Outlook not good in Oakland

Senior Writer
Posted Nov 3, 2008


A day later the video tape did nothing to change what Tom Cable already knew. The Raiders were a complete disaster in just about every phase against Atlanta on Sunday and Oakland’s interim head coach admitted it could be a sign things are falling apart.

“That was a real step towards it,” Cable said Monday, less than 24 hours after the Raiders were shut out at home by the Falcons, 24-0. “But the good news is the sun came up today and we all got up and we’re here and we’re working on it. And we just keep pressing.”

The Raiders spent Monday reviewing film from Sunday’s loss and trying to come up with answers for what was the franchise’s worst game in decades.

Oakland set a club record for fewest yards in the Al Davis era, gained only three first downs compared to 30 for Atlanta, had the ball for barely more than 15 minutes and was booed heavily and repeatedly throughout the game by the hometown crowd.

It was so bad that fans mockingly cheered when the Raiders gained their first first down -- midway through the third quarter -- and chanted for backup quarterback Andrew Walter to replace second-year starter JaMarcus Russell.

The Falcons dominated on both sides of the ball at the line of scrimmage. Oakland’s offense never got anything going whatsoever and the defense gave up three touchdowns and a field goal on Atlanta’s first four possessions to dig the team into a huge hole.

Now the question facing Cable isn’t how he’ll pull the Raiders out of this mess but how he’ll be able to keep them from letting it get worse. Two weeks after Oakland gutted out an overtime win over the Jets, the team showed absolutely no life against the Falcons and are only 1-3 since owner Al Davis fired head coach Lane Kiffin.

“I don't know so much about what's missing,” Cable said. “It's just an issue of accountability, you've got to do what you're asked to do, you've got to do it the best you can. I think that when there's lulls in that, you never know which play is going to be the one, you never know which one is going to set the other team off or set your team off emotionally. I think, really, it goes back to that mental thing, having that belief, and that faith that I'm going to be the guy on this play that makes the play that turns the game around in our favor, and I just think that's all part of that mental approach we're working on.”

The win over the Jets seemed to be an indication the Raiders had turned the corner, considering how they had to grind it out. But in losing to Baltimore and Atlanta in successive weeks and playing poorly in both games, Cable says the team still can’t shake out of the losing mode that has enveloped the franchise for the past several seasons. It’s the same thing Kiffin said before he was fired and something he worked hard to change.

“I think we're definitely a product of that mindset,” Cable said. “I think when you've lost as much as many of the guys on this football team have, not just now but for a couple years now, you can become a product of that. You can start to worry about what if I don't do this? Or what if this happens? Instead of, 'I'm gonna make this happen.' We're working as hard as we can on that mindset right now. Because I really think that is something that is in us, and something that we gotta get out. I've gotta get it out of them.”

A big problem offensively for Oakland has been the play of the offensive line. Russell has had little time to throw and has spent more time trying to run from pressure than he has in the pocket. It didn’t help that against the Falcons the quarterback had easily his worst game since a three-interception performance against Jacksonville last week.

But Cable, the offensive line coach before being promoted to replace Kiffin, insists the line hasn’t suffered since he’s had to get more involved with the rest of the team.

“The only time I’m not with them -- I do a little more game planning in terms of the big picture -- is when I’m with (the media),” Cable says. “That’s really the only time I’m not around them, so I don’t think that’s enough time that it should matter.”

Cable was quick to point out, however, that Oakland’s problems moving the ball start with the blocking up front.

Defensively, the Raiders continued to struggle against the run. Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly grabbed a copy of the stats from the Atlanta game while in the locker room afterward, muttered to himself, then called it an embarrassment.

Under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan the Raiders have failed to finish better than 22nd against the run and they’re headed in the same direction again. After allowing Atlanta to pile up 252 yards on the ground Oakland’s run defense dropped to 30th in the NFL rankings.

“I don't think we've tackled particularly well the last couple of weeks,” Cable said. “I think you'd start there. In terms of fitting runs, we've been kind of hit and miss there. And we have to get better play at the end spots. Certainly losing a guy like Derrick has affected us some, but at the same time you always say as a coach that whoever steps in has got to perform at a level that allows you to succeed. We just have not gotten to that point yet. But first and foremost tackling, without questioning.”

In other news:

· The Raiders are still awaiting test results on the left shoulder of rookie safety/kick returner Tyvon Branch. Branch was injured in the first quarter after slipping and falling on a kickoff return. He was helped off the field and did not play after that.

· Linebacker Robert Thomas, who left Sunday’s game with a strained hamstring, is listed as day-to-day.

· Defensive end Derrick Burgess, who sat out his fourth straight game with a triceps strain, will continue to be handled cautiously because the Raiders fear he could suffer a setback if he’s rushed.



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