By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 at 3:40 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders coach Tom Cable did a rare thing Tuesday.
The day after a 24-20 loss to the San Diego Chargers, he used the word that sticks in the craw of every armchair quarterback in the country.
“That’s coaching, in being confident how we’re going to close it out,” Cable said. “It’s almost like we got into a prevent mode rather than just continuing to play defense.”
The Raiders are never going to be a blitz-heavy team, and they managed to get good pressure on Philip Rivers with four men most of the day. Late in the game, the rush wasn’t quite as good, and to continue the downward spiral, Raiders defenders were allowing huge underneath cushions and giving Darren Sproles too much room to operate.
“We are who we are, yet at the same time you might have a better mix than going one way or the other,” Cable said. “Whether it’s all bump-and-run, or all zone, off zone . . . if we learned anything as coaches, there’s a better mix rather than being one-dimensional.”
More news and notes on an off day for the players:
– Cable was probably diplomatic enough to avoid a fine, but he left little doubt he doesn’t think much of the rule which erased a 15-yard touchdown pass from JaMarcus Russell to Louis Murphy because the receiver didn’t control the ball all the way to the ground. Murphy’s both feet had clearly landed in the end zone and he appeared to land on his rear-end before the ball came loose.
“Perhaps it is a rule that needs to be looked at,” Cable said. “If you had that play happen 20 times this season, 19 of them would be touchdowns. If you go to the replay booth, it’s supposed to be absolute evidence that it needs to be overturned. When you spend that much time in the booth, obviously it wasn’t that obvious.
“I’m amazed there is a rule like that in the end zone in terms of full possession when guys are going over the top of the pylon and holding the ball over the pylon, it comes out when they come down and it is still a touchdown. There’s probably some work that needs to be done on that, but it is what it is, and we can’t dwell on that. We can’t make it any more than it is whether we agree with it or not.”
– Justin Fargas will be “good to go” this week in practice, and it sounds as if his return won’t have much an effect on the workload of Darren McFadden, but it could mean fewer touches for Michael Bush.
McFadden had 17 carries for 68 yards and two receptions for 25 more, while Bush had 12 rushes for 55 yards and one catch for four yards.
“We’re going to have two primary runners in every game. You’ve got to have your third ready to go. Last night it was Louis Rankin if we needed him,” Cable said. “Justin is proven and proven in this system. What it does is bring a couple more packages into the offense, so hopefully we’ll get to do some of that this week.”
When asked if Fargas was No. 3 going into the game, Cable said, “I look at it as Darren is the starter and the other two guys are his backup.”
– No chance of seeing wide receiver Chaz Schilens this week against the Chiefs. Cable said Schilens is at least a “week or two” away from practicing, meaning he could be ready for Denver at the Coliseum in Week 3 or a road game in Houston in Week 4. Johnnie Lee Higgins, meanwhile, has an AC sprain of his shoulder after being crushed by Eric Weddle on a slant pass by Russell and was getting an MRI Tuesday.
– If the Raiders had designs on eventually making Khalif Barnes into a right tackle once they determined Mario Henderson would play on the left side, they were scuttled once Barnes broke his ankle.
Barnes will practice this week, but apparently it’s a little late in the game to have him switch sides for the first time. He’ll remain on the left side and work at both tackle and guard.
“I don’t thinking (moving him to the right) is the right thing to do at this point because he hasn’t even been in a right-handed stance,” Cable said. “And even had that been part of the plan going into camp, he got injured (and we) never got to it.”
– The problem with Darrius Heyward-Bey in his first regular-season NFL game was that his mind may have been racing even faster than his feet.
“I thought I saw a real nervous, uptight young man, a lot of big eyes,” Cable said. “They’ll have their highs and their lows as they go through this thing. We’ll expect him to be better next week. We’ll go to Kansas City. It will be extremely loud. It wil be their home opener, another division rivalry. He has to learn how to handle this. No question.”
Cable indicated, however, that when Schilens returns, he would likely cut into Louis Murphy’s snaps rather than Heyward-Bey’s.
“Schilens plays the other side (from Heyward-Bey),” Cable said. “You’ve got the ability to get three guys on the field at the same time and maybe have some fun with that.”
– As for Javon Walker, this is what Cable needs to see before he can be activated, “That he can run fast, get out of breaks and separate.”
Pretty much everything but catch the ball.
– The Raiders held San Diego to 77 yards rushing, with a problem area suddenly having some promise being that it came against a Chargers team with LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles.
“We have spent an incredible amount of time learning how to fit runs with your right shoulder and learning where your help is and all that,” Cable said. “That fundamental concept showed up in a big way last night. On top of that, we have some good players here. When you put the two of them together . . . you had an night like we had.”
– Asked about Russell’s inability to get the ball to wide receivers (3-for-18 to wideouts, 9-for-12 to running backs and tight ends), Cable said, “I think there’s some inaccuracy there. The poise, I thought, was the most improvement in JaMarcus Russell, I thought his timing was better. He didn’t hold the ball as much. Now I’ve got to dail it in and throw to the proper shoulder and those sorts of things in terms of accuracy.”
– Left guard Robert Gallery returned to the game following a back injury and Cable said it did not appear to be an issue Tuesday.
– Kick coverage and kickoff returns were an issue. Sproles got loose for kickoff returns of 66 and 59 yards, with Cable saying, “I think we got blocked. I think we got out of lanes. I think we got a couple of errors assignment-wise in terms of lanes and coverage. We stayed blocked once we got blocked. We have to change that right away.