Cable pleased with Raiders finish

Less than 24 hours after the Raiders closed out the 2008 season with an impressive win over Tampa Bay, interim head coach Tom Cable had yet to meet with owner Al Davis to discuss his future with the team. But Cable was still feeling pretty good about things and likes the direction the franchise is headed, as he emphasized in his weekly Monday press conference.

Question: How surprised were you by the game Michael Bush had?

Cable: I wasn't surprised how successful he was. I mentioned to Tom Rathman right when it happened, his first two runs were as violent as I've seen in a long time and I thought, ‘We're OK, we're OK. Let's just ride him and we'll be fine.' He did a great job, so to say I'm surprised, no because he's a very talented guy. What that means for us is we have three outstanding runners. There's only one football so you sort all that out as you go and you try to continue to get as many of your playmakers on the field at one time as you can. But that certainly gives us another weapon.

Question: Do you still think he should be a fullback?

Cable: You have to understand our situation. We didn't have any fullbacks. Our top two guys were hurt and they were out for the season. Under those circumstances I do think that that was his role this year for this football team. What the future holds for him, we'll see. Those guys come back healthy and all that then we'll find out but it's nice to have a guy that can do both and certainly he's proven he can do both. Question: Have you talked to Al Davis since getting back?

Cable: No we have not.

Question: It was different for him to not be with the team on a road trip, so what communication did you have with him?

Cable: We talked a couple of times. He wasn't there but he was there. We had talked, certainly, about what we were going to do with the roster moves or anything like that that went on. We talked about the game plan, what our plan was and how we were going to do it as a coaching staff, which we do every week so it's nothing new there. Then we went out and said what we were going to do. I know he supported it and it was good.

Question: Do you expect to have a meeting with Mr. Davis this week?

Cable: At some point, yeah.

Question: You won the last two games and three of the last six. Do you think you did enough to prove to management that you should be the head coach?

Cable: I'm not going to talk about that today, and here's why. I want to talk about our football team. I want to talk about what we just accomplished. We went 3-3 over our last six games. We had a tough stretch there right when I took over. Three out of the first four weeks were very brutal in my opinion in terms of trying to change the mindset and all of those things. As it turned out, I've got to thank the players. I've got to thank the coaches. They really bought in. They really stuck together. And we got it done the way we needed to. I'm like everybody else in this league. I love coaching in the National Football League. My contract will be up just like all the rest of the assistant coaches here in a short time. We'll see what the future holds. And that's really all I want to talk about in terms of the job.

Question: What did you hear from the players? Did they come up to you after the game or today and say, "I hope you get this job"?

Cable: Sure they did. But again, let's talk about the game and what we did the last couple weeks. Let's talk about what we did the last six weeks because it's pretty cool. You talk about coaching ball and playing ball. We did it right as a team. We had a lot of guys go down with injuries, but guys kept stepping up. Look at the job those two young receivers did. Look at JaMarcus Russell's development in the last six weeks, other than the San Diego game. You should write something like how far the guy came, how much of a leader he's becoming. One of the things that was a real, real joy for me yesterday was to hear the offensive line on the sideline talk to me about his leadership in the huddle. When we got down by 10, the first thing he did back out in the huddle was say, 'Hey, we got this. Everybody just chill out. We got it.' And we got down and got the big PI (pass interference) and, next play, boom, we throws a great ball to Johnnie for the touchdown. And it's off and running, Michael hits the long run, and we took care of it in the end. It was a lot of fun. If you really watch the huddle...if you saw JaMarcus crowding those guys ... we ran it eight straight times, just grinding on them - that's a real sign of where that young guy's coming and how far he's come. He's throwing a nice completion percentage. We're going up from being 4.2 per (attempt) to up over 7 now. There's so many great things that happened to that young man this year. Those are the things we should be talking about - how the team came together, how they stuck together. The injuries came, it didn't matter. Some one stepped in. Michael Bush is a perfect example. But Chaz Schilens, you look at him. Look at what Trevor Scott and Jay Richardson did yesterday; Kalimba's down, boom, they go in and played. We asked Jay to mirror that QB a bunch, he did a great job of keeping Garcia in there. He got out a couple times on us, but he didn't get out 10 times like he did on everybody else. Special teams - we really scripted this one out and told them how it was going to be. They're going for the playoffs. 'You're going to learn from this because it's going to happen to you next year. Take it all in. The first 10 minutes of the game are going to be as violent and as intense as it can be. You've got to handle that. Let's not let anything bad happen to us. Let's manage it.' And our special teams stayed in there and kept winning field position. And all of a sudden on offense we get a drive and we score. They answered it, but after that we really got after that football game. When we really needed to be good, down 10, we were at our best.

