Oakland Raiders starting left guard Frank Middleton is never at a loss for words. Middleton talks about the Raiders struggles, Barret Robbins' return to the starting lineup and their game Sunday against San Diego:
On having a sense of urgecy
"We've got a lot of disappointed people in the locker room who are sad about the way we played. … We took a whoopin' now, we've got to go back to the drawing board and try all over again."
On being angry
"I've been angry since two games ago. I guess it'll keep building until I explode or the offense explodes."
On getting back to smash-mouth football
"I don't know, man. I don't know when was the last time we played that kind of football except for the Kansas city game. If it rains hopefully we do get back to it. We've got two great receivers, a great quarterback and a great tailback that can catch the ball out of the backfield. I'm a soldier, man. If they say attack, I'll attack. If they tell me how to get there and what to do when I get there, I'll do it."
Is it realistic to change from a passing to a running approach?
"You can wake up and have a million dollars in your bank account. It's like, I'm from the ‘Show Me' state. If it's going to happen, then let it happen on Sunday. We can't talk about it all week and not do it on Sunday. I'll believe it when I see it. I don't see any change, man."
On the importance of beating San Diego
"You don't want to go four games and the only team you beat is Cincinnati. That can damper a lot of stuff for the rest of the year. … We struggled with Cincinnati. We can't look at our schedule and say we got this guy coming and that guy coming. Hell, Cincinnati almost beat us at home."
Is it harder to accept the team's performance since you have such high standards?
"It's not even about going to the super bowl. You have the No. 1 offense. You can pass on anybody for 500 yards or whatever. Now, you look up at halftime and there's 50 yards passing. That'll mess with you a little bit. It's like what are we doing in practice that's not showing up on Sunday."
How do you feel about Barret Robbins being back in the lineup?
"It's a good thing. The dude worked hard. They gave him a couple of goals to reach, to get his knee better,
lose a little weight and get focused and I think he's ready. But only time will tell."
Are you satisfied that he's earned the respect of his teammates?
"He's working on it. Sunday we're going to find out. Once he gets back into the line of fire and he starts handling
things and playing ball, you'll know if he's still BRob or not. Everybody's happy for him and just waiting to see how
it turns out."
Can a change in the lineup make a difference?
I won't say that's why we were struggling because he wasn't in there because Stinch played great.
So I want to say because of him coming in and Stinch leaving is going to make a change. No it wont
but I think our problems are deeper than moving a center, moving one guy in and one guy out. No, I
can't say he's going to make a big difference in that way because I believe Stinch had a good year."
Centers are also the quarterback of the line, does Barret have an inherent advantage in that way?
"Stinch been in there playing good ball. I don't know how many sacks he got beat on if any but he played good.
He made some good calls and picked up some hard blitzes while he was in there. I don't know what the big
difference will be between them. BRob's been there so you'd probably have a little more confidence. I think it's
more for the coaches and the quarterback probably having more confidence in BRob because he's been around
for a while. Hopefully that settles their nerves but it don't help the O line out that much."
Is the move like a wakeup call?
"If that's the case that's the wrong wake up call. I don't see it like that. Then you'd be picking on somebody that
it's not their fault. It's probably one of those things where they wanted to make a move and they felt BRob was
ready so he's ready and they're going to go."
Bill Callahan said he would retool the offense, is that reassuring?
"Change is going to come? You know, I say a lot of stuff I don't really change. It's one of them things where if
you do make the change and it helps us and we get a great offense going and it's a good thing then he made the
change. But if says it and doesn't change it, it's small words."
Have teams figured the Raiders out?
"I think they were on to us at the end of last year but we still played hard ball and kept playing. It's one of those
things where people do catch up with you. There's only so many formations that you can do plays off of. So
they're going to catch up and they tighten down on it but we just have to stay focused and keep going. … They
did a lot of stuff. One time they took my guy off of me and put him on Stinch and had Stinch covered, Mo
covered and Lincoln covered and ran games from it. We haven't practiced that and haven't seen it. Coach said
they ran it 2-3 years ago against a couple of teams but this was our first time seeing it so they did do stuff we
weren't ready for and we didn't practice. But you have to make changes in the game. The second half our O line
looked a little better because we figured out what they were doing but the first half we did get some new
formations and new fronts."
On Rich Gannon going off on reporters and everyone else
"Gannon's going off on everybody. You just watch out. He's on fire. Naw. I don't live with the guy, I don't sleep
with him. I just play football. He goes off on people sometimes. This is a pressure-packed game and the guy say
he plays with love so it could just be the love of the game coming out. I mean, you go from MVP to No. 15
offense in the AFC, that bothers you a little bit. So he's just working off a little frustrations I guess."
Does Robbins return make him more comfortable?
"I hope something makes him comfortable. I truly hope that BRob comes in and
Gannon gets his swagger back and settle down and get ready to play because to
be honest he hasn't played the same since BRob left the starting lineup at the start of the Super Bowl.
So hopefully those two guys get back together and our offense gets clicking again."