Prior to practice today, the Raiders gave access to both their offensive (Hue Jackson) and defensive (John Marshall) coordinators. Both were upbeat and at the very least seemed happy to speak with the media this morning. We’ll break it up with excerpts from Marshall, Jackson, Tom Cable’s daily, some practice details, and a quote from the ever-ready Tommy Kelly.
About San Francisco
(On having Nnamdi Asomugha shadow the other team’s number one the entire game.)
Normally we do, but it might depend on the call. Normally, if we’ve got him matched on a certain person, then we’ll leave him there the whole game. But there will be certain calls where he will get off on another guy, just because of the nature of the call and what we’re doing. Sometimes that has to do with, even a guy like Nnamdi, you only have so much practice time. So, if you keep him on one guy the whole time, that means he has to practice all those calls in various positions, and you just don’t have enough snaps for it. So, usually when we match a guy up, he’s there for at least three quarters of the game on matchups. When the opponent, whoever he might be matched up on, is in a critical position where they’re going to go definitely to him, we find a way to always get Nnamdi on him if that’s the matchup we want that week.
(On why the Raiders struggle in zone with defensive backs that do so well in man)
Well, in man coverage, really, other than knowing where the free safety is or if you have any help deep, whether it’s two safeties deep, one guy in the middle or zero blitz, nobody, when you’re manned up, ‘Hey, that’s my guy’ and they cover. There aren’t any mistakes. In zone coverage, you rely on each other. You kind of know where guys are, they got to make calls. Just a simple cover-4, a quarters coverage, where we got four deep, three underneath, that takes a lot of communication, before and after the ball is snapped. If you don’t get that communication, and even at this level, guys are reluctant to talk. You get quiet guys. Michael Huff will talk, and he’s got a real vocal voice, that deep voice that he blurts out things. Whereas if you get a guy like Tyvon, Tyvon’s a quiet guy. He has to work at getting it out. Mike Mitchell, he’s not necessarily that kind of guy, either. So, they have to work hard at it. So, consequently, if their communication isn’t loud enough and it’s not communicated, more than a breakdown, it’s usually a lack of communication, which is a breakdown. But it’s not like a blown coverage. It’s just they didn’t communicate it.
(On whether or not McClain was responsible for not sealing the gap on Frank Gore’s 64-yard run in comparison to the same play where he tackled Gore behind the line on the 49ers’ next series.)
He…whoever was responsible for that gap out there, I don’t remember, I don’t think it was him, but whoever was responsible for the gap didn’t get in the gap. And the play that he made behind the line of scrimmage was a football play. There was, on this time, a gap opened up and he just played football, went and got it. Was he supposed to be out around? Yeah. Over the top? Yeah. But I just tell them, ‘Hey if you make a football [play], I don’t want a bunch of iron deer on the lawn, you know, and just cardboard cutouts.’ ‘Oh, I’m doing what the coach said to do. Not making any plays, but I’m doing that.’ [laughs] No, so he just made a football play on that one.
(On what Denver’s offense most closely resembles among teams the Raiders have already played this season)
Maybe a little bit of San Diego, that kind of thing. It’s a New England offense. They’ve got a good core of wide receivers. Orton is working extremely well right now, and their offensive line, they’re a good offense.
(On how difficult Orton is to defend and sack)
He can get the ball out quick. If he gets his read and he gets the ball out quick, he’s like any quarterback, they get pressure, and that kind of thing, whether by a four man rush or designed pressure, they don’t do quite as well. I hope, you know. He does a good job. He really does. If he doesn’t pressure he’s going to complete some balls.
(On if the Raiders need to prepare differently for a Denver team that is more pass first (ranked third in the NFL) this season)
Yeah. Well, No. 1, our thought still is run, because they’ve got backs that can beat you, and they came in here last year, same head coach and everything, and they ran for a lot of yards. Too many yards. So we still have to make sure that they know they can’t run the ball, and that’s taken care of. Then you’ve got to the other problem where you have to get pressure on the passer, and in order to really play good run defense you’ve got to be sound and basic in the front, which means your guys aren’t just flying up the field to get the pass rush. So you know, just trying to play to their tendencies, and defend the run. And if they run the ball while you’re pass rushing you’ve got to defend the run on the way. They will run it effectively enough to sustain drives and cause you problems.