Question: Do you think it was any coincidence that JaMarcus played better down the stretch once you took over the play-calling, or was it just his development?

Cable: I think it's his development. I mentioned this a long time ago. He's a wonderful Talent who's got to realize what the responsibilities are of being a starting QB in the National Football League. That means you work more, you work harder than any one else. You've got to prepare like a coach. You've got to think like a coach. Our Wednesday meetings, that's what they were about. Every Wednesday, it was giving him a plan for the week. This is what we want to get done this week. This is what I'm thinking. Get some feedback from him. On Saturdays he would always give me the things he really felt good about throwing. That's really how we started The game and how we attacked people. It was a combination of getting him more committed and more into it, and accepting his role and responsibility, and then listening to him because I think that's part of coaching. You can have all the great plans you want, but at the end of the day you've got to get that input from your players.

Question: You finally scored in the two-minute drill yesterday. What was the difference?

Cable: Well, we were in a unique situation because of the time, and we still had the two timeouts. So it was good for us, we could manage it. And if you noticed, we really didn't go into two-minute mode. We wanted to see. And this is typically what I believe, is if you're behind your 50, on your side of the 50, then see if you can get across, with enough time and a timeout, to then get into two-minute and go. So many things happen. There's a great stat. You start in two-minute, inside your 30 or backed up further, and you got a couple timeouts, you got two-minutes to go and all that, and you get back there and start dropping back and throwing, and these pass rushers are so good in this league that something bad happens, you end up punting the ball to them, and they get the ball on their 40, one shot, they kick a field goal. They get the points at the end of the half. So I'm always leery of that. And that's what we tried to do yesterday. We hit a couple plays and boom, it worked.

Question: Are you confident going into next season with Mario Henderson as the starting left tackle?

Cable: I think you have to say yes. Does he have to get better and are there some things he has to get better at? For sure. But the proof is when you go out there and do it. He did it last three weeks - no penalties, half a sack. Just outstanding work by him. Outstanding work by him.

Question: Is this team set up to make a playoff run next year?

Cable: I think it is. I think like any team, though, there some evaluation that needs to be done. You need to evaluate the staff, and obviously Mr. Davis will do that. You need to evaluate the team in terms of what its needs are in the future. But I think mentally where they're at, I think their understanding of what it takes in terms of being a teammate and how you play the game together, I do think that's in place. I'm quite sure of it. And the future, we'll see.

Question: Did it take some time for this team to recover from the Lane Kiffin-Al Davis feud?

Cable: I think the best way to answer that is yes, it took some time - longer than I wanted it to, obviously. But what took the most time - I mentioned this last week - I thought the mindset and the culture of negativity and everything that's gone on here the last few years, I thought I could come in and just grab it and beat it up and take it out, you know? And it didn't work like that. And that's really the only thing that I regret, is just how long it took to get their mindset changed. And once that happened, though, the product was good. To me, the only real thing I regret is the Kansas City game. Other than that, I think it went the way I hoped it would. Obviously you'd like to win more.

Question: Could you imagine returning as something other than head coach next year?

Cable: It's not in my control. I know something good's about to happen. That's the only way I look at it. I'm a line coach by trade. I'm good with that. You know? I love coaching those guys. I can call plays, I'm pretty good at that. And I can run a football team, and I proved that. I don't worry about all that. I just know I'm getting the players through here today with their exit physicals, and we're getting the film put away from the last game and doing those things. And then we'll take some time here and get some rest, cause we're all very fatigued.

Question: The team had two of its best games after you went back to coaching the offensive line. Would you do both next year if you're retained as head coach?

Cable: I don't know about that. That's my passion, and those guys know it, and we just went back to work, not that we weren't working before, obviously. Good things happen if you work hard and do it right.

Question: If you came back would you want to be the play-caller as well?

