Henderson, NV.--The Las Vegas Raiders have a new man in charge, and while Rich Bisaccia always dreamed of being a head man, he never saw it happening like this.
You can watch his entire press conference above, or read the transcript (Courtesy of the Raiders) below
Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia
Opening Statement: “Good afternoon. My name is Rich Bisaccia and before we get started, I’d like to read something to you that I prepared with help from people I care about and that care about me, and then we’ll go from there. Before we talk about our team or our game at Denver, I feel it’s important to acknowledge the significance of this moment. Coach Gruden gave me a chance to coach in the National Football League, I’ll always be appreciative of that. That being said, we all have a responsibility here and have to be held accountable to our words and our actions. No one person is bigger than the Raider shield. The Raiders have always stood for diversity, inclusion, social justice. It’s important to live those ideals and carry them into the future. We cannot change the past, but we can do more to maybe make tomorrow better. That’s kind of where I’m at, I can answer some questions for you and go from there.”
Q: A lot of times when you get a head coaching job you got time leading up to your first game. Your time is within days. What was your message in terms of shifting that focus immediately to your leadership ahead of Sunday’s game?
Coach Bisaccia: “The time thing, is it ever a good time when it happens like this? I think the thing that is unique to us is we have a good team. We’re a 3-2 team. It’s not like we’ve gone through some type of bad cycle and all of a sudden there’s been a change and it’s the end of the season and the season is over. We have 12 games. We feel like we have a lot of time. We feel like all of our goals are still in front of us and my message to the team was really about the team. Their goals are still alive, and we’ll see what transpires as we go forward. But I don’t think that the time was big issue particularly because of the staff that we have. Defense continuity, been together a long time. I’ve certainly been with Greg [Olson] on time on offense. I understand to some degree what we are doing on offense. Coach [Tome] Cable has been in this a long time, so we have veteran coaches and so I think what the time did is it gave us a little bit of a stumbling block in the beginning. We certainly had to go through this as well and then I think everybody got back to work as usual.”
Q: Has a decision been made about Greg Olson being the play-caller?
Coach Bisaccia: “Coach Olson is going to call the plays and he’s been intimate with Coach Gruden in developing the plan for the game. I’ve been with Coach Olson in Tampa. We won 10 games and he called every play, so I think we will be status quo that way. He has a great relationship with Derek [Carr]. He’s been coaching the quarterbacks here for four years.”
Q: If you could take us through what happened on Friday when the very first news broke out until the announcement of Jon’s resignation and how quick did you act to try to re-energize the team?
Coach Bisaccia: “Well, I think the first one that came out obviously everyone has opinions that they are all entitled to. Our players had conversations obviously at that time with coach. We didn’t perform well in the game. I don’t really like to use different vernacular; we just did not perform well. We did not execute well. We didn’t do anything well enough to win the game. And then to be honest with you, after that the loss you go through whatever that is, and we met on Monday as usual. We had special teams meeting and had the whole team in there and then we had a team meeting and offense and defense met and then it wasn’t until later that we discovered, or like everyone else found out what happened. And so, at that particular time my humanistic qualities are really like everybody else’s and so is our coaches, and it just kind of hit us all and then after that it’s a little bit of a blur. Next thing you know a little bit later at night I’m talking to the owner and after that our biggest concern was to get a hold of our players. All position coaches called the players and let’s tell them what’s going on. They’ve already seen stuff on the internet and whatever else that’s out there, so just wanted to get our voices to them and tell them we’d see them on Wednesday morning.”
Q: On the field how can fans expect a Rich Bisaccia-coached team to look different?
Coach Bisaccia: “I guess we will have to wait and see the game. Like I said, we have a good team. We have high expectations. We have high standards. We were 3-0 at one time. We’ve lost two games, so there is a bump in the road. It’s not the end of the road and we’re just going to put our heads together and put the players in the best position they can to win a game and we’ll see what happens on Sunday.”
Q: Regardless of how it came about this is something you’ve looked forward to for a long time. What does it mean to you personally an NFL head coach?
