Tom Cable took the podium on Monday and it was a different Raiders head coach than what we’ve seen since the start of training camp. Glimpses of this new coach began to show immediately after the Raiders upset the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
During his postgame press conference, Cable appeared to be angry and terse in his responses to media questions. He wasn’t rude, but he was sure to point out on more than one occasion that he was aware of the skepticism he’s been getting from the media, and his tone made it clear that a win made him a little angrier about it.
On Monday, he was gracious enough to step to the podium again to answer questions on the state of the Oakland Raiders. Here’s the transcript from Monday’s session:
OK, we’ll bring you up to speed in terms of injuries. Nick Miller (shin) will be out again this week. Chaz Schilens (foot) will be back and ready to go. We’ll talk later in the week about how we’re going to put that group together in terms of who or who might not dress so I really have nothing for you today on that. McFadden (knee) will be out this week, Gallery (leg) and Green (calf) with both be questionable. Both have made significant improvement but it will be a matter of Wednesday or Thursday whether or not we can get the work necessary for those guys to be ready to play. Ricky Brown (ankle) will be out and then Greg Ellis is continuing to battle some arthritis, basically some swelling in the knee and we’ll just deal with that on a day to day basis. Nnamdi (eye) OK at this point, he’ll wear a shield now and really everyone else in good shape.
A little bit about the game. Pretty much how I felt yesterday is pretty much how I felt today watching it. Tremendous team effort by our football team. All three phases kind of contributed. The most important thing for us to do now is realize the fact that we still have to get better in some areas but hopefully we’ll take from it the how-to in terms of fighting for each other, playing for each other. The best example is the Zach Miller touchdown and the effort obviously by Louis Murphy I think really shows what we’re trying to be as a football team and we’ll just continue to harp on those things and keep building it in what we think is the right way.
Game balls for this game. The one I gave to Shane Lechler right after the game and that’s the only one on special teams. Defensively there were two. Kirk Morrison did a tremendous job with a lot of formations by Philadelphia of getting us all lined up and adjusted, probably the best job he’s done in a couple years. Tyvon Branch, a tremendous amount of production out of Tyvon in terms of coverage and tackling, being a force out there. And then offensively, Zach Miller continues to block well and catch the ball, and Gary Russell.
Does a win like this help teach them how to win?
I think so Steve. I think the difference for me and some of the others, and there haven’t been a lot, but the others, is how we just kept fighting and kept going back out. It didn’t matter if it was a kicking situation or offense or defense. I feel like there’s a lot to be said to that. The most important thing, as I said, is for us to realize today after watching this film that we have many areas to get better as a football player and as a football team but an area in which I’m, and I told them this, I’m going to assume now that you will bring the fight every Sunday. I feel good about saying that and that’s what I want to take from that football game.
What do you think of Gary Russell’s performance?
Good. He needs more reps in terms of the variations, different fronts and different fits and all that at that position. But he targeted really well. It’s just a matter of, are you on the inside pec or the outside pec when you fit up. Things like that that comes with experience at that spot. But, man, oh, man, he gave us a lot of explosiveness in there and knocked some guys around in there pretty good. He was able to seal a couple of runs lanes and caught the ball well. The thing that he does well, that people don’t quite understand is, he’s a really good pass protector, and it showed up yesterday in some of their pressures.
Were you aware of his pass-catching ability and his ability to get extra yards?
Yeah. You saw that in camp. As I said yesterday when we talked about Gary, we felt that after camp it became a numbers issue at the tailback spot. But here’s a guy with a little bit of size to him, and he helped us at that spot. He certainly proved in that very short period of time that he’s capable.
How concerned are you with the lack of production by your wide receivers?
Well, it all is. We have a long way to go offensively to get where we want to be. Yesterday, we hung in there and battled the right way. We blocked a little bit better. We did throw some balls off target and all that but we made a couple of plays, we made one big play, we were able to use the backs throwing the football a little bit yesterday. It’s all a concern, really. We have a long way to go. We have to get better.
