Tom Cable spoke to the media from the scouting combine on Sunday, addressing several topics on the Oakland Raiders upcoming season. Reporters at the combine started the conversation off on the right foot, swinging straight for the jugular topic: JaMarcus Russell and the Raiders QB situation.
“JaMarcus is working and doing things he should be doing right now. And he’ll get himself prepared to compete for the job; that’s the only way to look at it,” the Raiders head coach said.
Cable continued on to imply that right now JaMarcus Russell is the only person who should be concerned about JaMarcus Russell, “It’s really not about him giving assurances. It’s simple: He has a job to do like everybody else. Do your job and do it in a matter that helps this team succeed. We have talked a couple of times. I know he’s working and I’m anxious for the offseason program to get started so we can see him all the time.”
It is this writer’s opinion that Cable is getting irritated with all the questions surrounding the first draft pick from 2007. What I interpret he is saying, in the simplest of politically correct ways, is that it’s time for Russell to be a big boy now.
Cable addressed several other issues with the team as well, and even went so far to say that we should not discount last year’s first round pick, Darrius Heyward-Bey: “I think the amount of pressure that was put on that kid from all angles, the scrutiny came the day he was picked, probably unfair but, hey, this is the NFL and that’s what it is. But with his work ethic and his character, he’s going to be what he’s supposed to be. You’ll be excited to write about him soon.”
It’s quite a bold presumption to say that “He’s going to be what he is supposed to be.” If you talked to Mel Kiper or Cris Carter, I’m sure they would tell you that he already is what he is supposed to be: a fast wide receiver that couldn’t catch a cold at the hospital. However, I somehow don’t think that is what the Cable guy meant when he said that. You can form your own opinion on that one.
Cable really opened up on the impact Richard Seymour had on the football team, and he made some darn good points while he was doing it. He said that Seymour was a great locker room presence and he was good enough in run defense that teams would avoid running to his side of the line of scrimmage. He said Seymour was all he was cracked up to be and he was a model student of the game.
Was he worthy of a first-round pick?
“If you can get that out of a first-round pick, you’ve done pretty well,” Cable said.
He also said that he hopes Seymour will be more than a two-year Raiders player: “We’ll continue to work on all that. And I think Richard wants to be there and get his family settled.”
The reporters got him to beat around the bush a little bit more on the status of outcast receiver Javon Walker, but Cable failed to give us much more information on the topic than we already knew, saying, “Will he be there next year? We’ll see.”
He said that he believes competition is a key to getting to that playoff-caliber level, so he wants open competition in all positions. He thinks that that inner competition will lead to players pushing each other to be better and bring the best out of his football team.
I cannot argue with him; it makes perfect sense. Nobody should have their jobs handed to them, they should have to earn it year in and year out and work hard to keep it from the guy behind them during the season.
Determinations, drive, dedication, and “A commitment to Excellence,” are the types of things that will get this team places. Complacency has been like a 400-pound tumor on the face of this team over the time period when they were the worst team in the league. Hopefully that time is coming to an end as the Cable era enters its second full year and we enter this new decade.
With regards to the trade rumors swirling about the Raiders “key players” being on the trading block, the coach had this to say: “We get a ton of calls about a lot of players on our football team all the time. In fact, before I came in here I was on the phone about something. To me, that stuff happens in the NFL, it’s going to happen all the time. So people call you and you listen and see if anything interests you or doesn’t interest you. Sometimes it’s crazier than you think what they’re talking about. So you just take the call and you listen.”
What this means to me is that Adam Schefter has a big mouth and really has no clue about what is going on. I mean, Cable pretty much called the idea of trading a guy who is arguably their best player “crazy.”
Cable went on to say that the biggest, fastest, and strongest player is not always the best player, “We need to get better in some areas, so you got to look at this thing and find who you think the best players are, rather than they jump the highest or run the fastest. It shouldn’t make a damn difference. He has to be able to play football good enough for you to become a championship team. At the end of the day, that’s what really counts.”
He continued on to say, “For me, get the best players targeted and go back and sit down as a group, collectively put that together, and start your process.”
Cable hit around the idea of Mike Iupati, the Idaho guard, being a good draft choice. “Absolutely…first of all, he’s an Idaho Vandal, so I’m biased. He’s a terrific player. I think his future will be very bright. He’s going to have to transition from that level to the NFL. But he showed he has the ability to do that at the Senior Bowl. I’m very proud of him. I’m pulling for him to succeed, big time.”
The coach said he feels like the “weeding out” process of players who are not a fit is very close to complete on his roster. “We kind of go to work for a common theme now, which is to succeed. And I don’t think you can do that if you have a bunch of knuckleheads. I feel good about our team. What I want to do is improve our team.”
Personally, I think there is still some dead weight on the team, like aforementioned outcast wide receiver Javon Walker. I think there are more players too, but in the interest of professionalism, I won’t mention any names.
Cable firmly believes in the play of his safeties last season. All year long he went on and on about how the safeties played fantastic football during the season. On Sunday, his story was not any different. He praised both Michael Huff, the fourth-year player from Texas, and Mike Mitchell, the second-round pick from ’09.
In regards to Mitchell, he said, “If people watch Mike play the last six weeks, they’d say, ‘That’s why they took him.’ He was sensational. He impacted the last six games as much as anybody on our defense in a number of ways because he can play in all your packages.”
With regards to Huff, “I’ve always felt Michael was on the cusp of his breakthrough. He had it this year. Lionel Washington and those guys on defense really got him ready to go, and I thought he was outstanding the whole year from the first game all the way through the last one. It was definitely a breakthrough for Michael, and hopefully that’s just the sign of where he’s at as a player now and we can get a lot of big play from him.”
When speaking of Mitchell, Cable is mostly referring to his work as a nickel cornerback last year, although he did fill in at safety to give guys breathers or during minor injuries. This is interesting, because many fans think that the Raiders are short on cornerbacks right now. Not many people believe in the abilities of Chris Johnson as a starter, nor do they have faith in Stanford Routt as a third CB.
Throwing Mike Mitchell into that mix becomes a point of interest on this team, because if he can develop from a hard-hitting safety into a shutdown corner, in the mold of teammate Nnamdi Asomugha coming out of Cal, then the Raiders could field a very intriguing secondary next year.
Most likely, it will take Mitchell more than a year to develop and NFL position change, but if he can show he has the knack for the position next season then the sky is the limit. The kid has great size and speed, similar to Asomugha.
To that point, Cable did also say that the secondary was a need going into the free agency/draft period this year. “For us right now probably working a little bit on the line of scrimmage and the secondary,” he said.
By line of scrimmage, does he men offensive or defensive line?
“I think both. You always have to look at it and see where you want to be in those two areas.”
He said Mario Henderson is a good tackle, and he hopes he can keep coming along like he has been over the past season and a half as the starter, “The way Mario Henderson played to close out 2008, we felt good pretty good about it. As long as we can continue to get him better and improve him, which he’s done, and we’ll make the right decisions that way.”
No matter what happens this off season, on Sunday, I think coach Cable made it clear that he still believes in the team and the system. In my opinion, he made Raider Nation feel good about 2010.
I’d like to say very big thank you to Jerry McDonald for giving a complete transcript from the Raiders head coach’s Sunday combine interview. To see the full transcript, click the link: http://www.ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders/2010/03/01/cable-at-the-combine/
More From Me @ www.fanhuddle.com/oaklandraiders