Coach Bisaccia: “It’d be easy to get emotional about that question. So, yeah, this is certainly an exciting moment. No one wants to be a head coach in this particular situation. No one wants to be put in front of this under these particular circumstances. But it’s an incredible opportunity certainly, not only for me, but all the other coaches that are here to see what we can do with this adversity. See what we can do with this challenge. See what we can do with the next day, and the same thing for our players. So, am I excited? I’m certainly excited. Am I beyond excited? I just know that to some degree we are all football coaches. Somebody once told me, I asked a coach I worked for a long time ago, I said, ‘Coach, when do you know you’re ready to be the head coach?’ He said, ‘when they give you the hat and whistle and tell you you’re the head coach.’ So, I’ve been doing a lot of different things in this football world for a long time, so with the help of all those other assistants that are up there we are going to do the best job that we can and we’re looking forward to having the opportunity to play ball again.”
Q: When you were an assistant at Wayne State College, did you think so many years later you would be an NFL head coach? How surreal, or is this something that you wanted to do?
Coach Bisaccia: “I did not think that then. Not at Wayne State. I mean the summers I was still working at Waldbaum Egg Factory, so I wasn’t thinking about being a head coach. I was thinking about feeding my kid. Obviously, the longer we stay in this regardless of the level we’d all like to have this opportunity to be in front of the men and to lead and that’s kind of why we all do it. Most of us have the same type of personality. So, here it is, however it came to fruition, and I’m going to do the best I can with the men that we’re working with to put a really good product on the field and to give our players a chance to be successful. It’s really about the players. It’s really about the team. I got a seven-year-old granddaughter that can put a bunch of X’s and O’s on the board. I tell the players this all the time, but those are the ones that make the X’s and O’s come to life. So, we’ll see if we can put a good plan together and give them a chance.”
Q: There is a friendship that you have with Jon Gruden. Any dialogue between you two?
Coach Bisaccia: “It’s no secret we’ve been together a long time and we’ve been friends. I certainly have an affinity for Coach Gruden. He’s changed my life. Hired me back in 2002. The last night wasn’t good for him. It wasn’t good for us, and since then I’m sure he’s got to go through and face and deal with the consequences of whatever he has to do. I’m still a friend of coach Gruden’s, but we haven’t had any dialogue since that particular night. It was an extremely emotional night for all of us for whatever the reasons, but hopefully at one time we will be able to visit again. I think he’s probably going to leave me alone and wish that we do the best.”
Q: As a special teams coach obviously you work with various position groups on both sides of the ball. Just from an on-field perspective how can that kind of that comprehensive knowledge of the roster help you do your job moving forward?
Coach Bisaccia: “Yeah, great question. I think the two things that are bigger; we’re certainly involved in the personnel part all the time, how the roster works on game day, how the 53-man roster works. Mike [Mayock] and I, we’re in conjunction about the practice squad which has been a big deal now with 16 players on it, and then time. Special teams’ coaches are very aware of time because you get a little time in practice or a lot of time, or when you get a special teams practice. How it all fits and how it all works. And so, I feel like maybe it’s a leg up. I’ve had a chance to be an assistant head coach for a long time in the league under a bunch of really good men from David Cutcliffe to Norv Turner to Raheem [Morris] and Coach Gru [Jon Gruden]. And so, I think I’ve been privy to some of those conversations maybe that I wouldn’t have if I was just an assistant. I’ve been assistant on offense coaching the running backs at the same time doing team, so I feel like it’s helped prepare me to again have conversations with Gus [Bradley], have conversations with Oly [Greg Olson] about what the plans going to look like and how we are going to implement it to win one particular game.”
Q: In your individual conversations with players was there anything that was communicated to you, that kind of said, ‘Okay, these guys are going to be okay. Or communicated to you that said, ‘Okay, we’re concerned. Maybe we do need to give these guys some time.’ Was there anything communicated where you’re like, ‘Okay, we got to do this, we got to do that?’
