarsone, who filled in as interim third base coach from June through the rest of the season, will resume his duties as a traveling instructor throughout the farm system.