By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, November 29th, 2010 at 3:56 pm in Oakland Raiders.
A transcription of coach Tom Cable’s press briefing with the Bay Area media Monday, a day after a 33-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins:
Cable: OK, some injury updates here. Schilens will go back to work this week on a limited basis. Seems to be making improvement on both the knee and the foot. Zach Miller, the X-rays were negative. Has quite a contusion on his lower leg. Gradkowski, still waiting on an MRI, but it does appear to hve reinjured the right shoulder. Asomugha, waiting on an MRI as well on his ankle. Kind of bit him a few times yesterday. We talked about that yesterday, the reason he was in and out of the game. Branch has got a sore shoulder. Johnson, on the groin, we’ll see where he’s at on Wednesday. And then Kamerion Wimbley took some stitches on the hand yesterday but does not appear to be serious.
After watching the film, it’s just what I said after the game. We got out-played, we got out-coached and it’s two weeks in a row we got a bad taste in our mouth. As we have talked about, we got ourselves into this little mess here for two weeks, we can get ourselves out of it and have no doubt that we will. But we’ve got to get back to, I think, doing the things, the little things that were getting us where we wanted to go.
Q: Having a game like this against the Chargers, who are playing as well as they are . . .
Cable: It’s good for us.
Q: It’s good?
Cable: It’s very good. Now I think to get back in division play, trying to get to 4-0 in division, trying to sweep the Chargers, which, I don’t know when it’s been done here. But more importantly, just getting back on track and p[laying the kind of football we’re capable of playing and the opponent definitely brings it out of us this week.
Q: Why did you get away from doing the little things?
Cable: Well, that’s a great question. You talk about the word ‘accountability’ and I just think that not placing blame or looking to point fingers or anything like that but just staying the course and doing everything that’s within our power to make sure we’re ready to go. And then, as I’ve always said, doing it. The last week was a tremendous week of preparation, as good as maybe we’ve had all year, but it surely didn’t show on Sunday.
Q:Can you put your finger on the problems with the run game? You were so good for so many weeks then struggled the last two weeks . . .
Cable: Some of it is staying with it more. Some of it is being more consistent like we were the early part of the season. You look back, I think the first two runs yesterday were minus-two and minus-three. So, that’s a pretty good indicator we got a helmet in the wrong place or missed a cut or both. Those are the little things I’m talking about.
Q: Do you see any personnel changes or just think the guys you have have to get better?
Cable: I think we’ve just got to go dial it back again to where we were because what we’ve been doing the last two weeks is unacceptable. I don’t see personnel changes, per se, being the answer. I think it’s coaching and playing better.
Q: Are teams loading up more against the run?
Cable: Well, sure they are, but it’s been like that. This isn’t anything new for us. You’re going to see eight- and nine-man boxes. That’s what happens when you’re a good running football team. So you have to be able to handle that. Our system has been built to handle that. That’s part of the deal.
Q: If Bruce has re-injured that shoulder, and he was out five weeks the last time it happened, would you be surprised to see him play before the end of the year?
Cable: I’ll know more as soon as they come back with this MRI, but if that is true, yes, what you’re saying is very true. But we’ll know more as soon as we kind of get this thing evaluated and see how serious it is this time, see if there’s any more damage, anything like that.
Q: Even though Darren didn’t have much running room, you kept him involved with the direct snaps and throwing to him a lot. Do you guys realize how important he is to the offense?
Cable: Definitely. I think that that goes without saying. He still, what did he catch, seven balls I think? He’s back there in some of the Wildcat stuff. He no question is as good a runner as there is in football, and I think he’s proved that. I think we’ve got to get back to reestablishing who he is and what he brings to the table that why. But I do like the fact that we’re keeping him involved in other ways, definitely.
Q: Any of running problems on Darren?
Cable: I don’t see it like that. One thing we’ve started to do – and I have always had a belief that in the first quarter ugly 2’s and 3’s become 4’s and 5’s in the second half, and we’ve gotta get back to those ugly 2’s and 3’s.
Q:What was Michael Bush’s status? No carries …
Cable: I don’t understand what you’re asking.
Q: Why wasn’t he carrying the ball?
Cable: When you’re only handing it off 12 times, there’s not a lot of carries for anybody.
Q: With cornerbacks as nicked up as they are, how big a challenge is that going against San Diego?
Cable: We’re going to have some guys get healthy and step up, that’s the bottom line here. We know what we’re dealing with. You’re playing one of the best quarterbacks in football, if not the best guy right now, with a bunch of weapons to throw it to. There’s a definite challenge for that group and there will have to be some guys come through for us.
Q: Having benched him twice and then a third time to start Bruce against Miami, do you think Jason will have the confidence he needs to lead this team?
Cable: I would put Kyle in there if I didn’t think he could do it …
Q: Is that a possibility? Are those two going to compete?
Cable: No, I don’t think so. Wednesday I will give you a more definitive answer.
Q: There is a perception that Bruce is your guy and Jason is Al Davis’ guy. Could you address that?
Cable: Anyone who would think that would be very foolish. This is about winning football games. Period.
Q: Does changing QBs affect the rhythm of the passing game?
Cable: I don’t really think so. The routes, the depth of them didn’t change, the drop of the quarterback didn’t change. No, I wouldn’t say that’s an issue.