Coach Bisaccia: “Well, I think again, coaches and Mike, we’ve all had a lot of conversations about it. I addressed some of those things in our meeting. Mike addressed some of those things in his meeting. I think they know. You can ask them; I’m not speaking for our players, but especially my relationship with players to some degree that’s kind of what I built my time on in the National Football League and coaching is the relationship building part of trust and how you do that. Maybe that’s my style, I don’t know. But I think they all feel like they can come up to any coach’s office at any time to visit with us and they have. They do. They will today, and I think a lot of our coaches, we are kind of minglers. A lot of us are in the locker room, a lot of us are in the equipment room and the training room. I know I am; I spend a lot of my time getting around them. For me, it’s kind of part of what my role was and I’m just going to keep it the same way. So, I don’t know if that answered it, but I’d like to think they feel like they can come and talk to us on a personal level a lot. I have a thing I do with the players about when we grade them or when I grade them on special teams, I grade the jersey number. I don’t grade the person. And when they come up to our office, I’m talking to the person. And so, I tell them, guys like let’s say Alec Ingold, certainly he’s been a really stellar special teams player here for us. He’s our special teams captain. It’s really hard for me to give Alec Ingold a minus, but jersey number 45, he knows he’ll get a double minus in a box with a circle around it and comments next to it. But when he comes up to the office or when Henry Ruggs or Maxx or any of those guys come to our offices as coaches it flips around to, ‘How are you doing? What’s going on? What do you want to have a conversation about?’ It can be football, it can be life, it can be things that they’d like to talk about, and I think our staff has done a good job with that.”
Q: How much are you are going to depend on the captains to be an extension of you given the situation?
Coach Bisaccia: “Yeah, again, the message I gave to the team today was about the team. If we have a team that cares about each other it’s a tough team to beat, and I think it’s a good locker room. I think we have veteran leadership. I think we have a really good group of young guys. Derek Carr is still going to be an extension of the coaching staff on offense. Him and Oly have a tremendous relationship. Don’t forget Oly coached him way back when he was a rookie and they’ve kept the relationship going strong before that and certainly Derek has tremendous command of what we are doing on offense. It’s not like we just got Greg Olson off some other team, he’s been a part of building this offense and building the vernacular of the offense just like Coach Cable and Edgar [Bennett] and so on. Again, I feel like it will stay the same way. I’m going to rely on a lot of players. I’m going to rely on a lot of coaches. Again, I think collective is better than individual and hopefully we’ll see that come to fruition.”
Q: Are you excited to be able to have your opportunity to prove naysayers wrong about what the team can do moving forward?
Coach Bisaccia: “Yeah, I think we all have something to prove every day. It’s a temporary job in the National Football League for players and for coaches. We only get so many plays, so I think to win the play and then win the day whether it’s in the meeting or on the field or in a walk thru. I think we are all excited about an opportunity to respond. We’re all looking at each other as how we are going to respond to whatever it may be. We have to overcome a touchdown because we got to hurry up now and kick a PAT. We have to overcome a dropped pass. We have to overcome when we give up a touchdown. They’re really all imposters. We win a game, if we last too long in the spoils of victory it usually gets you. And if we lose a game, if you waste more time thinking about the loss it’s going to get you. They’re both imposters. Let’s count them up at the end. Let’s see if we can win the play and win the day whether we’re meeting on the field, walk thru, whatever it is. So, that’s the mentality we are going to try and take.”
Q: What do you think the mood is of the locker room right now?
Coach Bisaccia: “We had a good practice. I think the guys ran around. I think we did some things in practice to help them, so I think the mood is good. My concern or my conversation with them would be what’s it going to be five days from now? What’s it going to be a week from now? I think players are resilient and they’ve gone through a tough time. Certainly, we all have but I think we’re all trying to come as close together as we possibly can and then see what product we put on the field. The consistency of doing that, of the energy of the first day so to speak wear off. I just think have an open dialogue, have them be able to talk about a lot of things, giving them a forum to visit with each other. I do think we have a good locker room. I do think we do have an interesting group of veterans that we’ve gotten some through free agency, some that have been here four years and then I think our young guys are eager and they are good listeners. Tre’von Moehrig and some of the young guys I think are good listeners and they’re leaning on strong players that we have in the locker room. We’ll see where that goes.”
Q: To get this opportunity is there anyone past or present that comes to mind from a personal standpoint that you think about when you’ve gotten to this point now in your career?
Coach Bisaccia: “Yeah, your parents. I mean my dad was the head football coach at New York Giants, he just never told anybody. I got five sisters, I got four kids, five grandkids. So, to have an opportunity to be the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, wow! I guess really that’s the only thing I’m going to get choked up about. Again, I’ll look forward to these and I’ll be happy to answer questions as we go along and I appreciate your time and just always remember that these are men with families, these are men with jobs like the rest of us and I just think that they are going to do the best I can to get through whatever things that they get through. It’ll be exciting to see how we all respond, players and coaches.”