Tom Cable spoke with the media Monday, a day after his Raiders lost 31-24 to the Houston Texans in front of the smallest home crowd in over 40 years.
Cable is still not happy with how the Raiders are performing in the trenches and isn’t willing to lay any blame on key injuries as well. With the rule of thumb being 24 hours to get over a loss or beyond a victory, most of Monday was spent trying to figure out what it is they can do to avoid the same performance when San Diego comes rolling in this weekend.
The following is a transcript of the press conference with condensed questions:
Intro: OK, just to follow up from yesterday after the game. Michael Bennett with a hamstring, Darren McFadden with a hamstring, Quentin Groves with a hamstring, Thomas Howard with a knee strain and Bruce Gradkowski with an A-C (joint), took a shot to the shoulder. He felt pretty good today. How serious any of these are, Bruce probably is in the best shape of the group of five. Then, we’ll see by Wednesday morning, I would think, have a pretty good idea about Bennett, McFadden and Groves.
Q: Is there a need to bring in another running back?
A: Well, what we got to do is just see the severity of them. Neither one of them felt real bad this morning, which was good because usually the next day you know right away if you’re pretty sore. But they both really pretty good. Darren’s statement was, it’s not nearly like the one I had in camp. So, we’ll see.
Q: Any correlation among all these hamstring issues?
A: No, but I certainly have been thinking a lot about it. As much as these guys train, you worry about having your team over-train. But now that we’re in to the season, you’re kind of in your routine, so we’ll look at how much we’re doing and that sort of thing in terms of the skills players, how much they’re running during the week and see if there’s something there. But I’ve been kind of looking at that, and it’s not really any different than it’s been in the past.
Q: Some may attribute the hamstring injuries to cold weather in camp. Do you buy into that?
A: I don’t know. You would have to really dig into some fitness or exercise physiologist or something like that. I don’t know.
Q: Are you getting any players back this week?
A: We’ll know more on Wednesday. We are probably going to get a few guys back. The next two weeks, we’ll start to pare that list down and get healthier.
Q: As far as getting beat at the line of scrimmage, how much is that due to injury and how much is due to other things?
A: No, it’s not about healthy, when you’re talking about blocking and talking about defending the run, that’s not about health, that’s about getting your tail kicked, and that’s what happened. You can’t skirt around this, you can’t say, well it was this or it was that or we didn’t fit gaps right, or had a few missed tackles, yes, but all in all, just playing, throwing the fight at ‘em and we didn’t do that.
Q: Why does that happen?
A: That’s the question of the week, actually. We’ve talked about it as a team. There’s some things I’ll do to address it again even deeper. But this is an issue to me that, we prepare so well during the week, I mentioned it to them last Thursday it was the best practice we’ve had all year, but none of it really matters until one o’clock on Sunday, and what you do then matters a hundred times more than anything else. I think we’re doing a good job in taking care of our bodies, our preparations, our plans, those things seem to be good, solid, but it matters what you do on game day, and to know what’s coming at you and not handle it better than we did is disappointing, but we can’t sit around and dwell on it all week.
Q: How do you determine if it’s an issue between technique and desire on those line battles?
A: I think everything about this game starts with desire. I think that’s the most important thing, and we kind have lived by this creed this year, is how hard you play and how bad you want to succeed. That’s been our two things, and I think we’ve got our guys playing hard, but you’ve got to play that way all the time. Every snap, whether you’re playing 10 or you’re playing 80 snaps, it doesn’t matter, whatever your body has left in it you’ve got to give it. We were out there working, but not getting it done.
Q: Are you considering any lineup changes this week?
A: No, I don’t know about all that right now, I think it’s the same group that I know can defend the run and has shown it can defend the run, so will we adjust some things, perhaps because of injury and all that? Yeah, but in terms of, do we have the right people and all that, yeah, we have the right people.
Q: Do you think it would help any if you weren’t playing from behind?
A: Tried to get that going a little bit, you know, you go out and win coin toss and Arizona defers, and we get a touchdown returned on us. We answer right away which is good. Yesterday, we move the ball down, and then have to punt it away, they take the next drive and score, right away. But we answered, so yeah, I think there is something to having a better start and seeing if we can get a lead.
Q: A lot of the talk in locker room was we can get past this, we haven’t had a division game. Is that the focus for this week, now we have the division games coming up?
A: It is, but at the same time, for us to be the kind of team we think we can be, we can’t have days like yesterday. That’s just unacceptable. We all know that. We talked about it already as a team and as coaches in our meetings and on the film, and we’ve addressed that. I think it’s very clear in everyone’s mind that that isn’t acceptable. And so, yeah, it’s exciting to be playing San Diego this week, and it’s a division game and all that comes with that. It’s a great week for us and a good time for it to come, but we need to clear some things up. We’ve got to improve in some areas. Our special teams has made a ton of improvement here in this last game, and it really probably started from about halftime of that Arizona game. So we want to continue to do that. Offensively, we’re moving the ball. We’re running with some efficiency. We were horrible in the red zone at Arizona, and then we come out and go three-for-three with three touchdowns. There are some good things going on, but we need to consistently do that, and I think that’s the whole goal. Once we do that, I think we’ll be what we want to be, but we’re not there yet, but we’re working toward it.