Q: What about personalities, obviously two different guys, you think that affects chemistry at all?
Cable: I think they are different personalities. Jason is a strong, quiet type, Bruce is a little more outgoing, but that’s just who they are. In terms of the systems and what we ask the quarterback to do it’s about execution.
Q: How much does Zach being out hurt you both passing and running and running the ball?
Cable: It think it does hurt. He’s a heck of a player. And not take anything away from Brandon Myers, because he’s gone in both times and played very well and not gotten the opportunities that would go toward Zach in terms of catching the ball. But Brandon’s capable of doing that it would definitely be nice to get Zach healthy, though.
Q: Have to see where Zach is at with his contusion this week?
Cable: It is. It’s pretty severe, but we’ll know more come Wednesday.
Q: He mentioned afterward it was a plantar fascia issue that he’d had before, and usually a long process, he’s back from that or it’s lingering?
Cable: I think it always lingers, when you talk about plantar fasciatis or it’s partially torn, and his is partially torn, so it can linger. You’d rather it tear all the way, then it goes away in about a week. But his hasn’t done that, but we’re pretty much over that. This is a whole new injury.
Q: McClain interception at goal line, how did he play after that?
Cable: I think like everyone in that front seven, very inconsistent. When you go in there and you hang around and hang around, and they’re able to maintain drives, particularly like they are on third down, didn’t get a lot of pressure on the quarterback with a pass rush, you can’t say anybody played very well, and that’s the bottom line.
Q: How did Rock Cartwright not block that punt?
Cable: That’s a good question, when you see it on film, he’s free, the reaction of both the personal protector and the punter, they all thought it was blocked, too. But it just went right by the side of his hand.
Q: Will Walter McFadden be in nickel again this week?
Cable: We’ll see. Those are some questions that can only be answered because of the injury issue, and once we’re through that, we’ll be able to kind of settle on who’s up and who’s not.
Q: What were Walter McFadden’s problems?
Cable: One of them, the one touchdown where he got turned around, was a miscommunication, was a bad check. It didn’t get communicated. He thought he had help over the top, and he didn’t.
Q: What’s it going to take to get Jacoby some help at receiver?
Cable: The opportunities are there for them to make those plays. We threw a ball over the middle to Louis, and he kind of ducked underneath it. There’s a perfect example of, if you run the route at the right depth, you don’t have to worry about the safety coming across. You’ll catch that ball in the hole and take off with it. The last play of the game, the fourth down that we didn’t (convert), Bruce did a nice job of throwing an offset throw away from the safety to Johnnie, a little break to the ball and go get it. So, really, it’s just make the most of your opportunities. That will get you involved pretty quick.
Q: Is this offense equipped to win a game with a pass-heavy attack?
Cable: I think we can. That’s the one thing where if you say to us, where are we different offensively, it’s throwing the football from the last couple of years anyway. That’s really not what we want to do but if we have to, yeah, we’ve shown that we’re capable of throwing the ball.
Cable: Again, when you don’t run it enough, it’s hard to say you took the inside or the outside away if you don’t run it enough.
Q: Why has the punt coverage struggled in recent games?
Cable: The one long return, a couple of guys on the left side lost contain on the play. They crossed it, he started to their right, so they went with it, rather than keeping the ball on their inside shoulder. That’s a fundamental issue.
Q: How do you keep this from spiraling like the past?
Cable: I think we’ve grown so much that we won’t let that happen. As I said to them, we got ourselves into the last two weeks. We’re also the same group of men that were 4-1 the five weeks prior to that. We got ourselves into that and we got ourselves into a little lull here. For us to do it we have to be accountable for each other and get ourselves out of it. We got in it and we have to get out of it. No one’s going to help us. In this league, they love for teams to do what we’re doing right now and that’s kind of cringe a little bit or blink if you will. We can’t do that. We have to look it in the eye and we have to deal with it. We’re a good team that is very capable of playing very, very good football. So it’s up to us to get back right.
Q: Do you just need one spark like what happened in Denver?
Cable: Sometimes. But I think more than that it’s just going out and playing each down like it’s the most important. During the stretch of success we had that’s what you could say about us. We went out there and played every down like it was the absolute most important thing. I don’t feel like we’ve done that. It’s been hit or miss the last two weeks and that’s not good enough.
Q: How is San Diego different than first game?
Cable: They’re healthier. You get the left tackle back, you get a couple of receivers back, your runner is back, the tight end had some issues still. Mathews has been in and out. For the most part they’ve stayed healthy in other areas and they’ve gotten some people back so that always helps you.
Q: Why not disclose the QB change last week?
Cable: It was not about that. I think I told you from the very beginning that when he’s ready to go 100 percent he would be. Had you asked me Wednesday I would have told you. But you didn’t.
Q: But we asked Friday about pulling Jason, questions obviously geared to Jason starting, you said nothing?
A: How does that really affect though what went on in your world?
Q: In my world?
Cable: I think this. If you have a personal issue with it it’s your issue with it, that’s OK. But it’s my job as a coach to do what I think is right. Had you asked me, I’ve always told you guys the bottom line. That’s that.
Q: But it seems to be affecting the locker room, guys not knowing who the QB is?
Cable: I just met with them and I didn’t get that feeling at all.