By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, October 11th, 2010 at 5:34 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Note: Sorry for the delay . . . technical difficulties . . .
A transcription of Raider coach Tom Cable’s press briefing Monday in which he says Bruce Gradkowski is the Raiders starting quarterback this week, health permitting:
Cable: Three things to report injury-wise: Gradkowski with the right AC sprain of the shoulder. Will be day to day at this point. He’s over getting an MRI and all that right now. Dan Loper you saw come out of the game; sprained an ankle but should be fine. Tommy Kelly you saw come out of the game; the second time it was for a shoulder sprain but he’s fine as well.
Q: How does the win feel?
Cable: Good. Like I told them though, we kind of went through it with the team and looked at everything, we always have two categories: What’s good enough and what’s not. We still have too many things to work on to just jump up and down and think everything’s great. But, the win, a good win and there’s a lot of good things to get the win. When you get through the film you see all three parts of our team putting something into the win, which is really a big deal. And I think finishing the game the way we did, the two long drives offensively, the kicking game was pretty steady for us – the only negative there was the ball security on the kickoff returns — but the defense to answer there was outstanding. So it was good by the whole team. We still have a lot of work to do but that’s a good problem because you want to always keep getting better and better and we have plenty to work on.
Q: Jason Campbell could have responded to being benched a couple of different ways. It appears he responded the right way . . .
Cable: There’s no question. In our discussions it’s always been about ‘take this the right way and get out of it what’s there for you to get out of it.’ He never once in my discussions with him or watching him even acted like a guy who felt sorry for himself. I think something that was really cool yesterday, we were 1 of 9 on third down – there’s one of those negatives right there – leading up to the last drive and we were 5 of 5 on third down. That’s an example of what I’m talking about. When you can get that kind of production from a guy who’s been standing for a couple weeks now and then comes out and gets into rhythm like that, that’s what you’re hoping for. A job well done by him but by everybody on offense during those two drives.
Q: In AFC West rivalry games, do you disregard the stats and worry about the win?
Cable: Well I think so but some good things happened to us. We put so much into the turnover ratio this year and right now we’re at zero. We’re not plus and we’re not minus. We certainly want to get to plus but it kind of goes hand in hand how that division plays out throughout the last few years. That’s one of the breakdowns I did. So we’re setting in there, Kansas City is leading it at plus-one and we’re at zero. We’ve got to continue to push toward getting a high positive number. There’s a direct correlation to giving yourself the best chance to win in the division.
Q: If Bruce is healthy is he the starter?
Cable:Yes Bruce would start if he’s healthy.
Q: Since you’ve won twice by switching quarterbacks during a game, would you be more prone to switching now if one was struggling even if both are healthy?
Cable: It’s something I’d rather not do but there is also some history with the Raiders and that. With Lamonica and having the ability to have Blanda come off the bench and go in games like that. There is some history there. So it’s not like it hasn’t been done here before. You’d like your quarterback to be able and go out and consistently do it. We’ve had two situations now where it worked in our favor … but again I just think it’s a good problem to have two quality players.
Q: You’ve put running backs over 100 yards three times without Gallery in the lineup, is that a function of the line or the backs?
Cable: I think it’s a little bit of both. I definitely think we’re running the ball hard, whether it’s Darren or it’s Michael – there is a great intensity, a great violence when we’re running it from that spot. But I also think that we’re doing a little better in terms of getting some seams created for them. It’s still not as good as it needs to be, but I think there is some improvement going on there. It’s a combination of both, and I think our wide receivers are blocking better than they ever have.
Q:How as Loper done as a substitute for Gallery?
Cable:He’s done all right. He’s a guy that did his job, a backup player that came in when needed and plugged a hole.
Q:You ever seen his move rolling with the ball forward before?
Cable: Let me tell you something. This is a true story. Every week, we do the turnover-takeaway circuit. Not that that’s in there, but cradling the football, the right way to recover a football and he did it exactly the way we drilled them to do it. On his behalf, he had the awareness to say “Look, I haven’t been touched and it’s mine so I can do something with it now.” That looked very offensive-line like but we’ll take it. It was another three yards.
Q: Expect McFadden to play against the 49ers?
