After each of the last two Raiders wins, Tom Cable has made a point to tell his team, and reporters, that there are plenty of things that still need to be fixed before he’s satisfied. With dominating wins by 30-plus points the last two weeks, it’s likely that the Raiders’ head coach will never quite be satisfied — unless he’s holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
Cable’s offensive coordinator reiterated much of the same sentiment on Thursday while speaking with the media at Raiders HQ in Alameda. “We’re playing football,” said Jackson as he began to downplay the offensive outburst of the last two weeks. “Our players, they’ve bought into what we’re doing.”
“They’re doing it every day. It shows up here on the practice field and it’s beginning to show up in the game. But those were two games. We hope to get that kind of production every week if we can. But we all know that that’s just execution by our players. They’re playing well, and we need to continue to do so.“
In those two victories, his quarterback has completed 27 passes to eight different receivers and hasn’t tossed a single interception in the process of carrying a QB rating over 120.0 in both games. His offensive line has allowed just four sacks in those games while opening gaping holes for a run game that has yielded 567 rushing yards. That’s what Jackson calls ‘just playing football.’
While it may seem that Jackson it being humble, he did happen to admit that things on his side of the ball are looking the way he’d hoped it would at the beginning of the season. “Over the last two weeks, we’re playing football the way I always envision us playing,” said Jackson before qualifying that statement. “We’re still not where I expect us to be.”
“Everybody talks about the yards, the points and all that. But our players know that there’s still opportunities that we’re leaving out there. We haven’t played that perfect game yet. We’re chasing perfection here. We’re not just trying to do what we do one time, two times. We hope to be what we’re becoming every week.”
Since taking over the position, officially, as the Raiders’ head coach, Cable has had a plan of how to turn around the much maligned franchise. When he’s accomplished another one of his goals, he talks about checking it off of a list that he has that details what it takes before the team has finally reached his goal of being one of the top teams in the league. Two dominating wins in a row seems to have been part of that list, as Cable called them, “another one to check off the list.”
What is Cable’s reasoning for the teams’ latest success? “I think that the most important thing is the true concept of ‘team’ has taken hold here, and that we really go out there for each other and play for each other, in all three phases, and I think we’re all pulling the same direction for once, and it’s a good thing to see.”
According to Cable, this ‘concept of team’ isn’t something that just happened after the loss to the 49ers three weeks ago. Instead, Cable said that the players got on board with the concept of team back in training camp. “We did a lot of things about team building and just simply getting to know each other and learning to communicate with each other,” said Cable.
“I’ve seen it building. That’s why for me personally it was a little frustrating early in the year because I knew we were better than what our record showed. The last two weeks have certainly validated that it’s coming together.”
Now Jackson and Cable hope to prepare their team well enough to get over another hump this Sunday — get a win at home against a Chiefs team that has won seven straight games in Oakland. Along with ending that losing streak, a win this Sunday would put the Raiders over .500 after nine games and give them a step up on winning the AFC West — both haven’t been done in Oakland since the 2002 season.
Players have told members of the media that practice this week has gone well, but their head coach isn’t as easily satisfied. When asked about Thursday’s practice and whether or not this week’s practice has been as good as he’s seen as head coach, Cable responded frankly, “No. I think it’s been good, but there’s always — I mean that’s a coach’s perspective — there’s always things.”
Cable went on to explain what he meant by that statement, and gave some insight into his perfectionism in the process. “We just walked off the field and there’s three things I wrote down on my list that I want to make sure we got done tomorrow, because I didn’t feel great about ‘em today. They were OK, but we gotta’ get better, and really that’s the normal process of the week, you’re putting your game plan in, but the work’s been excellent. I’m pleased with it, but I don’t know that a coach ever feels like everything’s great and perfect and all that.”
And that may be the formula that puts the Raiders on top of the AFC West.
- (WR) Louis Murphy (lung), (WR) Chaz Schilens (knee), (TE) Zach Miller (foot), (DT) John Henderson (foot), and (CB) Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle) did not practice. Of the five, Miller is the only player expected to play on Sunday, but Cable said he’ll be listed as questionable.
- (WR) Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder), (OC) Samson Satele (knee), (QB) Bruce Gradkowski (shoulder), and (FS) Hiram Eugene (pec) were all limited in practice.
- Gradkowski will not start (Campbell will), but whether or not he’ll be the backup or the emergency quarterback hadn’t been decided. Cable said Gradkowski is much improved over last week, but he wants to see how the starter looks on Friday before deciding if the sixth-year signal caller from Toledo will be one, or two plays away from playing in the game.
- The Raiders brought in former Raiders center Jake Grove on Wednesday in the event that Satele’s knee sprain would require a lengthy stay on the injury report. As of Thursday, Grove wasn’t signed, signaling that Satele may be healthy enough to play on Sunday.
- Thomas Howard (knee) isn’t listed on the injury report and practiced fully. The former starter at linebacker may have also lost some of his responsibility on defense to Mike Mitchell. In some of the passing formations, Mitchell has been taking Howard’s place and doing well in the process. Cable said he expects Howard to help on special teams and back up.
- Originally, Schilens’ injury was supposed to take three to six weeks to heal. Six weeks was over two weeks ago and Schilens still isn’t practicing. According to Cable, “I just think the procedure that was done was not something real minor or anything like that. It was fairly extensive, so it takes time.“
- The Raiders requested a 24 hour extension in order to sell out the Coliseum and avoid a blackout on Sunday. A Raiders official confirmed this and said, “There are still tickets available.” No further information was given.
- Cable said that he and the players are very excited about the opportunity to play in front of a sold-out home crowd — the first for Oakland since the Monday night opener of 2009. “I’m very excited about that. I know that for the players and everything, that will be a huge step in the right direction of bringing everything together, the team, the fan base, the community and all that. So, it is very exciting news.“