(On the Raiders dialing up so many blitzes against San Diego towards the end of the game and not doing it all that often)
Well, I’ll tell you what, that was a situation thing. We could not allow them to get into field goal range. And so, when they get to a certain part of the field, you gotta go. And it was working, and it was fun to call, and I’d much rather be calling that kind of game, just kind of dial ‘em up, like a rolodex, oh yeah, let’s run this one. You know.
(Why the Raiders don’t blitz more often)
Sure you could [blitz more]. But you’ve also got a chance of a big play either popping, I’m talking in normal situations first and second down, we’re just going after him. That certainly is not our stance on this game. But that would be like in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter kind of thing. But when you get to that situation in the game that demanded that kind of a call. But, hey, you’re thought process isn’t wrong because my daughters, my wife, ‘Dad, why weren’t you doing that all game?’ I know, we should have.
Marshall said that Quentin Groves is healthy and he’s back at weak-side linebacker during practice. While he said, “no absolute has been set down, but that’s what we’re working towards,” if Groves was to start this Sunday, then Trevor Scott would get the start at right defensive end. He also had some really good things to say about Matt Shaughnessy, who has filled in while Scott was at linebacker.
Oh hey, he’s a–he is a great example of a guy that just works. Just works. He brings his lunch bucket, you know, and his brown bag to work, and he works. And he’s very attentive to what Waufle says to him, he takes to coaching, and he just keeps working and working and working. And he’s–and the great thing about him that he has gotten into his game on a real consistent bas–he’s a tough son of a gun. I mean he plays hard. If he can hurt you, you know, if he can maim you a little bit, he’s gonna’ try and do it. I mean he’s gonna’ put the screws to you, and that’ is what we need badly, is that kind of attitude, you know. And that’s just kinda’ grown in him. He’s become more confident and now he’s more of an impact.
About San Francisco
(On his assessment of the play of the offense in the middle of the game)
We didn’t play well. Period. There is no excuse. I take full responsibility for that. We didn’t play like I think we can play, and that’s on me. As I told our players, my job is to make sure we play well and get them to play well, and I don’t run from that, and we didn’t. We didn’t uphold our end of the bargain, and that’s not fair to our football team, to the defense, who I thought fought hard. We need to play better. We can and we will and I expect us to.
(On not having an answer to the 49ers defense once they stopped the run)
Well, I think we had answers. The execution, as you said, wasn’t up to what it had been over the last five weeks prior to. That’s disappointing on all levels. And we need to do that better. We’ve got to do that better. Our quarterback has got to play good, we’ve got to protect, we’ve got to throw and catch, and we’ve got to run better. There was no phase of the offense that particular day that I was happy about. Like I said, that starts with me, and I’ve got to get those guys to play at that level, and that’s what we’re going to do.
(On looking back at the game and wondering if he played it too conservative at times)
Let me say this. We can do it better than what it was. Obviously there are several plays that you could use and go back and say you wished you used this one or that one, but when you call a play, the execution needs to be at a high level. There’s a good part of a play and there’s a bad part of a play. Sometimes you guess wrong and they guess right. That’s part of it, but I think overall what we need to do is just execute at a higher level than what we’re executing.
(On Campbell looking less comfortable in the pocket as the game went on)
I think that’s in any situation where you have those opportunities and then you don’t cash them in. It’s like anything. You start pressing a little bit. I thought maybe the whole offense and that feeling of just wanting to do it and get it done and win the game and knew that boy, we’ve got to nail one of these opportunities, sometimes you press just a little bit more than what you should. So I just think again it’s just the confidence level of playing, the confidence level of just going out and executing what we call, the way we call it and getting it done.
(On whether or not Campbell’s knee injury had anything to do with his play late in the game)
No. No. I mean, if he’s out there playing it has nothing to do with injury or anything. It’s just total execution on everybody’s part, and we’ve got to get it better.
