Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Report Cards
Marques Tuiasosopo (Getty Images)
S&BI
Posted Dec 6, 2005


The Oakland Raiders inched closer to a quarterback change, with coach Norv Turner responding to a general question about the offensive line by saying the staff would be looking into the possibility of starting Marques Tuiasosopo in place of Kerry Collins.

Turner said a final decision would be made Wednesday, although it seemed unlikely the coach would float the possibility of starting the popular backup and then name Collins the starter against the Jets.

"I wouldn't have brought it up if it wasn't something we were considering strongly," Turner said. "We'll make the decision in the next couple of days."

Tuiasosopo, who hasn't played since the 2003 season -- and then suffered a season-ending knee injury in his first start -- was doing his best to keep his excitement under wraps after a brief conversation with Turner.

"I definitely feel like I have a better chance," Tuiasosopo said. "That's always exciting. I'll lay low for a couple of days. On Wednesday, we'll all know, and we'll go from there."

Collins, who had just one interception in his first 246 passes and has had eight since -- including one run back 70 yards for a touchdown against San Diego -- reiterated following a 34-10 loss to San Diego he considered himself the starter.

Tuiasosopo said he did not expect any awkward moments with Collins.

"It's part of the business, we both understand," Tuiasosopo said. "It's not different than if it were Rich (Gannon) and I. We both want to win, and we both want to play. That's no secret."

Turner brought up the possibility of a change during a question about the offensive line, and said that issue was a big reason for considering a switch.

"We've got to look at the quarterback thing and say, 'Is it time to look at Tui?'" Turner said. "With his mobility, would that help us?"

Wide receiver Jerry Porter said he feels comfortable with Tuiasosopo, having worked with him for the last five years, but he didn't want to address the issue Monday before a final decision had been made.

Following Oakland's loss to San Diego, Porter said Collins was not the reason for the Raiders' defeat.

"I'm behind the guy," Porter said. "I don't care what anybody says. You are not going to put this on the quarterback. If the offensive line -- and I don't want to come and attack them -- if they can't hold up long enough for the quarterback to take three steps and get the ball out, we aren't going to have a chance."

Raiders left tackle Barry Sims thought long and hard when asked what he thought about a change. He said Collins had been the victim of a strong pass rush the previous two games and was not the lone reason the Raiders had lost.

"You just go along with the program," Sims said. "I don't think Kerry's played in a way that suggests he should be replaced, but at the same time, Tui's been here a long time and hardly played at all. It would be to interesting to see how he handles himself."

With the Raiders having 25 percent of their season left to play, they are safely beyond the point where Tuiasosopo can void his contract. Tuiasosopo's contract had a void clause if he played 30 percent of the snaps this season. His contract next season is for $477,000.

Collins' 2006 contract has a salary-cap value of a little more than $12.8 million, with only a $1,053,000 in acceleration -- meaning the Raiders would save approximate $11.8 million if he were released.

NOTES, QUOTES

--LaMont Jordan didn't attempt to hide his culpability in the Raiders' embarrassing loss to San Diego, citing a first-half fumble and poor pass blocking as primary reasons for the 34-10 defeat.

Jordan fumbled on a perfect hit by San Diego's Clinton Hart, who drove his helmet directly into the ball and popped it free, giving the Chargers a short field. San Diego promptly drove 34 yards for a touchdown and a 10-3 lead.

"It was a terrible feeling, like dropping an infant," Jordan said. "Once that happened, that was it. Those guys (San Diego) just went for it. It all started with the fumble. We had the momentum."

As San Diego took control in the second half, the Chargers rushed quarterback Kerry Collins hard, and Jordan had a difficult time in protection, with San Diego rookie linebacker Shawne Merriman in particular getting the better of him.

"Norv talked about it, you've got to win your individual battles," Jordan said. "Tonight, I was definitely defeated."

--Quarterback Kerry Collins struggled in the second half but did not duck responsibility for the 70-yard interception return by Hart that put the game away in the second half.