How far can JaMarcus take this team? How far away is he from being the quarterback who is supposed to be a number one pick?
Well, the word you used there is a scary word, ‘supposed’ to be because of where he’s picked. There are a lot of things supposed to be a certain way in this world, but they’re not. Where he is, where he goes with it will, ultimately, be up to him. How good he wants to be, how much he’s willing to, ultimately, put into it to get what he should get out of it. He’s just like everyone else on this football team, particularly on offense. They got to take the thought that yesterday was nice, it feels good to wake up today, but we need to get better.
You said one win, you feel good, two and you gain confidence, three and you gain belief. How do you get to confidence?
That’s what it is today. It’s just we feel good about yesterday. You have to put them together. You have to put them together, you have to have consistency. So, today we feel good. We have to go back to work this afternoon.
What was the difference for this team against the Eagles after how they played in New York?
I think when you’re trying to learn to win and you have issues going on – maybe it’s youth, maybe this, maybe a lineman out, maybe it’s someone wants to talk about your run defense – I think people tend to get kind of scatterbrained when you throw all those issues. They make too much out of all of that instead of just worrying about us, worrying about our purpose.
Like I told ‘em before, I know we have good players. Whether or not y’all agree with me, it doesn’t matter. That’s what I believe and that’s what it is. And I know we have enough scheme. And so in order to prove it, you have to go out and take a win. You have to go get it. You have to get it, reach for it with both hands and grab it. And that’s what we did yesterday. We fought for ourselves. That’s the only way to look at it.
This league is so even and so balanced when it really gets down to who’s got what on paper, and it’s the teams that will continue to improve fundamentally and the teams that will go out every Sunday and fight their rear ends off for each other, they’re the best teams in this league. And when that happens enough, you gain confidence. And that’s what we need to do, is to do it enough to gain confidence to be the kind of team we think we can be.
Nnamdi Asomugha said that John Marshall might get yelled at for blitzing so much, who would yell at him?
I don’t know, maybe it’s one of the players. I have no idea. Will we blitz? To me, you blitz based on if you can get there, if you can execute it. We did a great job of that yesterday. I think so long as we can do it, why not? Why not?
Do you know of players requesting a more aggressive defensive scheme?
Well, I think we’ll do what we can, and what we think it takes to win every Sunday. I think that has to be our sole purpose, whatever that is.
Do you test blitzes during the game, or do you install them prior to the start of the game?
Well, I think you have to do that. You have to be ready to adjust. You gotta go for it. You gotta put it out, you gotta make the call and go for it. One of the things that happened to them, they lost their left tackle. So that made some of the blitzes better, because now you get a guy out there who’s not used to playing, especially against a guy like Richard Seymour, who has a lot of power, so he’s able to cave that side down and let the blitz come free and work off that, not only to his side but the other side. So I think it’s just a combination of all that. We did what we needed to win the game, and if it meant more blitzing, it meant more blitzing. And let’s keep doing it if that’s what we’re good at.
After looking at the tape, how did the offensive line do?
Uh, good. You know, the first sack we took was without question on JaMarcus. If he’d just push up. They brought an overload blitz left, we did a great job of sliding to it with both backs picking ‘em up. And then he bailed out that way. Don’t know why. The next one, simply was just getting mismatched at right tackle. So those you gotta live with. Those are gonna happen. Pressure-wise, there were three other times in the game, so five times when he had to do something in the pocket. From a week ago, that’s down about 12. So that’s a good thing.
What did you think of Justin Fargas’ performance?
I thought he played very well. I thought that he was able to punch some holes in there. He was able to get in the run lanes. As you know, I have a fondness for him in that he plays the game the way I think your supposed to. He’s just all out and really doesn’t worry about his body or whatever that is and he just goes at the defense a thousand miles an hour and let the smoke clear and do it again. I like that. I like that. I think our team needs that. I think it’s good for our team. I think that really kind of underlines taking the fight to the opponent. So, proud of him and proud of what he brings to the table.