Cable: We’ll know more about that coming up on Wednesday. He is improving, but you can’t say that right now.
Q: How do you use this win as a springboard for the rest of the season?
Cable: I talked about it with the team yesterday and again this morning. It’s a good feeling because of who you beat, OK, and how you did it, but what’s most important for us is to enjoy it but realize and keep in perspective the fact that we can still get a lot better. And there’s a lot of good that comes from this, a lot of confidence that can be gained from it, just as long we keep it in perspective it will give us a chance to go at this game this week the right way.
Q: There were lot of outstanding defensive plays. Did you talk to the players about how much they’ve improved defensively, once you had a chance to look at the film together?
Cable: We do that. We do that on Mondays. You have to start with the run defense. It was much better. I think they had one run of significance in the whole game. A lot of tackles for losses, a lot guys to the ball, putting hats on the ball, wrapping up, good tackling, much better tackling than a week ago. And so yeah, there’s real positive that way. I think, though, at the end of the day you still look at it and say, ‘That guy threw for all those yards.’ So you can still find something to work on. But overall, defensively a much better effort in terms of tackling the football and putting a lot of helmets on it and playing sound run defense. Definitely an improvement.
Q: How much was it `that guy’ throwing for all those yards because he’s `that guy’ and how much was it because of mistakes in coverage?
Cable: We only had the one blown coverage. The real issue was our aggressiveness, or lack thereof. But you’ve got to give a lot of credit to Philip Rivers, now. He’s pretty darn good. We hit him a bunch, sacked him a few times, but he stood in there and pushed himself up in the pocket and got balls away. So when you look at it you say, yeah, a lot of it is him, but we can be better in terms of our aggressiveness playing coverage.”
Q: What are your concerns for improvement so far this season?
Cable: My No. 1 thing is to continue to protect the quarterback, I think offensively. Third-down offense would be No. 2, and defensively I think being able to put a complete game together, vs. the run and vs. the pass. I think that we’re capable of doing that, I just don’ t think we have yet. Kicking game, obviously I want to get the ball security issue straightened out with Jacoby because he has a history of not having that issue, and so we’ve got to get him back fundamentally sound that way and keep our special teams improving like they have. We’ve had really, I think since the start of the second half of the Arizona game it’s been pretty solid and we want to continue to do that, and now we’re starting to find some return game, which I mentioned as a weakness I thought early in the year, I think is getting better and better. Right now to me it’s playing better on third down on offense, protecting the quarterback and defensively playing a complete game.
Q: Your thoughts on all the penalties Sunday after having just two the week before against Houston ?
Cable: It’s tough to explain that. I came in early this morning and looked at just that because how do you go from two to 12? Really, there were two others that were called and they didn’t take the penalty. You look at it. So many times I think it depends a lot of times on the group of officials. So many times guys are just playing and that’s illegal contact or that’s a hold. I don’t really know that I buy that, but that’s the way they called it, so you have to live with it. The offsides, defensively, things like that, those are unacceptable ones. Those are ones you have to keep focusing on, which we do every day. The offensive pass interference was a perfect example. That’s two guys, running a route, and when Louis puts his foot down to turn and come back for the ball, he steps on the guy’s foot and the guy falls backwards. So he calls it, he pushed off. Well, that’s not the rule, but that’s what they called.”
Q: How important is it to get back-to-back wins in getting this turned around?
Cable: I think if we improve as a team this week like I would expect us to do, then we have a great chance to get ourselves in position to do that. But it will definitely be a focus for the week.
Q: Is an 0-5 team more scary, than say, a 3-2 team that’s struggling?
Cable: I don’t think for us that could or would enter our minds. We’re trying to get where we want to be. We can’t really worry about others right now. We just can’t.
Q: What kind of challenge do you expect from Niners?
Cable: They obviously are very very talented. Defensively they’re playing at a very high level and offensively they have a ton of weapons. We’ll get to them more as I leave here. That willbe the next thing. We’ve all seen parts of those games and they’re a very talented football team.
Q: Will Nick Miller stick at punt returner, or will he share it with Johnnie Lee Higgins?
