Raiders coach Tom Cable addresses the quarterback situation and other issues during a press briefing with Bay Area media the day after a 23-20 overtime win over Kansas City:
Cable: OK, let’s get an injury update here. McClain with a hip pointer. Didn’t finish yesterday but was much, much better today. Asomugha, with the ankle, he’s improving. Tyvon Branch felt pretty good today. John Henderson with the foot, we’ll probably get him back to work next week at some point. Murphy should start to work here tomorrow. Schilens, potential for him to work next week. Zach Miller is better, and I think we’ll be smart with that this week. And then Gradkowski is improving, continuing to do that. So really, the two guys from the game yesterday, McClain is fine today and Branch is much improved.
Q: Regarding Asomugha, Zach Miller, John Henderson, do you expect to see these three in Pittsburgh after the bye?
Cable: I think that there’ a chance. But I think we’ll have to really talk about that more next week. But as of today, there’s a very good chance.
Q: Any chance that you’ll have everyone back . . . Schilens, Gradkowski, Asomugha, Zach, John Henderson . . .
Cable: Yeah, we have a shot. We don’t know that yet because some of those things, they’re at the end of the injury or the end of the rehab, so now we’ve got to get them back playing football. And in the terms of Chaz’s case, he’s missed everything thus far. So, to say that he’d be ready to go and all that might be a little premature. But, if we can get him back on the field, then that would put his window at maybe the next game afer that. So we’ll just see. We’ll see what we can get done come Monday.
Q: Did Tyvon Branch have a concussion?
Note: For what it’s worth, and players almost always downplay injuries, Branch seemed fine, said he didn’t have a concussion and that he could have re-entered the game.
Q: How did you come up with, `Just cut loose’ as your catchphrase?
Cable: Just cut it loose means stop worrying about things that are bad or things that can go bad or whatever that is and just have fun with it. That’s really become what this team is best at. That’s kind of their thing. When they really just kind of cut it loose and don’t worry about it and don’t think about whatever’ gone on the past, they’re at their best. And I think that’s what we’re becoming.
Q: How did you come up with the phrase, though, why not just tell them to relax?
Cable: I tried that (laughter). Really, that’s just kind of the way I am and that’s the way I like things and it just kind of fits them, really.
Q: A month ago Tom Cable was going to be fired, now everything is going well and Wade Phillips gets fired. What does it say about this business as a whole?
Cable: I don’t look at all that because you can’t. You have to have your focus on what your team’s doing. I love what I do and I think I do good at it so it’s just a matter of staying the course. There’s going to be a lot of bumps in the road especially to get it turned around, for us to reach our goals there is still going to be more adversity like yesterday that we’re going to have to overcome. There’s going to be more tough times. We found a way to overcome that one. All that other stuff really doesn’t matter to me because thing work out the way they’re supposed to. That’s the way I look at it.
Q: Are you getting a better understanding of Jason, getting him out of rough starts. Threw late over the middle twice, bad first half, then came out of it. Is he a prime example of someone who needs to `cut it loose?’
Cable: He for sure is. One thing I remind him, probably all of our conversations now are, `cut it loose, OK?’ I got you, I’m with you, just cut it loose. Best example you can talk about Jason is high and low and all over the place as we talked about after the game yesterday, but when we got to that two –minute drive to start the last drive to overtime, from there to the end, even though the ball Jacoby made, kind of took an interception away from a guy, wasn’t a great throw, but, the management and being on time and all that, from the rest of the way was the best he was all day. So when his best was needed he was very, very good. But prior to that, there’s a lot of highs and a lot of lows, and you’ve just got to, he’s a perfect example of just kind of stay flat line and just keep cutting it loose, really. Just stop worrying about things.
Q: How basic and fundamentally sound was Ford as a receiver out of college? Did he go to the ball and use his hands in college?
Cable: Yeah, he did. I think you have to remember he was probably overshadowed a little bit by C.J. Spiller. They were a run, run, run, run first team, so his opportunities were probably not as many as the other receivers. But at the same time, there’s a post route there in the first half he should have caught and he’d be the first to tell you that. But in terms of getting him to this level and being able to handle the game at this level and being able to release at this level and go get the football at this level and all those things, I think he’s what we thought he was. The finishing speed, no question, I mean you all saw that on the kickoff return, it was pretty special.