Talk about the fourth and one call and what went wrong on that play?
You know it’s just an underthrow. Really. We were uncovered in the flat to Gary Russell, so we should’ve just put the ball there and move the chains and gone on or possibly even could’ve kept it and ran for the touchdown. But they did come out of coverage on Louis [Murphy] and so you gotta’–like I said to JaMarcus, ‘Okay, you saw it and you took the shot. Now we gotta’ make that play. If we’re gonna’ take the shot, we gotta’ make the play.’ Can’t, can’t be down on him going for it because they came out of coverage. He was uncovered deep. Certainly could’ve dumped it or ran it in himself for the first down.
Is that call an example of what you were saying about ‘taking the fight’ to the Eagles?
Absolutely. I can talk all I want about, you know, going out there and fighting and competing and all that as a football team, but I have to be that for them as well. You know I have to go for it, I have to be aggressive, I have to push it just like I’m asking them to do.
You’ve got a big rotation on the defensive line, are they beginning to get used to playing with each other now?
Well, I think they know each other well. I think we’re just fortunate to be quite honest with you. We’ve got a number of good players at that spot and you don’t get a drop off when you start to substitute guys and I think we’ve been really blessed to have those two young kids show up like that. It seems like the last couple of weeks we’re getting more out of Jay Richardson and I think that’s a positive too.
Can you speak to what Richard Seymour has brought to your team?
You know, I think he’s a pro. And what I mean by that is, I think every day, if you’re around here you see him come in like this afternoon, he’ll be here tomorrow. He’ll come in and take care of his body. He’ll go in and he’ll be in the tub, and he’ll get the kinks worked out and he’ll do whatever he needs to do; ice, stim, lift, run. You know, he knows there’s a process, a long season. So if you don’t take care of your body the right way, it gives up on you at the end there.
Then you’ll see him come in and he takes notes and he talks about it, ‘Hey what about this,’ and he asks Dwayne or John, ‘Hey, how ’bout this,’ or, ‘What if we get this?’ And he talks to the other players and he’s constantly working his trade with the guys around him, with his coaches, he’s constantly, ‘Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page,’ talking about it, and how we’re going to do–‘How I’m going to play,’ ‘I’m going to rush this guy,’ ‘I can one-arm this guy,’ ‘I can chop-club this guy.’ He’s constantly doing that. I think that, that’s what he brings to the table. He’s showing everybody else ‘How to’ and I think that’s a big deal.
Did you know all that about Seymour before bringing him into the fold?
I’d heard a lot about that, but you don’t know until you get him, and I think we’ve been real fortunate to get a guy that really goes after it every day, because it’s his job and because he loves it, and he wants to be successful, and in that way he brings a ton to the table.
Do you think Ellis is similar to Seymour in how he prepares? How much are they rubbing off on the younger guys?
I think a tremendous amount. Consider this, if you were Matt Shaughnessy and Desmond Bryant you’re getting the greatest education as a rookie player you could ever ask for, by two guys, not just one, but by two, who do it the right way from how they eat and how they sleep, what they put in their body, how they study, how they take care of their body, how they practice. If you’re taking notes, man, you’re getting the education as a lifetime, really.
Is there another player that you might look to add before the trade deadline?
I think potentially, we’ll see what tomorrow brings, we’ll see what tonight brings. We haven’t had a discussion yet, we’ll just see what the next 24 hours brings.
Defensive players are huddling up more, is that something that came from the coaching staff or something they did on their own?
It’s a little bit of both. Instead of when you come off the sideline, and the linebackers go to linebacker coach and the D-line to the D-line, let’s stay together and problem solve, and branch out to your own position. I think you get some feedback from each other that’s real important. You might hear something from a safety if you’re playing defensive end, what he’s seeing and feeing, or vice-versa. I think they’ve done a nice job of working on that together. Yesterday was a good team effort and I think that’s another example.
