By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at 3:39 pm in Oakland Raiders.
How coach Tom Cable responded to questions about benching quarterback JaMarcus Russell in favor of backup Bruce Gradkowski:
Q: Why make the change?
Cable: Just felt like he would give us the best chance to win, and we need to get to playing better offensively and win football games.
Q: Is this a long-term switch or something that is week to week?
Cable: No, I don’t want to be like that. This is where we’re headed and what we’re going to do, and he’ll take this team and go with it.
Q: How did JaMarcus take the news?
Cable: Disappointed, as you would expect him to be. But explained to him why and the reasons behind it, and the decision’s final, and this is where we’re going to go. And he came out today and worked hard and did what he needed to do.
Q: What do you want to see from Russell when he’s not starting?
Cable: I really think it’s all those things, still prepare as a starter, just as Bruce and Charlie do. Really get yourself ready to play on Sunday. He’ll be the No. 2 guy. So if something happens or he’s needed, he’s got to be ready to go.
Q: What does Bruce bring to the table?
Cable: I just think his leadership, his management, understanding of what we’re trying to do… accuracy. Just a lot of those intangible-type things, and give him a chance to get all the reps and go out and build some chemistry with the receivers.
Q: Does the offense change for Gradkowski?
Cable: No, I don’t think so. I think we stay the course, look for getting more completions, those kinds of things.
Q: How did Gradkowski look today and how much will he benefit from first-team reps?
Cable: Well, I expect him to benefit greatly, getting all that work, and he looked really good today.
Q: Gradkowski said he began to get more reps last week. Why?
Cable: Just really come out of the bye week having as much preparation time, with extra time, getting more guys work.
Q: How much of this decision has to do with Russell’s inability to get wide receivers involved in the offense?
Cable: Well, I think that was the primary concern. Just feel like we’ve got some guys out there, albeit had a rough day on Sunday, dropping the ball. But we’ve got guys open, and I think we’re getting better in understanding what we’re doing. So we’ve got to put the ball in their hands and find a way to do that, and I think this will give us an opportunity to do that.
Q: Can simply switching quarterbacks do something to spark the offense?
Cable: Well certainly. You know, certainly. I think everyone right now wants to have something to hold onto and believe in and I think that this is a step in the right direction.
Q: How did Bruce handle the backup role?
Cable: Very well. I mean, he and Charlie are absolutely pros. I mean, they’re here all the time. They’re here early. They’re here late. They study. They watch film. They talk about it. They draw it up. They involve they’re teammates to a great degree. Just what you’d expect.
Q: All those characteristics you speak of, is that where JaMarcus is coming up short?
Cable: Well, I think this – I think those guys helped him in that area, in terms of putting in the time and what it takes to be prepared.
Q: What did Al Davis say about the move, and did you go back and forth on it?
Cable: No, no. He left this up to me; this is my decision. We talked about it and he supported it.
Q: How much does it help to have the autonomy to make that kind of decision?
Cable: Well, I think it’s important. At the same time, as we all know, it’s important to include him in everything so he knows what’s going on with this football team.
Q: Do you still see JaMarcus as the future of this team?
Cable: That’s my hope. This is in no way giving up on the guy. This is just trying to jumpstart this team and really break it down and make a decision based on what gives us the best chance to win.
Q: How much help do you need from the receivers to make this work?
Cable: We have to catch the ball. We can’t have any drops. Between them and the running backs, we have to catch it and I think we will. We can’t emphasize catching the ball more than we do, really. We do it before practice, after practice, during practice. So it’s just a matter of believing you’re going to do it and getting it done.
Q: Is JaMarcus your No. 2 quarterback now?
Q: Did you agonize over the decision to bench JaMarcus?
Cable: It was an easy decision because I feel the responsibility for this football team to give them the best chance to succeed.
Q: Is Charlie Frye in the mix at all?
Cable: Sure he was. I think you have to look at the whole picture in order to make the right choice.
Q: Was JaMarcus benched for any reasons other than what took place on the field?
Cable: No at the end of the day it’s what we do on game days that matter and that’s all I based it on.