Q: What does Jason need to do to wholeheartedly win your trust?
Cable: He has my trust. I wouldn’t play him. There’s no way, if I didn’t trust Jason I would have played Kyle. It’s a non-issue. I’m not going to put him out there unless I believe in him. Your all getting with where am I going with the quarterback thing, Jason’s our quarterback right now and Bruce isn’t healthy yet, enough to have this conversation, that’s where this is at.
Q: So when you play Pittsburgh, are you wavering at all on who would start?
Cable: I really haven’t wavered, but I do have a belief in me about, you know, when you’re dealing it and you got the hot hand, and things are going in the right direction for your football team, you know, why would you make a change? And that’s where I think right now, but in the back of my mind I also say, ‘It’s not really making a change. He was a starter before I made the change with Bruce and he’s kinda’ come back and done a lot of good things for our team.’ What’s the negative of this? Well I have another problem. I got two good quarterbacks healthy again. That’s the only negative I see about it. I’m probably leaning towards staying with the hot hand. That’s just where I’m at.
Q: So if they’re both healthy, your starter would be Campbell?
Cable: On Monday if you ask me that, I’ll probably give you an answer, but today with Bruce not being healthy enough to do everything that we need him to do, it’s really not a fair question. But Monday, hopefully it will be and I’ll tell you then exactly what we’re going to do.
Q: Want to give us a hint?
Cable: Yeah. [laughter] I just did. You know?
Q: Do you continually update the team on the standings and talk about playoffs, or do you avoid it?
Cable: Nah, because that’s been our goal. That has, and it’s not very realistic yet. It wasn’t very realistic four weeks ago and any of that, but it was our goal and it is our goal. So, what we have done and what’s working for us is–you all make ’em aware of it, what’s going on and where they’re at. So I don’t have to do that. What I need to do is get this team better fundamentally. To be honest with you, our defense kept us in the game for a half yesterday and we didn’t play very good: offensively or special teams. And so there’s a lot this team can do to get better and that’s what we’ll spend the next couple of days focusing on is getting ourselves fundamentally better.
Q: Has your team turned a corner?
Cable: Well I think we’ve turned the corner on a couple of things. I think that we go after it now and I think that we believe we can win. And I think those are two really big things to accomplish. Now, it’s up to us to continue to do those things that, that got us to this point.
Q: Is this a good time for a bye week?
Cable: You know, it’s funny because we were walking down the hall and Mike and I were talking about it. This is the perfect time for this team to have a bye week, because of how we opened this conversation. We have a chance to be as healthy or get as healthy as we’ve been all year, since we went to camp. So, I think it does come at a good time and I think that we didn’t get much break from preseason to the regular season. So I think this gives us a chance to really kind of recharge our batteries, menatally more than anything, but it’ll be a good break for our team.
Q: What’s this week’s schedule and how do you keep the momentum without them getting rusty when they come back?
Cable: We talked about that. We laid it out to them, exactly what we need to accomplish this week. We’ll work tomorrow and we’ll work Wednesday. We’ll come back in Monday and we’ll get back to work. But we have a goal for tomorrow and Wednesday and we want to accomplish it. We talked about what needs to be done in their time away, and iff they’ve got injuries or issues like that, how to take care of them and the responsibility that comes with that and challenged them all. If you’re going to take a break somewhere, I want you to work out, I want you to lift a little bit, to run a little bit, and I want you to keep your brain right here where we’re at, because that’s the important thing. I think that’s the difference, how you handle it really is the difference whether you have a good bye or not and if you’re rusty or not, as you said.
Q: Is it easier to handle the bye when you’re going well?
Cable: There’s no question. The psychology of the whole thing is the most important thing. Winning some games like we have, they can at least take a step back now, and they’re excited about it and they’re hungry for it, so their mind won’t be too far from it.
Q: Health issues aside, are you worried about the bye interrupting your team’s momentum?