(On if he puts added pressure on his players when coming into a game against a team with a top offense like Denver)
It is no different than any game we play. There’s added pressure in every game. This is the National Football League, the best of the best. We’re going to play good teams that have good offenses. We don’t go in saying hey, this offense is better than the other. We know what we need to do. Our job is to score points, and that was the disappointing part. We were down there three times and came away with three field goals. That’s the disappointing part of the game for me. It wasn’t the yards at the end of the game. It wasn’t that we didn’t do this or do that, but when you have chances to cash it in, as we had gotten better over the last two weeks, it’s like we took a step back this past week. Because if you score a couple of those touchdowns, it may be a different game. And credit goes to San Francisco. They did a great job, but that being said, if we can execute the way I think we can, the way we had prior to, then that’s a different football game, and hopefully that’s the goal this week, to go out and execute our offense better than what we did. And our players understand that, and I think we all do.
(The Raiders have won four of their last six road divisional games — Does that breed success?)
Hey, let’s keep it rolling. No doubt. We’re a 2-4 football team right now that’s going to Denver to play in our division against a team who’s in our division. They’ve played well and done some good things. The Raiders, as you said, have been there the last couple years, if I’m not mistaken, and done well. We want to keep that going, but it all starts on this practice field, and it’s got to carry over to the game.
(On if he expects McFadden to play on Sunday)
I do. He’s out here working in practice. He’s done a good job. Obviously the medical staff still has to sign off on it, give him the OK, but he’s out here working hard every day.
(With just one healthy tight end, will Khalif Barnes go out for a pass?)
Hey, you never know. [with a big smile]
(On how difficult it is to make a game plan while down to just one tight end)
It’s no different – we were at two running backs last week. We’ll prepare for any disaster that could happen, hope it doesn’t happen, but we have a plan in place in case something happens to where we’re short in an area to make sure that we can still go win the game and finish the game.
(On how he’s doing this week)
I’m making it. Licking my wounds. That’s what I’m doing.
(On Gradkowski and if he’s able to throw to the level where he could play in a game)
He’s working at it. I can’t tell you for sure he is. I know he’s working at it, and obviously we don’t play until Sunday, and as you guys know, a lot of improvement can be made between now and Sunday. He’s out here firing it around a little bit, but he is definitely improving.
(On if he has an idea who his starting quarterback will be this Sunday)
No I don’t. We have not [decided]. All three guys are working. Obviously, we have some injury issues. We’re going to work through those. Those guys are practicing. Jason is getting work. Kyle’s getting work. Bruce is probably getting the least amount of work, but he’s working. It could be a game-time decision for making a decision about who the quarterback is. We’re not going to let that slow our football team down. Obviously it’s the most important position on offense, but we’ve got to prepare to go play this and game and to go win, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
(On if he ever second-guesses his play calling after a game)
As a play-caller, you always go back. There’s a lot of sleepless nights when you lose. That’s just part of the deal, but that being said, I think our players know sometimes we leave more plays out there than we should. We’re back to that mode again of there’s plays to be made and we don’t make ‘em. You have to understand why. You go back and you tear it down again, but that one’s behind us and we’ve got to move forward. But there’s no question that we had our chances in that game and we didn’t take full advantage of them.
(On how to cure the problems with the run game in the red zone)
Again, defense’s change. It gets tough as you get closer to the goal line. People play a little bit different. That being said, it still goes back to what we just talked about, it goes back to execution. Our guys, whether you miss a block here or there – it’s hard enough when you’re down there to go make those scores, but you don’t want to compound it with penalties and negative plays that hurt your offensive football team. That was something we thought we had got away from. We had those early in the year, but it reared its ugly head again this past week at a very inopportune time. We’ve just got to work against that, and our players know it, I know it, and that’s our focus and our emphasis this week.
(On if the offensive line should be more in sync and have fewer mental mistakes at this point in the season)
No question, and sometimes it could be mental and it could be physical. But again, we’re getting players back. That was Robert’s [Gallery] first game back in a long time. He’s a veteran player, and he came out there, and he fought hard. But again, just getting used sometime to playing next to a guy again, who’s’ been out, you go back through that process again. We’re all pros and we would wish that that doesn’t exist, but sometimes that does happen. These guys are another week better. We’re going to put last week behind us. We’re going down to Denver. It’s a division game against a good football team, a team that knows us well and a team that we know, and we’ll look to go win this game.
