“Josh has got to get better, that’s no secret, or he won’t be our starting quarterback for long, especially at this pace,” Kiffin said Monday, a day after Oakland lost to Denver in overtime, 23-20, to drop to 0-2 on the season. “He has to be more accurate. Even after everything that went wrong, at the end of regular Jerry Porter runs by Dre Bly by about five, six yards. It’s not a very hard completion to make. Those are plays that, if you’re going to be really good on offense, and if you’re going to be really good at quarterback, you gotta make those plays.”
Kiffin was referring to the Raiders’ final series in the fourth quarter when McCown overthrow an open Porter who had streaked past Denver’s secondary into the open. On the very next play, Oakland went back to the same play but McCown’s pass was underthrown and Bly intercepted it to help send the game into overtime.
McCown, who missed much of last week’s practice while nursing a broken index finger on his right (throwing) hand and a sprained right foot, completed just 8 of 16 pass attempts for a mere 73 yards, 46 of which came on one throw, a touchdown to Porter.
Despite growing public sentiment that the Raiders should bench McCown in favor of Daunte Culpepper, Kiffin insists McCown will remain Oakland’s starting QB for the time being.
“I feel right now that there’s so much that goes into the game besides just numbers,” Kiffin said. “There’s checks (McCown is) making on 3rd down. There’s 3rd-and-9 where he audibles to a run vs. a certain blitz that he has about 5 seconds on the play clock to get done, and we make 10 yards and make the first down. There’s a bunch of little thing hidden in there. Or a time somebody comes in free and he moves out of the way or throws one to Zach (Miller) for about 5 yards that could have been a loss of 8. Right now I feel he puts us in a better position to win.
"Will that be the case next Monday? I don’t know.”
Kiffin said the blame for the poor passing performance doesn’t fall entirely on McCown’s shoulders, either.
“Our passing game was basically embarrassing,” Kiffin said. “That falls on all of us, from up front to the receivers to the backs to the quarterback to the coaches, all of us. It’s obviously something we need to improve on.”
Culpepper was actually scheduled to start against Denver after McCown’s injuries prevented him from taking part in all the team’s practices last week. But when McCown showed up for pre-game warmups, he did enough to convince the coaching staff to play.
Barring any other setback, McCown will start for the Raiders next Sunday when Oakland hosts Cleveland while seeking to snap its 10-game losing streak. Still, Kiffin acknowledged Culpepper could be in the starting lineup soon as he continues to catch up with the rest of the offense.
“I’m very close to that. I feel very comfortable with Daunte. I just feel Josh puts us in a better position to win right now,” Kiffin said. “When the time comes that Daunte plays, I’m going to be excited for us because he brings us something different. Does he have the offense down as much as Josh? No, he doesn’t, but can he do some other things better than Josh? Yeah, he can. When the time comes that Daunte plays, I’ll be the first one cheering him in there.”