Cable: I don’t because I think it’s part of the NFL season. Everyone’s going to have one, and when we looked at the schedule before we knew that it would be this nine-week run and then there’d be a break and seven weeks to try to make your deal. So we’ve already kind of talked about it, that this was part of the plan and this is where it’s at. We’re just fortunate that we won the last three. I don’t know that it comes at a bad time that way. I don’t. I think our team is on track mentally where it needs to be.
Q: You know your Raider tradition, and one of them is that good Raiders teams commit penalties and win anyway _ you’ve committed 36 penalties in three games and won them all. How do you compartmentalize what’s important and what’s not in terms of penalties?
Cable: That’s one I don’t like. Let’s get real about one thing, there are a number of things on film that we will turn in again. For example, when you get it back that Stevie Brown last week should have been a touchdown. Those things are unacceptable.
Q: The Brown play came back verified as incorrect?
Cable: Yes it did. Those things are unacceptable to me. We go out there to play hard and to play right. There are things from this film that we’ll turn in again. Are we offsides too much? Yes. Do we have to take responsibility for illegal motion or being lined up in the neutral zone defensively? Absolutely. Holding? Absolutely. If your hands are outside, it’s illegal. They’re going to call it. And I’ve got no issue with it. But when someone’s on the ground and the ball’s still in his hands, he’s down. That’s what it is. We have work to do to clean it up. There’s no question. But it’s too many.
Q: Is this the biggest file you’ve turned in to the league for review?
Q: Were all those penalties warranted?
Cable: I don’t know how much I can speak on that.
Q: Give me a number …
Q: How good can this team be when it gets injured players back?
Cable: Well, I think we can get better. I think, again, that we have to stay on the plan we’re on and what’s working for us. But it is exciting as a coach to know that you’re going to get a tight end back and a cornerback back and defensive tackle that is going to help us where we’re already improving in the run defense area. But I think it will help Tommy and Richard in terms of taking a few snaps off. They’re both playing very well but they’re both playing a lot. John Henderson is a proven run defender. Then it’s exciting to know that you have a possibility of getting Louis Murphy back and perhaps Chaz Schilens. So, yeah, it’s very exciting. But until they’re out there going full-time, we can’t really get too high yet. It’s nice to know that’s just around the corner.
Q: What’s been the difference in Tommy Kelly’s play this year?
Cable: A couple of things. One, he’s in an environment in his room where his coach is real demanding of him, has a great plan for him every week. He’s challenged by the guy playing next to him to be at your best all the time. I think that he got himself in great shape. I think that he’s taken the extra weight off. He’s playing like the Tommy Kelly I met when I first got here in ’07. I thought he was tough to block, and he’s the same guy now. And then, to me, he’s finishing plays. If I could put my hand on one thing, it’s that Tommy Kelly is finishing to the ball all the time. He’s trying to get the quarterback, he’s trying to get the ball carrier when it’s over there, on the boundary, or downfield. I just a tremendous effort by him. He got the defensive game ball, by the way.
Q: When did you see a change in team’s resiliency?
Cable: You all thought I was crazy when we were struggling early in the year, and I just knew that we were that close. Make a kick here, score a touchdown across the Bay, do just a couple of things and it’s a whole different world for us. But we didn’t. And until we were able to do some of those things and get through that and prove to ourselves that we could … Talking about it doesn’t do it, Laying it out there doesn’t do it. You have to do it, and it’s like I said yesterday after the game, it’s another building block. We’ve now put that one to rest. However long it takes, and whatever the circumstances are, we’re going try and fight and grind until the end and try to win. By doing it, we’ve become that.
Q: What’s your anticipation of fans returning to Coliseum in Nov. 28?
Cable: Obviously, it’s high. It was great yesterday. They came out and supported our football team. We played not very good in the first half, but played good for them in the second half and found a way to win the football game. I think the most important thing is the connection is coming back together, and we’ve got to continue to get better and win football games. If we do that, they’ll show up and that’s really how it works.
Q: Who is your backup punter if Lechler can’t go?
Cable: I don’t really know that. Shane will be just fine. It probably would be Sebastian, something like that, because Shane would also be the backup kicker?
Q: What does it do for you when you have all your receivers healthy?