Cable: I don't want to get in to any of that. I apologize for that. That's not the issue. The issue is the players, enjoying what we've been able to accomplish, the last two weeks, particularly.

Question: But you have to be encouraged by possibility of sticking around, right?

Cable: I am, but again, I don't control that. And no matter what I say, and whatever that is, it doesn't matter right now. I'll steal a JaMarcus Russell line, if it goes good, the quarterback and the head coach get all the credit, if it goes bad, the quarterback and the head coach get trashed, so it is what it is, we played good at the end, I think we got 'em turned around the right way as a team, and whatever the future holds, I'll be OK with.

Question: What's your relationship with Al Davis like?

Cable: Really, the whole journey with him has been very good. It's been great in terms of communication. I have not backed away from that or shied away from it. I felt like that was the most important thing to do was communicate with him. He's been great in that sense. We've had agreements, we've had disagreements, we've had everything in between. Which I think is normal, I think that's the way it should be to try and get something the way you want it to be. So I've enjoyed all of that, I really have.

Question: Has the culture been changed, or is there more work to do?

Cable: There's always work to do. Is it headed in the right direction, yes. But there's always work to do.

Question: What would it be like if Shane Lechler left as a free agent?

Cable: Certainly, to lose anybody that impacts a game like he does on a consistent basis is a huge blow. But when free agency starts, we'll certainly get into all that, and find out what his intentions are, what his wishes are, and we'll deal with it at that time. It would be a tremendous blow, like I say, anyone that impacts a game as much as he does consistently is a huge blow. So we'll try to do everything we can and make sure he's a Raiders.

Question: Did any assistants get contacted in last week or so?

Cable: I don't even think that process has started yet so I would have no comment on that. I don't know.

Question: Will you take part in player evaluation?

Cable: We're all under contract until January 13. We all have a job to do and part of the end of the season is to evaluate your team player by player and coach by coach and all of that stuff. We'll just stay the course. We'll do what we're supposed to do and see what happens.

Question: What hurdles does this team face?

Cable: You have to stick with where you are at right now, mentally and emotionally. Don't let the people who want to doubt and the negative and all of that stuff, don't let it come back. If I had to tell them one thing, don't let it come back. Stay where you're at, grow from there, get better from there and this team will be in the playoffs. I believe that. I can sit here and say that but don't let the negative stuff come back. Every great franchise has gone through hard times. You look at what the Celtics went through, I'm a huge Celtics fan. Now all of a sudden they're the best that the game has got. You go through it, it's part of it. Hopefully this is just a step in the right direction to come out of it and get back to being a champion.

Question: What are you most proud of?

Cable: I'm most proud of what we did. I broke the thing down. I really haven't talked to you all about it. But I broke it down. The New Orleans it was like all this stuff happened and then we have to go all the way out there and we play in the first half OK. But you could really feel that it's not right and the second half we get it handed to us. Then we come home and beat the Jets. That was supposed to happen. We hung in there, hung in there, made enough plays and make this incredible field goal and we win the game and everything thinks everything is roses but it's not. The next two weeks it showed where we were at character wise. We go to Baltimore and we get it handed to us. We come home, I think it's Atlanta then, and we embarrass ourselves. That's the only way to put it. From that point on is when we really started to get it. We started to accept the fact that it's got to change. If we stay the way we're going it will be hard to ever win a game. I thought from that point on we really got better and better. I think it started with the Carolina game. It was a close game. We couldn't do much offensively. If we had we might have won the game but we didn't. But I thought we stayed in it and kept fighting, kept fighting, kept fighting. The only disappointment really is the second half with Kansas City and then the rear kicking we took at San Diego because we did. But other than that, before that and obviously after that, I thought we battled. I thought we had the right mindset. I thought we played for each other. I thought we coached for each other. I thought we coached for the right reasons. I'm proud of that. I'm proud of how these last two weeks went. It doesn't make your year. It doesn't. But what it does do is it cleans a lot of that BS out of their brains and gets them focused on the right path. I'm proud of that.

Question: How do you rate your performance?

Cable: Someone else will decide that. I know I did my best and I have nothing I'm ashamed of or worried about or anything like that. I put it out there. That's what I do every day. It will speak for itself whatever that is.

OK? Thank you all.

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