A transcription of Raiders coach Tom Cable’s press briefing with the local media before the team took time off until Monday to begin preparing for a Nov. 21 date in Pittsburgh against the Steelers:
Cable: OK, we concluded our practice today with a little work on Pittsburgh, kind of wanted to get an early start on them, just wanted to give them something to think about with their time off and just introducing them to some fronts, formations, coverages, things like that so they’ve got something to have in their brain as they go away and relax a little bit. Good work today. Look forward to getting back Monday and going to work.
Q: Did you give them (computer) discs to study?
Cable: We’ve given guys different things. Could be paper, could be disc. But yeah, anyone, A) who wanted it, or B) who we think needed it, we made sure they had material they could work on.
Q: Several years now team has struggled off byes, last seven losses. Did you look at those years as you planned this year or just take it as a separate season?
Cable: I approached it based on this team. I really didn’t look at the past. I am aware of that win-loss thing, but I thought, this is what this team needs right now and is what’s bet for us, and that was the approach.
Q: Chaz Schilens is working hard, stopping, starting, cutting with trainer how do you feel about his progress?
Cable: Getting excited. Really. I think next week we have a chance to get him back in uniform and start to work. How much that is, and can he go back to back and all that, we’ll have to find that out. But I think we’re real close to getting him back on the practice field.
Q: What does he add, different than the other guys?
Cable: You know, I think it gives us another playmaker, if you look at his history, albeit brief, he’s made something happen. And you’ve got more speed and you’ve got more size. In the back of my mind I’m really starting to get excited that that this will really start to improve us in one particular area and that’s the red zone.
Q: So do Zach and Nnamdi stick around and rehab during the bye week?
Cable: If they have an injury, had one or got one in the last game, they’ll remain around here and rehab and they’ll have responsibilities until Monday.
Q: Not know anything about them until Monday, or are seeing some progress?
Cable: No, we’re seeing progress, but we’ll do some training and film and meetings and walkthrough on Monday, and then Wednesday when we practice we’ll kind of know where we’re at with those two guys and I kind of feel good about it. It’s not for sure yet, obviously but I know they’re moving in the right direction.
Q: Bruce said it was the best he’s felt . . . what did you see . . .
Cable: I saw him throw a couple of balls today that excited me because I’ve not seen it. This was the first time down the field and having to really cut it loose one time down the field and throw a big dig route. So it’s exciting we’re getting close. There’s still some issues there but it is getting better.
Q: How is Zach looking?
Cable: We’ve been probably cautious is the best way to say it, just trying to take care of him. He is improving. Our expectation is he’ll be ready to go next Monday.
Q: How do you see Jacoby’s role, given the way he played Sunday?
Cable: I think it has to continue to grow. This is a prove-it league, and certainly he’s proving it. One of the issues that’s coming for us is we’re going to get some depth and some quality players at the same time at receiver. I think that’s going to do nothing but help us. We’ve had, really I think some nice things happen to us in our three-receiver set, and I think it may allow us to be a little more confident in that personnel group.
Q: How encouraging was it to see – speed is obviously Jacoby’s big calling call – but he ripped the ball away from a guy. He showed a little bit more than just speed . . .
Cable: I think the elite players in this league at that position, that’s what they do. They go get the ball. You hear coaches say it all the time. He goes and gets the ball or he goes and takes the ball out of the air. He did that on both occasions, the one where he took the interception away and then he went and got the post route and used his speed as well as just the passion to go get the football.
Q: How do you get that to happen? Is that something you can work on with guys or is it something that they have?
Cable: I think it’s a little bit of both, and I think it’s a lot more of they have. You do some drills where you try to throw balls out front and really strain them to have to go get it.
Q: When you first saw him on film, what was your reaction to his speed?
Cable: It was a ‘wow’ fast. We were watching, getting ready for the draft. He was returning a kick. He and C.J. Spiller were on the same team, so you had to figure out which was which because they’re both fast guys. He was returning a kickoff and it was like, ‘Wow,’ so it was wow fast.
Q: Two rookies have started from the first day. But top to bottom could have ever foreseen that you’d be using your rookies so much?