Cable: The most important thing is, what it’s going to do is give us some more packages. It’s going to give us a little bit more speed and size, with Louis and Chaz, assuming they both get back and all that. In terms of a rotation and all that, it’s way premature to go there.
Q: What are some things that jumped out on you from watching the tape?
Cable: Probably just how hard we were playing. You could feel it but you turn on the film and you see offensive linemen really getting after guys, trying to finish blocks. You see Brandon Myers really didn’t miss too much. I love Zach, and he’s a heck of a player, but Brandon really showed himself well. I don’t know that you feel that from the sideline until you get a chance to look at it on tape. The play of our corners. We’re without Nnamdi, and Chris, Jeremy Ware and Stanford Routt probably played as a group as well as they have all year long. So, that’s a great job of stepping up. Things like that, when you to sit back, look at the film, study it, you say, ‘Wow, those guys really came through for us when we needed them to.’ So, it’s things like that.
Q: Nick Miller didn’t think he fumbled the punt, yet took responsibility for not securing it on the kick and then to the ground. Do you like that accountability?
Cable: Yeah, Nick’s right. I don’t think he fumbled the ball, either, but he shouldn’t have muffed it in the first place. When he did, you’ve got to secure it with two hands, get a yard or two back toward their direction, and get down. Period. Don’t make a bad thing worse. He’s exactly right. His accountability, like a lot of guys on this team, is where it needs to be. He’s taking responsibility.
Q: How big of a factor has Cartwright been on special teams?
Cable: He’s been exceptional all year. He’s running the punt team. He’s gone out there and made plays on kickoff coverage team. He’s blocking people on punt return. He made a key block on the kickoff return yesterday. He was the guy who knocked the fumble out. Michael Huff wrapped him up, and he came in and stripped the ball out. So, he’s been very important for us. He’s done it in all four teams and done very well.
Q: Seems like he’s very active with younger players on the sideline, is he almost like an extra coach for John Fassel?
Cable: I mentioned this last week, I can’t remember which one of you asked me about the leadership of our team. Rock’s an example of it. It’s a very prideful thing for him. He takes it as his responsibility on those special teams and goes after it. He’s very good on the sideline and he’s that way in practice too. It’s something we’re all used to and expect that out of him.
Q: Does Huff ask to be on kick coverage?
Cable: Since I’ve been here that’s always been something he’s gotten better at. I remember like two years ago, three years ago in 08 we sat him down. He was our starting safety and sat him down and told him you’re going to go over and learn how to tackle in special teams. He did it and since then he’s never really looked back. I think special teams has helped him become the defensive player he is.
Q: Did you like what saw from Wildcat and will it become regular part of offense?
Cable: I don’t know. It worked yesterday. It was nice.
Q: Will it?
Cable: Not going to tell you that
Q: How big a role has McFadden played in team’s success?
Cable: It’s been really key. Because for one as I mentioned when he’s been healthy he’s makes things happen. He’s been very productive. He’s taken it to another level. You’ve all seen it. He’s on the field a lot, which we need him to be. He’s certainly playing as good as anybody on our football team right now. Without question.
Q: How important was it for you to out-rush Kansas City?
Cable: It wasn’t by enough. That’s the one issue to be real clear how I feel about it. If you take the quarterback scrambles away from them, they would have rushed for 80 yards. So that’s a heck of a day when you hand it off to those running backs. They’re good. I think we’re improving in that area and hopefully we can get John Henderson healthy here and I think that can help us a little bit more even. We’re proud of that fact but the chance was there for us to rush for more yards than we did so not quite good enough.
Q: Did you sense that defense was confident could stop KC run game?
Cable: I think this team is growing in that way. Like we always remind them, there’s a process to doing what we’re doing and we go to work. As long as you go to work you can let your confidence grow and flourish all you want. But if you stop working your confidence just becomes talk and that ain’t working.
Q: Will you be looking for another center as a backup this week or are you comfortable with Veldheer being the backup?
Cable: I think this. (Samson) you know I think is getting over the knee thing. He played pretty good yesterday. I’m not so concerned about that at this point. We’ll kind of get through the week and see where we’re at.