News, notes and quotes following Tom Cable’s weekly press briefing Monday and the open locker room session with Raiders players:
— Raiders coach Tom Cable was more concerned with the Raiders failures within striking distance of the goal line than he was the complaints of a handful of players that they’d been victims of poor officiating.
`We had 16 plays offensively from the 30 yard- line to the goal line and did not score any touchdowns,” Cable said. “Very disappointing, because that’s really the difference in the game, there’s a lot of yards there, and we’re in drives, moving the ball, with some consistency, not as much as you’d like, but to get that many opportunities from the 30 to the goal line is very alarming.”
Particularly troublesome for Cable was having a 14-yard pass from Charlie Frye to Louis Murphy to the 2-yard line negated by a Cornell Green hold on third-and-4 (the Raiders eventually settled for Sebastian Janikowski’s 34-yard field goal) and the exruciating four-shots-from-the-2 sequence in the fourth quarter that resulted in no points.
Asked about the decision not to run the ball or have Frye execute a run-pass option to the outside, Cable said the plays were “check with me,” meaning they were dictated by the look of Cleveland’s defense, the alignment called for a pass “and after that it’s a matter of making a play.”
Frye said a running play wasn’t possible on the first snap, given that the Raiders were in an empty backfield and had five receivers at the line of scrimmage, and credited Rob Ryan’s defense with causing confusion.
“They really mixed it up all day,” Frye said. “Rob did a good job. They never gave us the same look, it seemed like we didn’t get the same look twice. He spaced them out pretty good so we couldn’t get really a jump on what they were doing.”
— Cable remained steadfast in his resolve to keep Russell on the bench, saying on one hand he was a “classy” kid but saying in loud and clear terms the former No. 1 overall pick hasn’t met the job standard in terms of applying himself physically and mentally to the demands of the job.
“I just think it’s a matter of him accepting and learning what it is he has to do to be great,” Cable said. “And I think when he does that then we’ll all enjoy it.”
Asked if he was convinced Russell could still be a great quarterback, Cable said, ““I’m convinced that he has the tools to do it. Every human being has choices to make, and the choices you make kind of dictate who you are and what you become.”
What might those choices be?
“I think it’s pretty clear what he has to do. He has to learn how to take care of business on a daily basis consistently and prepare himself and take care of his development as a quarterback,” Cable said. “We’d be here forever to discuss all those things. There’s a lot of them, but all the great ones have that, and you want to impress upon him to become that.”
We’d be here forever.
Does that sound like someone even close to approaching what was expected of him?
Cable plans on having a sit-down with Russell following the season to go over those expectations in private. That’s assuming, of course, he is still the coach or Al Davis hasn’t made a decision to cut his losses with Russell.
Cable said he expects to be coaching the Raiders next season but hasn’t discussed it with Davis.
For all the talk of the intangible things Cable believes are going on behind the scenes, he concedes the season would be dramatically different had the Raiders gotten something approximating even medicore quarterback play overall this season.
Bruce Gradkowski reached that standard against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Russell had only a few good moments. Frye passed for 333 yards but more than negated Sunday’s league-high figure with the three interceptions.
— Defensive end Richard Seymour reiterated his belief the officials let the game get out of control and said he never thought the Raiders had lost their composure _ they were merely victims of some overzealous flag–throwers.
Cable felt differently.
“Defensively, we seemed to kind of lose our composure there at the end of the first half and I thought it carried over into the second half a little bit,” Cable said. “You like to just keep your head in the game.
“Those things, they’re going to happen. I don’t think that you can allowed that to become a big a factor as we did, and to me, stay the course within the game, don’t let those things get to you, because there’s going to be things like that in every game. This game a little bit more than normal.”
— Cable, asked to review his own performance as offensive coordinator and play-caller, had the following response.
“I think at times an exceptional job and at times an average job. I look at it that way, kind of nothing in between really. As I said, that has to get better, too.”
What did you do exceptionally?
“I think I managed it as well as you can under the circumstances and what goes into the decision making, the opportunities to score points and do things throughout games,” Cable said. “Certainly in game management. I hear a lot of compliment from others that way, feel like that’s a strength and I do that well.”
— Cable thought game circumstances stripped his team of “who we are” in terms of running the ball in the second half.
— Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey did some running on the field but is no sure thing to be available for the final game of the season.
“I don’t want to go out there and not be able to make plays,” Heyward-Bey said. “I don’t want just to be out there to play because it’s the last game. I don’t want to that, there’s no reason to do that. I want to be out there and be able to cut and run and do everything I can do normally.”
— Looks like Nick Miller will finish astonishing 0-for-16. Cable said he’s made “no progress,” indicating he won’t be available. Unless he’s put on injured reserve before Sunday’s game, he’ll be an undrafted free agent who spent the entire season on the 53-man roster and was never once healthy enough to play in the game.
Go ahead and try and make sense of that.
— Left guard Langston Walker is “questionable” with an ankle sprain, while running back Justin Fargas had a knee drained and more will be known about his status Wednesday. Defensive tackle Gerard Warren could be limited in practice with two sore shoulders. Slade Norris could be limited this week with a hamstring strain.