News and notes from the Raiders’ locker room and coach Tom Cable’s weekly Monday press briefing:
— After being unwillng or unable to discuss his shortcomings or simply uncomfortable with the questioning after being benched for the first time in his career Sunday, quarterback JaMarcus Russell said he didn’t think he had played that badly and was not in agreement with Cable’s assessment of his play.
“I think today in talking with him he’s pretty clear on what went on,” Cable said. “It’s just something that you have to have a little bit better control and it’s not something that you like to do, in terms of pulling him and all that, I’ve been pretty strong against it.
“I want to push him to give him every opportunity to succeed but now looking at the tape it’s pretty clear what went on.”
Cable placed the blame for both interceptions with Russell, and although the quarterback may not have been able to prevent a fumble when Calvin Pace got past Khalif Barnes, he said Russell had the offense lined up in the wrong formation and failed to recognize it.
Again, the first play. The play Russell should be most likely to remember being that it was the first one.
— Sounds as if part of the solution is not to trust Russell with passing plays from his own 10-yard line.
“Maybe I shouldn’t put the offense in that situation on the 10-yard line to start the game, you know, trying to throw four verticals,” Cable said. “But I want to be more aggressive, I think that’s an important part of it.”
— As for Russell’s interception to Darrelle Revis, a play which Russell defended by saying it offered a “50-50 chance” of success to Todd Watkins, Cable was also clear about the mistake.
“It’s not up for the coach and the quarterback to debate this in the media, obviously, but when you see it on film it’s pretty obvious that would have been a tough play for Superman and you’ve to give him a ball that he can catch over the middle of the field,” Cable said. “He had him beat which was a great move by Todd Watkins, a great move, and you want a ball there where we can make that play, and if we have that play in there on Sunday on San Diego, JaMarcus will make that throw. That’s what I believe.”
— Asked Cable whether he would have liked to see Russell meet the issue of his benching head on with the media and be accountable in that regard,and this was his response:
“I think when he’s comfortable enough to do that, mature enough to do that, he feels good about where he’s at as a quarterback, I think that will happen,” Cable said. “I think it comes with the development at that position. Probably being scrutinized isn’t anybody’s favorite thing to do but it’s part of our job. You can’t run away from it necessarily but I think you have to be at a place where you can handle it.”
In other words, Russell may be getting paid like the face of the franchise, but he’s not comfortable enough to take on the role in its entirety.
— Tight end Zach Miller didn’t delve into Russell “being out of sorts,” as described by Cable. Rather, he assumed Cable simply removed him for the most obvious reason.
“The turnovers were big. That was the biggest reason there,” Miller said. “They were big turnovers that led to 14 points and then an interception in the end zone that may have been seven points for us if it was just incomplete and we go to the next down.
“I think that’s why he was out of sorts. Turnovers were just big plays we couldn’t afford to happen.”
Miller said he didn’t talk to Russell about being benched but hopes it will have a positive effect in that he’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s Cable’s plan, anyway.
“You hope so. If a guy’s wired right, that’s exactly how they’ll use it,” Cable said.
— Sticking with Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey despite the lack of production from wide receivers has a lot to do with the way Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens closed out the season last year.
“By playing Johnnie Lee and Chaz at the end, we were able to have their breakthrough and it kind of happened at the same time JaMarcus had his in terms of improvement,” Cable said. “So you now where your future is and you want to go with it.”
Not surprisingly, the same sentiment was espoused by Al Davis when Cable was hired, believing that Lane Kiffin had slowed the development of both receivers by not playing them earlier.
— Murphy wisely kept his distance from having an opinion on quarterback play.
“I’m a rookie man. I don’t know how this quarterback thing goes,” Murphy said. “You know, I’m my first time in the NFL. This is my first time ever going through a quarterback change so I mean, I just leave that up to the coaches’ decision and I’m just playing receiver.”
— Miller corroborates the theory that the Raiders are in big trouble after giving up two quick touchdowns.
“We have to play where we can run the ball,” Miller said. “When we get taken out of running the ball we’re not a very good team. Our passing offense just isn’t good enough.”
— No deep secrets as to how the Raiders could surrender 316 yards rushing _ the second most in franchise history _ to a team they knew beyond a doubt was going to be run-heavy.
“Ii’s just having a trust in each other and belief in each other. When you believe in each other and know what you can do, great things will happen,” Cable said. “It all goes with being accountable.”
That accountability means being in their assigned positions.
“When you’re playing a single-gap defense, it’s like sitting in that chair,” Cable said. “That’s all you have to do right now, keep your butt in that chair, and everything will be fine.”
— Lineabacker and core special teams player Isaiah Ekijiuba conceded the Jets had gotten over on the 16-yard run by punter Steve Weatherford, desciring the horror of having someone nearly run up your back on a trick play.
“I was running down, I heard the yell, so either two things could have happened. Either we blocked the punt, or (Weatherford) was running down the field,” Ekejiuba said. “So I didn’t hear the punt blocked, so I just turned, and he was running right behind me.
“It was an awful feeling, though, because you’re defense worked so hard to get off the field and here they’ve got to come right back on the field.”
Ekejiuba said the Jets were probably looking to exact a little revenge after Jon Alston ran for a first down the previous season against the Jets as a personal protector for the punt team.
— No worthwhile injury updates until Wednesday, when it’s determined whether players are ready to take the field. Cable is hoping for the best regarding left guard Robert Gallery, running back Darren McFadden and left tackle Cornell Green.
Wide reciever Chaz Schilens “is still pretty sore . . . we’ll see.” Ekejiuba has a case of the stomach virus which has also effected Brandon Myers and Richard Seymour (all of whom have lockers in the same general area). Nick Miller is “in and out” of his protective boot for a shin issue and won’t be a possibility until after the bye.