News, notes and quotes from the week of practices and media availability leading into Sunday’s Raiders-Seahawks game at the Coliseum:
Pete Carroll gave glowing reviews to former Cal star Marshawn Lynch for all he’s added to the Seahawks running game, but the truth is all the addition has done so far is get Seattle up to average.
“Using he and Justin Forsett has given us a 1-2 punch that gives us attitude runner and a change-of-pace quickness guy that’s special, and gives us something special for our running game,” Carroll said.
Since Lynch arrived, the Seahawks ran for 111 yards in a 23-20 win over the Chicago Bears, followed by a 144-yard effort in last week’s 22-20 win over Arizona.
Lynch’s contribution? He’s carried 41 times for 133 yards, a 3.2 average not even up to the subpar 3.8 average Lynch had in his last year in Buffalo and his first four games with the Bills this season. He had 17 carries for 44 yards against the Bears, and 24 rushes for 89 yards against Arizona _ with a big chunk coming off a 39-yard run.
Seattle ranks 24th in the NFL in rushing and averages 3.7 yards per carry. They’ve got 27 rushing first downs. Following the Raiders 328-yard explosion in Denver, the Raiders are third in rushing at 158.4 yards and fourth in rushing first downs with 52 and in a three-way tie for second in rushing touchdowns with eight.
— You hear this as a criticism of coaching all the time _ he wasn’t playing to win, he was trying not to lose.
Carroll made a rather amazing admission in that Job 1 at this stage of the Seahawks development is exactly that _ trying not to lose.
“You have to avoid the kinds of things that turn games around and give teams a chance to knock you off,” Carroll said. “That’s the first step and the critical step with football forever.”
If Seattle strives to play error-free football, “it doesn’t mean you’re going to win every game but you’re giong to have a chance in every game. And that’s what we’re trying to get done right now.”
Cable couldn’t quite wrap his mind around that thought process.
“Personally, that’s not in my brain. That’s not how I look at things. We’re playing to win,” Cable said.
When it was suggested that playing it safe, avoiding errors, was simply a first step in building a program, Cable said, “In thar regard, sure, I mean everybody’s trying to do that, but at the end of the game, to make a statement that we’re playing not to lose, that’s incredible to me.”
— Lots of levity and light moments with the Raiders before practice, with jokes and receivers engaging in a game of what looked to be “hot potato” before getting down to business.
It’s fine if the team knows how to turn its attention to the matter at hand _ I remember 49ers defensive backs Deion Sanders, Tim McDonald and Merton Hanks being involved in an intense game of rock, paper, scissors the week leading up to the NFC championship game against Dallas _ and Cable is convinced the Raiders do just that.
He even made the observation to his son, who was visiting and watching practice.
“They know I’m OK with having fun, but it’s time to work, you work, and they’re very good that way,” Cable said. “I was telling my boy this is kind of how this team is, they’re laughing and joking and then we went to a team period and it was business.”
A lot of the good vibes have to do with the Broncos win, according to cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
“You could see it’s not as tense,” Asomugha said. “There’s a confidence level that guys have that, `We can do this and we can win games.’ So we’ve gone out and we’ve practiced like it and we’ve gone through meetings like it, so it’s good. It’s not like we’re relaxing, but it’s good to feel that sense of confidence that we can get the job done.”
On thing that hasn’t been discussed this week is winning back-to-back games. Cable said he was going to trust “the process” of preparing for Seattle and not worrying about what came before or what comes after.
“I don’t know if he wanted to put it in our brains like that,” Asomugha said. “I don’t know if he wants us thinking like, `Oh, we’ve never really won back-to-back, we’ve got to do it,’ and pressing that way. The bigger lesson is if we take it one game at a time we really can do well.”
Nor has it been discussed that the Raiders can be a .500 team at the midway point of the season for the first time since 2002.
“That’s the first I hard it this week,” Asomugha said. “I actually didn’t think about until you just said it. It wasn’t a think we stressed, either. It’s just another game we have to win before a divisional opponent the following week. We just have to put together two wins before we go into the bye.”