Once the company line gets rolling, it’s like trying to stop a ocean liner on a dime.
Sounds as if JaMarcus Russell could have led the Raiders to victory Sunday if his receivers had held on to a few more passes instead of absorbing a 29-6 loss to the Houston Texans.
“I thought he played his best football all year in terms of where he is going with it and his presence and all of those things,” Raiders coach Tom Cable told reporters after the game. “He got sacked a couple of times and was hit a number of times.”
Cable said he counted nine dropped passes, and it’s conceivable that nine balls did touch the hands of receivers which weren’t caught. Whether they were thrown on time and gave receivers the best chance to make a play is another question entirely.
“That’s the difference, you know,” wide receiver Louis Murphy said. “That’s the difference. You’ve got to come down with those balls. JaMarcus, he’s throwing good balls, man, and we’ve got to make those plays to give our offense a spark.”
Russell, who like his coach and teammates has been quick to point out he’s far from the only problem, was asked how much the drops affected his performance and said, “A lot. When we are trying to stay on course . . . I don’t pay too much mind while it’s happening but as it goes on it’s a lot back down deep inside. I know you have to keep guys with confidence. Keep coming at them; keep throwing the ball to them. That’s the only way it will get better.”
Asked if the drops bother him, Russell said, “It does. We had a lot of game left from the beginning but once it comes dow to the ending moment, you always sit back and think what you could have done differently. I think that is one of the things we come out with today.”
Russell (12-for-33 for 128 yards) said he thought he played well, “but obviously it wasn’t good enough. I really thought I got some things done out there. Whatever it takes for us to win, I guess I must play better.”
Some more postgame news, notes and quotes:
— Tight end Zach Miller sustained a concussion – he was hammered on back-to-back plays late in the game — and there’s no word if he’ll be ready to face the New York Giants as the Raiders take on a 4-0 team on the road.
— Murphy is either in denial or plans on pulling the Raiders up to the standard of winning achieved at Florida, insisting with a raised voice in the locker room that the Raiders were “really good” and suggesting fans not believe what the media says about them. (Like, for instance, that they’re 1-3 this season, 25-75 over their last 100 games and haven’t scored a touchdown in the last eight quarters).
— Guard Cooper Carlisle was one offensive player who felt bad for the Raiders defense despite the bounty of big plays they surrendered in the first half (259 yards on nine snaps).
“I do feel like we are out of rhythm, out of sorts from running the ball, Carlisle said. “It’s affecting our team obviously, putting our defense on the field a lot. Kind of wearing them down. So it’s not only affecting us not scoring points, it’s affecting the whole game.”
— A 1-3 record heading into consecutive games against the Giants, Eagles, Jets and Chargers (teams with a combined 11-4 record) before the bye week is daunting enough if you’re coaching under Al Davis.
Then there’s a Yahoo.com report which says an anonymous Raiders assistant coach said the staff is wondering who the head coach will be if Cable is suspended.
Cable’s got two problems if he were to be arrested and disciplined by the league and the legal system is only one of them. The other is if the team steams into the bye week at 1-7, the two issues combined would give Davis all the reason he would need to make two in-season firings in two years — a first even for him.
When asked about the legal situation involving his coaches at the Richard Seymour press conference, Davis distanced himself from it by saying, “I don’t get involved in those things. I don’t know much about it. I don’t expect anything to happen. I hope nothing happens, let’s put it that way. That’s what we don’t need right now.”
Not exactly the sort of “it’s nonsense and Tom Cable is my coach” stance Davis could have taken, and that was before the Raiders had lost a game.
— If nothing else, the Raiders can revel in the fact that while Rich Gannon has no trouble breaking down the weaknesses of the organization, he has no clue about the NFL’s overtime rule.
Post-game locker room quotes furnished by the media relations staff of the Houston Texans