"It was a misread on my part," Collins said. "I thought we were hot. I tried to throw the ball quick, but I was wrong."

Tight end Courtney Anderson had run out of the pattern and was just starting to look back at the time Hart intercepted the pass.

--The Raiders fell to 2-15 in the AFC West since the 2002 season, in part due to the two turnovers forced by Hart.

--The Raiders, on pace entering the game to set NFL records for penalties and yards penalized, did not have a single penalty. Fabian Washington was flagged for illegal contact, but the Chargers declined because Keenan McCardell caught a 27-yard pass on the play.

"Not a single one. I can't believe it," wide receiver Jerry Porter said. "I remember looking at the scoreboard at halftime and seeing that. Then I looked away because I didn't want to jinx it."

--Free safety Stuart Schweigert sounded as if he were mad as hell and not going to take this anymore.

"(The Chargers) hate us and want to embarrass us, and they did," Schweigert said. "They embarrassed us on national TV. It hurts your pride. Everyone is watching that game, and they were laughing at us."

--Sebastian Janikowski's missed 61-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half was Oakland's longest attempt since Chris Bahr missed from 63 yards in 1986.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--SS Jarrod Cooper suffered a calf injury the club worried was a tear, but coach Norv Turner said Monday that wasn't the case. The Raiders hope Cooper will be able to face the New York Jets on Sunday.

--DT Ted Washington did not finish the Chargers game with thigh and quadriceps injuries, and his status will not be known until the end of the week. The Raiders hope to have DT Ed Jasper (back) back in the lineup, to go along with DE/DT Tommy Kelly, DT Terdell Sands and recent practice-squad call-up DT Anttaj Hawthorne.

--OL Jake Grove, who started at left guard against San Diego, was hit by Jamal Williams on Clinton Hart's 70-yard interception return and suffered a stinger. He had an MRI Monday, but said he expects to practice Wednesday and play against the Jets. Grove called the blindside blow "a cheap shot."

REPORT CARD VS. CHARGERS

PASSING OFFENSE: C-minus -- For a half, not bad. Kerry Collins was 13-for-20 for 151 yards and a touchdown before halftime and 9-for-20 for 85 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown in the second half. The Raiders obligingly took the short completions offered by the Chargers secondary. The pass blocking was spotty as the game got out of hand, with LaMont Jordan having difficulty in that area.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D-plus -- The Raiders looked decent right up to the point where Jordan was hit by Clinton Hart and fumbled. Jordan had 44 yards on eight carries through that carry, and 11 yards on seven attempts thereafter. Zack Crockett got his first carry in three games -- he gained 24 yards as the clock ran out. The Chargers took control of time of possession in the third quarter and had a big lead in the fourth quarter, rendering the running game useless.

PASS DEFENSE: C-minus -- There were some holes, to be sure, but give San Diego quarterback Drew Brees some credit. He made some plays with his feet and arm. He put several key third-down passes in tight areas where coverage wasn't bad.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- The Chargers worked for every yard they got, needing 38 carries to gain 126 yards. The Raiders kept longtime nemesis LaDainian Tomlinson (25 carries, 86 yards) under control, actually having more trouble with backup Michael Turner (seven carries, 34 yards, one touchdown).

SPECIAL TEAMS: D -- Another tough outing for Shane Lechler, who averaged 37.5 yards per punt and ran with the ball after a strong rush when he could have kicked it. Sebastian Janikowski had no touchbacks. The Chargers' average drive start following kickoffs was the 38-yard line, with Oakland opening at the 30.

COACHING: C-plus -- Oakland matched San Diego in terms of intensity to open the game, ran an effective, efficient offense and loaded up to stop the Chargers running game. But the Raiders didn't adjust defensively as the Chargers took advantage of soft coverage for consistent, short gains. The loss was due more to superior Chargers talent and an injury-wracked Raiders roster than because of a poor game plan.


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