By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, December 21st, 2009 at 4:27 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes and quotes following Tom Cable’s press conference Monday following a 20-19 win over the Denver Broncos:
– One of the most consistent complaints among Raiders fans concerning Cable’s use of personnel is the underutilization of running back Michael Bush.
Bush gained 133 yards on 18 carries and had a 23-yard touchdown run against Denver, owns each of the last three 100-yard games by an Oakland runner and is currently the Raiders leading rusher with 519 yards on 103 carries, and has the best yards per carry average at 5.0.
Yet Bush vanishes for long stretches _ he carried only four times for nine yards in the previous three games and didn’t get a single touch in a 34-13 loss to Washington.
I said to Cable that people wonder why he simply doesn’t commit to 15 or more carries for Bush per game and work from there.
“I do that too, sometimes, really,’’ Cable said.
“The real issue is we have gotten ourselves in a turnover issue or (have fallen behind) and it’s taken us away from that,’’ Cable said. “That’s not fair to anybody, but it is what it is, and that’s the situation we have to eliminate. When that happens I think we’ll see whoever getting it 15, 20 shots at it.’’
Cable said fumbles have not affected his judgment about how he uses the backs. Both Bush and McFadden quickly got carries following fumbles against Denver.
– As promising as it was for JaMarcus Russell to come through against Denver with the game on the line, it’s apparent enough things went wrong on the two prior series that Cable isn’t considering reinstating him as the starter unless absolutely necessary.
“What I’m proud of him is kind of persevering and he made the ones that counted right there at the end to get it done, and that’s a big deal for him personally,’’ Cable said. “I think it’s good for his teammates to see him go in there in that situation and get it done when it really had to get done.’’
The quarterback situation will be come clear Wednesday, and Cable wouldn’t yet rule out Bruce Gradkowski. If Gradkowski were to recover sufficiently and miss only a single game with two MCL tears, aside from being a medical miracle, he’d be the starting quarterback.
Since Frye is the choice to start (assuming Gradkowski can’t play) if he passes neurological exams following a concussion, it makes sense he would be the backup. Presumably, Russell’s game ball will keep him ahead of J.P. Losman.
– While Frye’s stats were unimpressive (9-for-17, 68 yards, a 38.4 passer rating), Cable gave him a “B’’ and thought he was two throws away _ deep passes to Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy _ from an exceptional game.
On both throws, Cable said Frye had gotten a safety out of position and took legitimate deep shots. He also lauded Frye for taking over when the helmet radio went out and called plays based on his personnel groups with no sign of panic.
– Asked about how he has responded to all the off-field aspects which blindsided his first full year as Raiders coach, as well as dealing with a makeshift offensive line and quarterback problems, Cable cited the work ethic of his team and his belief things are turning for the better.
“I knew the truth and trusted the system, and it’s worked the way it’s supposed to,’’ Cable said. “My passion for turning this thing around and going to the playoffs with the Oakland Raiders is the coolest thing to me.
“I want that more than anything, and it’s not going to happen this year, but it’s going ot happen soon.’’
– Sunday’s win was Cable’s most satisfying because “of the quarterback issue’’ and the fact that “nobody blinked. I think that’s what makes you who you’re becoming and makes you a champion.’’
– Aside from Russell, who Cable said following the game had won a game ball, other recipients were Bush and Tony Stewart on offense, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, middle linebacker Kirk Morrison and defensive end Greg Ellis on defense, and Sebastian Janikowski on special teams.
After the loss of Brandon Myers to a concussion, Stewart was responsible for lining up emergency tight end Erik Pears, an offensive lineman whose girth added to the Raiders rushing attack that finished with a season-high 241 yards on 34 carries.
Stewart also had three receptions for 27 yards, including an 11-yard first down catch on fourth-and-10 on the final drive.
Pears had studied up on playing tight end in an emergency but hadn’t taken a single rep there during the week.
“We kind of did it by the seat of our pants and he made it work,’’ Cable said.
– Greg Ellis didn’t practice until Friday and estimates he played only 30 snaps, a schedule he will probably continue throughout the season.
“The Cincinnati game I think I made a mistake because I played 61 plays coming back less than two weeks off a scoped knee and shoulder,’’ Ellis said. “Probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. That probably set me back some.’’
– Cable said he hoped Darrius Heyward-Bey would be on the field running this week. He said an ankle injury to cornerback Chris Johnson and knee sprains to Cooper Carlisle and Justin Fargas seemed relatively minor.
Tight end Brandon Myers will join Frye and Zach Miller in line at the computer taking tests to determine if they can return from concussions.