Cable: Honestly, no. We’re thrilled that it’s turned out this way, there’s no question. I don’t think anybody can expect this number of guys to contribute this amount on any one team. Across the league, if you look at it, there’s a lot of rookies showing up this year. I think we’re fortunate that other than Goethel, when you really think about it, only because of the injury, he’s probably been the least amount, in terms of being involved, he and Bruce (Campbell). They’re both going to be fine players, so it’s a heck of a draft.
Q: What’s your reaction to the story about Al Davis wanting Campbell to start?
Cable: My feeling is this. This organization, regardless of what’s written or what’s said, or what some unnamed source, or whatever that is, says, is run by the owner and it’s coached by the coach. As it pertains to this football team, the decisions that go on with players, they’re going to be made by me. I made that clear since Day One. And that’s the way we do business. And, obviously, it’s working.
Q: What did it take for the players to buy into your philosophy?
Cable: Well, obviously, results. Results are always the exclamation point. But the real truth of it is, is you got to more stubborn as a coach than the problem, if that makes sense. We’ve never ducked trying to change the attitude, trying to change the environment in the locker room and that sort of thing. We’ve never dodged that. We’ve dealt with it. We’ve talked about it. We’ve learned to communicate, learned to trust each other. You have to do those things. You have to work at those things. They just don’t happen. Knowing what the problem is, you have to be willing to stand up to the problem. If you’re bigger than the problem, then you can make it happen. If you’re not, the problem wins. So, I feel like, as a coaching staff and as a football team, together, that we’ve become bigger than what our negatives are, and that’s why we’re succeeding.
Q: Did the margin by which you defeated Denver provide more of a spark than say a “normal’ win would have?
Cable: Well, yes. The mentality that we’ve been striving for; we’re going to get in your face, we’re going to fight you and we’re going to scratch and claw, do whatever we can, that mentality came out. Boom, we get a play, then we get another play, then another play, then another play, and pretty soon you looked up and it’s 21, it’s 28, it’s like, holy cow. There was no let up. It was everyone, like, now let’s get ‘em. Like piranhas. That mentality came out. We learned so much from that, that we are capable of that happening to us. For all of us, the real key game was coming home to Seattle and getting it done the way we did and making it a real punishing, physical play in the second half. We learned how to finish last week and hang in there. The mentality that grew from the Denver game was huge.
Q: Have you guys turned the corner?
Cable: We’ve turned the corner on some issues. We’re becoming a winning football team. We’re becoming a confident football team with some faith and belief. Now we understand that we have to go out and do it a certain way every time. The first half of the Kansas City game is a perfect example. We have a saying now, to compromise is to fail. And we compromised each other, ourselves, in that first half Sunday. We didn’t play very well defensively – they kept us in the game – but special teams wasn’t very good and offensively, not very good either. That’s was really what we talked about halftime and went out and played in all three phases the rest of the way.
Q: Was Seymour today?
Cable: He was not. He was excused to go and take care of his kids.
Q: Anyone else excused?
Q: How would you assess Jared Veldheer’s progress as a starter coming from a Division II school?
Cable: It’s huge. The neat thing about coaching that group of guys is that when guys do it over and over and over they really get it. He got beat the one time in the game. It’s just not finishing the back of the pocket. If you look at the overtime play, it was the same rush on the same shoulder but a different finish and they got the block. What I get geeked about is here’s a young guy that when he came to the sideline you talked through when he got beat and how you fix that and the next time it came he went right to what he knew and what he was taught. He did it. That’s why he’s having the success he’s having. He’s a brilliant young guy who just has loads of talent but he strives to be great. That’s a gift. You can’t teach that one.
Q: Is Janikowski locked in at this point where you believe you can count on him?
Cable: I’ve always felt like that with him to be quite honest with you. The irony of this whole thing is the kick he missed in Arizona was the exact same hash and the exact same distance as on Sunday. So he put that to bed. I mentioned that to him in front of the team. That’s behind us now. I think he’d be the first to tell you, ‘wherever you need it I can make it.’ That’s how I feel about him.
Q: Where would you have kicked from at end of regulation?
Cable: That way we thought as long as we got inside the 40 we had a shot?
Q: So what’s up next for you, head to the beach?
Cable: (laughs) No. We’re going to get to work on Pittsburgh.