What do you need to do to get Johnnie Lee Higgins going?
Keep supporting him. He’s like a guy, he took a pretty mean shot there opening night, and he’s got to get over it and deal with it and it’s part of this game, but at this point you can’t say he has gotten over it. So you’ve got to hang in there with him, keep supporting him, and if it’s some time, and you feel it’s not going to work you’ve got to make a change.
Does the return of Chaz Schilens spell the end of Javon Walker?
I haven’t even thought about that. Have not thought about that. We’ll do that here obviously here in the next 48 hours. In terms of being done with him, no, I wouldn’t go there. He had some opportunities yesterday and wasn’t able to get into it like he had hoped he would.
Will Chris Morris move back to center when Robert Gallery comes back?
I think when the time comes we’ll evaluate, and that’s something we’re doing now. They’re both playing, so we’re getting a great evaluation right now, and we’ll just do what we think is best for our team.
Do you think Asomugha will miss any practice time?
It doesn’t look like it. It doesn’t look like it all all. Potentially Wednesday, but no. If we had to go out and work tomorrow, they said he could go, so we should be fine.
How much do you coach Janikowski, or do you just leave him alone considering how well he’s doing?
Um, you know (Cable knocks on wood), he’s doing great. Seabass is doing great. Just keep knocking it right between the pipes. We have fun. I’m talking about Shane and Seabass and I. We talk about a lot of things. We haven’t really talked about it. I just know he’s gone out there and he’s been really good for this team.
What has Schilens done to prove that he’s ready to play?
Well, the work obviously in practice, the fact that we’ve given it ample time, a week more than first thought and how he feels, to be quite honest with you. He worked out both Friday and then Saturday, ran Sunday morning, yesterday morning, and has had no issues. He’s excited, we’re excited, and obviously he’ll add to our offense.
What is it that Schilens has that the rookies (Murphy and Heyward-Bey) are still learning?
I think confidence. I think he knows he can go out and change a game. I think he knows he can go out and make a play and catch a touchdown. He went through that same process himself a year ago and at the end, got over those hurdles. Obviously prior to him breaking his foot this year he was well on his way to putting himself in position to have a lot of success. So I would say it’s confidence.
What does Murphy have to do to get more consistent? Do you expect uneven play with a rookie receiver?
Sure I do. I know that’s going to happen with Louis. One thing about those two kids yesterday, and they have for three weeks now, they really blocked very, very well. They are knocking guys to the ground. There was a shot, Fargas ran about a 14-yard play to our right into their boundary and Darrius flat-backs the corner right on their bench. Good hands inside, good feet, good finish, all that. Just like you’d coach it. Louis is down there and gets after the corner and gets him again, gets up and starts to walk away and the guy hits him in the back. They’re doing the things you have to do that way, now we have to get those same kinds of plays catching the ball.
What happened with the timeout on the punt?
They were late coming off their boundary. We had held our punt return team and started to come on. It looked to me like they were going to try to maybe go for it. It was fourth-and-1 or a little bit less than one so it was a decision about whether we go safe punt or not. It got miscommunicated. We have to do a better job as coaches of handling that.
Was the sideline penalty on you?
Did they say anything to you about the call?
He said that he clearly hooked him and he didn’t. You can’t hook a guy and catch a ball with two hands. That’s what I argued. It is what it is.
Did they say why they threw the flag on you?
I wasn’t real friendly.
Was the replay (on the flagged interception) clear?
As clear as you are sitting in that chair.
What have you done to get the penalties down this year?
That’s a focused football team. That’s a team that’s doing the little things. You’re playing as hard as you can but you’re playing the right way. As I mentioned here about 15 minutes ago, the most important thing for me this week is for us to do it again. That’s really all I care about. Do it again.
Would you say that it was the best the offensive line has done in the running game this season?
I think that first game they were better. We’ll get that straightened. We will.