Q: Among the long-term absences – Gallery, Schilens, Goethel – are we going to see any of those guys on the field any time soon?
A: I hope so. This week, you have the potential for one or two of those guys, but we’re looking more like next week or the week after.
Q: With back-to-back home games, does that allow you more time to concentrate on football rather than deal with travel?
A: Our travel schedule this year is pretty good. I don’t think that that’s an issue for us this year. We really have had the one long trip to Tennessee to start, and we don’t go again until Pittsburgh and Jacksonville at the end. I don’t think travel is an issue one way or the other for us this year. As you said, getting the preparation done, and as I’ve said, putting it together on Sunday.
Q: Is the gap closing with San Diego? If so, how much?
A: They’re still the one that’s on top of this division and have been for a while, so until you beat them you haven’t closed it. You’re getting closer, yeah, but right now we need to really stay focused on us, and this will be an exciting weekend, obviously, but we need to clear some things up here and move forward and get ready to play a game.
Q: What do you take from line troubles on Sunday, moving forward?
A: What you get from it is it proves a point you’ve been telling them all the time: “Every snap in a game is critical. Everything you do on Sunday is critical to succeeding.” Again, we didn’t get surprised or anything like that, We got outplayed. That’s what it was. You take from that the embarrassment, you take from that the sick feeling you have in you and you go to work.
Q: How good is that scheme that Houston runs?
A: It’s a system and if you do it, you gotta do it all the way and they’re doing it all the way. The perfect example is the first two plays of the game. It’s the exact same play, just with a little wrinkle in terms of formation the second play. They do a good job of ball handling and ball faking and they block it right up front.
Q: How did Rolando McClain do yesterday?
A: When you talk about the line of scrimmage, you’re talking about your front seven. I think everybody’s included in that (criticism). Same thing on offense, whether you’re blocking at tight end or fullback or halfback, we’re getting closer there in terms of being able to get that stuff stopped offensively. I am hopeful that we’re going to get that cleared up here quickly…
Q: Have you talked to him? How is he handling yesterday?
A: I have (talked to him). He sent me a text this morning with some of his thoughts, and it is important to him and he’s embarrassed about it like everybody.
Q: Is there a leader in the defensive huddle that can make guys commit?
A: Sure, there are a number of guys who can do that and we’ve talked about that. I think that we’ve gotta get some … some … you know … I don’t know if the word is leadership but some control, if you will, of that huddle. Not that it’s out of control or anything like that. Someone needs to step up and take charge.
Q: What do you need to do to get the pass rush going?
A: I really think that’s the biggest surprise to me. We’ve been kind of hot and cold there but when it’s cold it’s cold. We brought some pressure but didn’t get there and the straight rush wasn’t getting there either. We hit him a couple of times and hurried him a couple of times but in terms of really impacting him and sacking him and hitting him a number of times, we weren’t able to do that. That’s an area we’re looking at right now. As I’m here, they’re up there looking at because it’s been an area where we’ve had some success but it’s been very streaky.
Q: Tough to get pass rush when a team runs so well?
A: Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q: Zach Miller, your thoughts?
A: It’s a special game. Unfortunately we don’t win the game but I think anyone in that position to catch that many balls and impact the game on third down so much and in the red zone so much, that’s truly a great football game by an individual. You want to try to keep him going and playing at that level or as close to it as you can. But certainly you have to take your hat off to him. It was special.
Q: He was able to get outside more than past?
A: It’s funny because last week we talked about the way Arizona was playing in coverage. This week, they worked it defending those two young receivers. It gave him a lot of opportunity and he stepped up to it. It was good to see. I’m excited about that because we have the ability to answer now based on what you’re trying to play us and how you’re trying to play us coverage-wise about where to go with the football and who’s going to have the opportunity. He was pretty good.
Q: Will that open it up for receivers in future?
A: You hope so, probably. You have to defend him. You flat out have to or he can almost beat you doing what he does. I think it will be good for us. It will be a good thing for us as we go forward.
Q: How did Bush do, and can he carry the load if Darren is out?
A: Certainly he is. I saw a guy kind of like last week, got a little bit more work in and then had to because of Darren’s injury. He looked fine and he looks ready to go.
Q: Should you have played Louis Murphy?
A: Louis Murphy? Oh yeah. He was fine. He was fine this morning.
Q: Any update on getting John Henderson back?
A: We were doing some testing and all that today to see if we can really figure out what’s going on with this. It will be a repeat of what we did before. We have to figure out what’s going on. He was getting better every day last week and then Saturday and Sunday it got really sore doing nothing.
Q: You cut down on penalties. Have you done anything to make that happen?
A: The players have started a deal. If the defense jumps offside’s they’re running and same with the offense now. They’ve kind of taken that on their own shoulders, which is good. I like that. Yesterday when you look at the film it was just really a clean football game all over the place by both teams.