By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, September 9th, 2008 at 2:57 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Some quick hits from Lane Kiffin’s press briefing Tuesday on a 41-14 loss to the Denver Broncos before an on-line chat between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.:
– Tackle-guard Paul McQuistan appears to be out for the season with a knee injury. Left tackle Kwame Harris (knee) was feeling better Tuesday morning and Kiffin wanted to see him on the field Wednesday.
– Kiffin said he anticipates running back Darren McFadden (stinger) would play against Kansas City, and that his injury, which aggravated a condition sustained earlier in the week in practice, was the result of a “cheap shot.”
He praised the rookie for running hard and taking gains that were there, rather than trying to bounce everything outside “make everything a 50-yard run.”
– Kiffin thought part of the Raiders trouble was players “trying to do too much” in an opening week game on national television and said he felt bad for the sellout crowd which was expecting much better.
“That place was electric. I havent been here very long, but it was different than any game I’ve been at before,” Kiffin said.
As a result, players wanted to play “harder and faster” and may not have maintained their composure.
“Unfortunately we didn’t play the way we needed for (the fans) to be involved in the game,” Kiffin said. “We screwed that up.”
– Kiffin said the effort level for the most part was good, but said there were a few instances where problems in that area would be addressed.
– When assessing the defense, Kiffin said he thought assignment and communication errors were a bigger issue than poor tackling. He admitted surprise in the Raiders having so much trouble defending the pass.
“I thought it would be a strength of ours, especially with Brandon Marshall out of the game,” he said.
– Rather than be concerned about young players who were absorbing their first NFL blowout and the affect on their psyche, Kiffin was more worried about the veterans.
“Look at the guys that didn’t play well, they werent young guys, they were veteran guys,” Kiffin said. “Let’s worry about those guys before the young guys.”
– To blitz or not to blitz? It’s pretty clear the Raiders chose the latter against Denver and it was an abysmal failure.
“We had 10 third downs, we had pressure one time,” Kiffin said. “It’s something we’re looking at versus Kansas City this week and hopefully we’ll do more of it.”
– Kiffin exonerated DeAngelo Hall for the second of his consecutive unnecessary roughness penalties.
“I can’t find it,” he said.
– When asked if all the offseason turmoil had affected the Raiders on the field for Week 1, Kiffin said, “If it does I can’t go back and change it. I don’t know how that has to do with the penalties we had, the blown assigments, the missed coverages. I can’t change it. All I can do is take it one day at a time . . . we’ve got to find ways to play better, coach better.”
Have got to give Kiffin points for consistency. He has never once gone the “media fabrication” route and tried to sell the notion that there never were any offseason issues between himself and Al Davis.
– If you’re expecting Kiffin to open things up for quarterback JaMarcus Russell against the Chiefs, guess again.
“I think it’s pretty easy to look at something and say we should have passed more. Why did (Russell) play well? Because we were running, because of play-action, the threat of the run, the formations we used. It’s easy to second-guess it,” Kiffin said. “I don’t have any proof except that the guy played well. If I had the chance to re-do it, I wouldn’t.”
The coached praised Russell’s patience and resolve.
“You see a young quarterback in a game like that and things can get real ugly,” Kiffin said, noting last year’s Jacksonville blowout as an example. “He didnt try win game in one play. He didnt luck into things. He earned what what he got with some new players playing around him. He led last night, and when thing were going bad around him he didn’t let it bother him.”
– If there was a turning point in the blowout, Kiffin thought it came when Russell had his lone turnover, with the ball slipping out of his hands for a fumble which the coach said would have been a touchdown pass to McFadden on a screen pass.
“To go down and score after they scored would have been big,” Kiffin said.
– Kiffin didn’t want to form any concrete opinions based on one game, reasoning a win in Kansas City would dramatically change the landscape. He wanted to see a few games before determining team strengths and weaknesses.
“You see it every week in the NFL, all of a sudden someone is the new AFC or NFC champion one week, and the next they’re the worst team in the league,” Kiffin said.