Did Not Practice
Chaz Schilens (knee)
Jon Henderson (foot)
Brandon Myers (concussion)
Thomas Howard (knee)
Michael Bennett (hamstring)
Darren McFadden (hamstring)
Jason Campbell (knee)
Bruce Gradkowski (shoulder)
Travis Goethel (back)
Tyvon Branch (back)
On the quarterbacks
(On what Campbell and Gradkowski were able to do in terms of practice)
They all did a little bit more today but it was kind of like yesterday in terms of rep breakdown and all that. Pretty even for Kyle and Jason. Bruce got very little. Did a lot of individual work and some light throwing but nothing more than that.
(On Gradkowski being out for Sunday)
It depends. He felt really good today. Yesterday it didn’t bother him and if he can do a lot tomorrow, who knows?
(On if Campbell’s injury needs to improve in order for him to play Sunday)
I think so. That’s definitely a real key in terms of being able to run and get around.
(Could Campbell have played if the game was Thursday)
I don’t know that he could have today. That’s a true statement. He could go back, call plays and throw it but to be able to run and do the things he’s got to be able to do, it’d be pretty iffy.
Cable also said that Campbell’s MRI on his knee showed nothing as far as a tear.
(On Kyle Boller’s grasp of the offense)
Good. He’s fine. The good news about that is he’s been in this exact terminology in his career. For him it’s really not a transition or big curve for him to get caught up. He’s kind of on point every week.
On other injured players
(On how Goethel is doing in his first week on the practice field)
He felt pretty good. All day. So we did a little bit more with him, again, I think he’s probably a week away, it’s good to get him back out there and we’re able to add a little more work with him each day.
Apparently, Goethel had back surgery called a Discectomy, which is an outpatient surgery for a herniated disc. The recovery is 2-8 weeks for regular folks. Click here for more information on it.
(On if Goethel will be playing in a week)
Yeah. We figured once he was back working it would be a couple of weeks.
(On if he’s talked with Schilens and where he’s at with his injury right now)
I have [talked with him]. He is on the field, working now, there’s no running, nothing quick twitch or anything like that, just trying to get him back on his feet.
He’s getting close. Definitely, he’s getting close. We were hoping that we would get him back out there this week but, um, he’s very close so I would hope next week we can.
(If he’s ready to join the defensive back rotation)
I don’t think so, yet. But I do think he’s healthy now so he’s able to go back to work and that would give him the best chance to get himself ready to, or as you put it, to get back into the rotation. But he missed quite a bit of time there.
(On Denver’s defense without Elvis Dumervil and if it changed the way they get pressure on defense)
No, no. It’s the same stuff. Really with him it was more getting him in a matchup, in a one-on-one matchup, and pressuring away from him, those kind of things.
(On anything the Raiders can carry over from their victory over the Chargers with both San Diego and Denver having high powered offenses)
I think it’s different. It’s a different strategy, a different concept, really, in terms of doing it. These guys will, Denver will kind of remind you of what San Diego used to be with with Vincent Jackson, with a number of weapons all over the field, when there was three receivers. But their style of play and all the spread and everything is a little different.
(On if the plan is to try and disrupt Kyle Orton the same way they were able to disrupt Phillip Rivers)
Well, I know this – we’ve got to get Kyle out of rhythm. I mean, you have to do that. If he’s allowed to stand back there and just throw it around, they’re very, very good at receiver, and that’s his thing – when he’s comfortable, he’s darn good.
(On winning the last four of six road divisional games and what that says about the team)
I think what it says is its important when we play our division opponents. I think that’s what that reflects. We understand the importance of it. We understand if you go and play your best ball on the road and play it against a divisional opponent, you have a chance to succeed. That’s what that record says. This is a good team that throws the ball very well and pressures all over the place.We’ve got to go in there and be at our best. That’s the bottom line.
Quote of the day
They’re going to run the ball. At this point, they wouldn’t be doing the right thing and give your offense a good chance if you didn’t run against us. With what we’ve been showing.
– Tommy Kelly on expecting the Denver Broncos to emphasize the run this Sunday