Cable: I definitely think so. My pattern has been when I made a move I’ve kind of stayed with it. He certainly deserves that after yesterday. It’s a very interesting art. You have to catch it and make one move and hope there’s a lane for yourself and guys have blocked people. He certainly did that yesterday.
Q: Would-be defensive coordinators will look at that last drive with the blitzing and say, `Why don’t you do that more often?’
Cable: We talk about that a lot, we really do. Some of it is kind of a theory or belief in the system and what has to go on and what must be done and those kinds of things. Some of it is when it’s time to do it, you have to do what you believe is right. John did at the end and it was exactly right.
Q: Talk about importance of finishing, like the Branch 64-yard TD?
Cable: There was a lot of guys on that particualr play. One we were covering guys really well so he couldn’t throw it hot right away. And it was a pressure. Huff was getting blocked but it didn’t matter. He went through the block to the quarterback’s arm. If you’ve seen the play, Huff comes from their right and Tyvon from their left and he’s actually in the backfield, comes all the way back around, picks the ball up and runs with it. What enables that was Chris Johnson. An offensive lineman reached down and get it and he knocks him back away from the football and teh ball is laying there and Tyvon can pick it up. Everything you talk about finishing and it ain’t over until they say it’s over, all those things we talk about in thayt one play goes straight into everything we talk about.
Q: Was Mike Mitchell as good on film as you thought after the game?
Cable: Just as I thought. He took the challenge. He had to cover Gates some. He was very good in run defense. We played him at the nickel backer some. He handled the crossing routes underneath well. Just so many things. His awareness on the goal line when Ricky Brown knocks a ball out and it pops up in the air and he grabs it. Unfortunately he was getting tackled by his own guy, Lamarr Houston. I just think overall there’s a lot of improvement by Mike. It’s good to see.
Q: Gallery and Schilens back this week?
Cable: I think there’s a great chance with Gallery.
Q: What about Schilens?
Cable: I can’t say that yet.
Q: Were there equal snaps for the left tackles, Mario Henderson and Jared Veldheer?
Cable: Yeah it was like 30 to 31.
Q:Still rotate left tackles?
Cable: The young kid has a level of consistency that the more he plays the better he gets. I think it’s also raised Mario’s game so it’s a good thing going on right now.
Q:Could you envision a scenario where you could go with a LT rotation the rest of the season?
Cable: I think it’s going to sort itself out. I said that last week and I think that we’re getting improvement out of both. And the real key is if we can get two players to play at a high level, then we’ll find a pot for both of them.
Q: Did the Chargers defend your WRs to the point where it opened things up for others, or were there things you didn’t exploit with the WRs?
Cable: It really kind of played out like you thought it would. If you go back to the fist nine third-downs, we were 1 of 9. That’s where the game, to me, was never in our hands the right way, because we’re not able to stay on the field. I mean, hell, we block two punts, the defense is getting stops and if we score once or twice there off the two blocks, you’ve got a chance to kind of put this thing away and get into almost a 4-minute mode, if you will. But we were never able to do that, simply because of third down and just some bad throws, a couple of guy slipped coming out of breaks in their routes. All those fundamental things – get your weight over your toes, follow through when you throw and little things like that. And on top of it, continue to wanting to get better protection for your quarterback.
Q: You initially said 3-6 weeks for Chaz Schilens, so has he had a setback, or it taking longer than thought?
Cable: It’s just slower than we thought at this point.
Q: How was the crowd at the Coliseum?
Cable: The crowd was amazing. It was uh, for, I don’t know how many was there, but other than the opening game last year, against this same opponent, when it was sold out on Monday night, I think that’s as alive as I’ve seen it. And certainly, we talked about it as a team, how much we appreciated the crowd and what they need to understand, when they’re like that, they’re truly a 12th man and it made a difference in the football game. There’s no question, so, great, great appreciation to our fans. They were wonderful.
Q: Is there more of an edge to facing the 49ers in the regular season, sense more of a Bay Area rivalry?
Cable: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q: Any comment talk of a shared stadium with 49ers by the commissioner?
Cable: You know, I didn’t see it. Someone told me just before I came down here but I haven’t been able to get into any of those things, other than yesterday’s game.