The Raiders’ 45-7 loss to the Saints on Saturday means nothing in the big picture. In a few short weeks, a large chunk of the players will be trying to find jobs in the UFL or elsewhere and few people will remember what happened in the game.
Head coach Tom Cable won’t forget, though. After watching film of the blowout at home, Cable said he saw a lot of the familiar problems that have plagued the Raiders in the past.
“We just reverted back to a lot of old habits in a couple of areas,” Cable said Sunday. “I’m more interested in finding out why we reverted back to what we’re not, or what we’re not trying to be. Really, we look like we have in the past – poor tackling, misaligned, missing some easy reads in terms of protection. Really some fundamental issues that have kind of been our issues in the past and felt like we were getting away from. It showed up again.”
The majority of problems came on defense, as the Raiders allowed New Orleans’ first and second offenses to move up and down the field at will. The Saints piled up 232 of their 536 yards on the ground, taking advantage of an Oakland team that looked every bit as bad as it was in 2008 when the run defense ranked 31st out of the 32 NFL teams.
Defensive end Greg Ellis made a veiled reference to some players staying out late before games, and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said it seemed like the Raiders were having issues lining up on defense.
Cable didn’t disagree.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” he said during a conference call with reporters. You guys have been to all our practices to see how fast we practice … and we don’t want to get into the lackadaisical approach again.
“The only good thing here is this didn’t count against us. There’s so much to learn from it and you have to make that a good thing. We were making some progress in a number of areas and then to really kind of revert back, I think everyone’s going to take notice of that. It’s a tough lesson. It’s ridiculous to have to go through it but we did. So now you have to approach it that way. Hey, this is what it is. There ain’t no getting around this.”
Cable said he doesn’t expect to make any radical changes, either to personnel or in the way he and his staff coach. Nor will he meet with any of the team’s veterans to shake things up.
“No, I think you have to stay the course,” Cable said. “The sky is not falling. It just looks really gray right now, and it’s supposed to after you get your tail kicked like that and you really play poorly. At some point you get tired of not doing things right, or coming away feeling like you do after that game.”
Other news and notes from Sunday:
-- Defensive end Greg Ellis made veiled references to players needing to take more responsibility and not stay out late the night before games. Cable said he didn’t know anything about that but was concerned something could happen once the team ended training camp.
“The one thing as a coach that you're always leery of is breaking camp because then they get home, you don't have the curfew, you don't have those kinds of things,” Cable said. “As grown men, we've got to handle our distractions and be able to take care of our bodies and stay focused on what we're trying to do."
-- Cable defended criticism leveled against defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, saying Kelly has played well in the last two preseason games.
“It would not be fair for anyone to question or de-value what he’s done the last two weeks,” Cable said. “Was it perfect? No. But they’ve really not been able to run at his side if you look at it.”
-- Middle linebacker Ricky Brown didn’t exactly get a ringing endorsement from his head coach. Brown, starting in place of injured Kirk Morrison, had a game-high 10 tackles but Cable said other issues arose.
“He did as well as he could in terms of getting the defense called and getting the front lined up,” Cable said. “There’s some good things in there but it showed up not having Kirk in there. Not that Ricky was bad, just in terms of communication.”
-- New Orleans sacked Oakland quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell three times on plays the Raiders should have handled much better.
“We missed three pretty basic types of blitzes that created problems for us,” Cable said. “We’ve got to continue to improve on (that). The pressures they brought were not surprises, not tough ones.”
-- The deadline to get down to the 75-player limit isn’t until Tuesday, though several teams got an early jump by clipping the trimmings from their roster Sunday. The Raiders will likely announce their cuts on Monday. Final cutdown to the 53-man roster limit is on Sept. 5.