The one thing that Tom Cable has made loud and clear, since taking over the Raiders in 2008, is that he expects to win. Certainly he’s not unrealistic, knowing the old adage, “You can’t win them all,” but that doesn’t temper his expectations every day, every week, and certainly not for any game.
Cable met with reporters today after the Raiders were finished with practice and he reiterated that same point. “You know, really, the thing I’m not comfortable with is us losing the game the way we did, to be quite honest with you,” Cable started as he deflected a question about how long Jason Campbell held onto the ball on Sunday.
“Let’s not, again, start calling guys out or whatever that is. That’s, to me, not even fair to that group or to anyone. We just have to play better as a team, period. And we will,” Cable finished admirably.In order for the Raiders to become a winning team, Cable believes that the level of their expectations needs to remain high, regardless of who they’re facing, or whatever setbacks that they have. When discussing the anguish he feels when his offensive line doesn’t perform up to expectations, he admitted that since he, being an offensive line coach, is more bothered by that than any other position group.
Most Cable’s feelings about offensive line performance comes from knowing that most of his players have been trained — because he’s been a part of that training. So, it’s understandable that he won’t lessen his expectations of that group.
“We’ve got to clean up the sacks early in the first two drives,” Cable said. “We do that, you look at it and say, ‘Wow, that really isn’t that bad for them.’ But because of that issue on the first two drives, it’s not acceptable.” The head coach became a protector of his group of protectors by clearly telling reporters, “Let’s not dump on that group. I mean, that would be stupidity by all of us.”
It wasn’t just his offensive line that Cable holds to a high level. It’s safe to say it’s his entire team that will be expected to ‘execute’ like he thinks they should, with of course the end result being winning. When being told that his run defense did perform better against Tennessee than they had in the past — minus the Chris Johnson 76-yard touchdown run — Cable agreed, but then explained how it’s not enough.
“You know the thing about that is, you can’t go back and do it,” started Cable. “They don’t give you runs over. The stats are what they are. We have a free hitter in the hole, in the long run, and we miss. That’s it. If you look at the rest of the day, it’s a, well, really a pretty good day against that team and that particular back, but it’s not good enough. A 70 yarder is a 70 yarder.”
Then Cable was reminded that the defense did perform closer to their expectations when it comes to the run defense.
“Oh yeah, sure it is,” he agreed. That’s still not going to be good enough on a Tom Cable team. Either you succeed or you don’t, and there isn’t any middle ground — which is understandable when you consider that games are usually either won or lost, not tied. And there isn’t such a thing as a co-champion.
“But, see this is the mode we have got to get out of around here. That’s not good enough. We have got to stay to this level [raising his hand just above eye level], to this vision that we have. A standard of play if you will, and don’t compromise it. Everyone wants us to, but you just can’t. We’re not gonna’ let it happen. It doesn’t really do any good. I know it’s your job and all that, but to sit around and talk about it, beat it up, analyze it, it’s like, it’s behind us and we’ve moved on, but we’ve learned from it.”
Some players have mentioned that they thought the poor play against Tennessee may have been a result of the positive offseason / preseason. For once, pundits and analysts were saying ‘good’ things about the Raiders and not the sort of things that many in the organization have grown to expect. It was theorized by some players that they may have started to believe the hype going into Sunday’s game.
In other words, they were overconfident going into their contest with the Titans, forgetting that they haven’t had a winning season in years.
“It really has been a positive offseason,” said Cable to reporters. But Cable reminded them,”We haven’t done anything for us to say, ‘Well we’re all that.’ We think we’re heading in the right direction, but it comes down to winning and achieving.”
Until that starts happening, Tom Cable is going to continue feeling uncomfortable. If this season doesn’t yield the achievements that Cable and his team expect, he’ll most likely feel uncomfortable for other reasons than winning.
- Erik Pears (OL) was signed back onto the team because there is some doubt that (OG) Robert Gallery (hamstring) will be able to play. Cable said that they are looking into starting (OL) Daniel Loper, a six-year veteran, in place of Gallery. Cable said that Gallery has a pretty good strain and that they would have to see if things change in the next 48-72 hours. The coach also intimated that if Gallery could practice on Friday, he’d most likely play on Sunday.
- In order to make room on the roster for Pears, (WR/PR/KR) Yamon Figurs was cut. Figurs, who was the starting return man on Sunday, will be replaced by Johnnie Lee Higgins on kicks and rookie receiver Jacoby Ford on punts. Cable said that Figurs’ fumble during his first return had nothing to do with the decision, offering the reason, “We just needed to take care of our team right now.“
- (RB) Michael Bush participated fully in practice on Wednesday, but whether or not he could return for this week’s game is still uncertain. The way that his left thumb is being taken care of requires the thumb to stick out straight. It would be difficult for him to a) carry a ball with one hand and b) do it in football traffic without re-injuring the thumb.
- (CB) Nnamdi Asomugha (groin) wasn’t in practice, but Cable said that he’s had an MRI that was negative and are keeping him out as a precautionary measure. Asomugha is expected to be back on Thursday.
- (DT) Richard Seymour (hamstring), (LB) Travis Goethel (back), (FS) Hiram Eugene (hamstring), (CB) Walter McFadden (hamstring), (WR) Chaz Schilens (knee), and (CB) Chris Johnson (stinger) did not participate in practice. If the corners currently injured aren’t able to go by Sunday, that could create some problems — only Stanford Routt and Jeremy Ware would be healthy enough to man the position. That would be a recipe for disaster while going against a team that just threw the ball nearly 60 times in their last game. With Eugene hobbling as well, that would leave (SS) Mike Mitchell to assume coverage duties.
- (DT) Desmond Bryant was back, and was full-go in practice. It looks like he’ll be ready for Sunday.
Work today was getting back into our routine of game week and introducing a lot of St. Louis to them and a few situations. Good work today. Talked about coming home, playing at home for the first time in the regular season and getting to play in front of the home crowd and the importance of the game. We’ll be excited and ready to go. Lot of work to do this week and we’ll just keep pounding it out.
~ Tom Cable on Wednesday’s practice