Answer Man

<b>JW: </b> Since you guys are out of it, I was hoping to ask about some of your needs for next year. <br><br><b>Answer Man: </b> Fine. We can get into that, but we're not completely out of it you know. This game coming up still has some meaning for us.

JW: Don't you think the Raiders have quit, though? I mean, what are their coach's comments going to do to them?

AM: Nothing that hasn't been done. They're fractured; they're splintered. It's not like they quit. They're still playing hard, professionally, but it's more than one comment. I mean, one you can understand, like Charles Woodson talking about the coach. But they keep coming. That's when you know the players are playing for themselves, their contracts, whatever. They're not playing for the coach.

JW: Do they look dumb?

AM: They make dumb penalties, yeah. Fourth-and-four and a guy over the center of a punt jumps offside. That's dumb. That happened last game and it resulted in a touchdown. Then they stop them on third down but make a late hit out of bounds, which resulted in a first down and then a touchdown. They're making dumb penalties, but are they dumb people? Probably not, but they're dumb mistakes.

When you win and play like that, you're a renegade. When you lose, you're dumb. Winning cures everything. Even Keyshawn looks good when you're winning.

JW: What do they look like these days?

AM: They're running Tyrone Wheatley and trying to pass off that. They don't have a quarterback now and the age on those receivers is starting to show a lot more than last year because last year they were running short routes and they could still get open. Now people have caught on to what they're doing so they're trying to disrupt their timing, which shows the lack of speed those guys have. But Jerry Porter's doing well.

JW: Has Porter become a starter?

AM: He hasn't but he should. That should happen next year. Him, Charlie Garner and Wheatley are their only playmakers.

JW: How does Rick Mirer look?

AM: He's a good backup who can come in and get you through a game or two. Long-range potential? No. He's not going to win anything for you. Last week he made some stupid throws. He's usually a take-what's-given guy. And if it's not there, he's athletic enough to run with it.

JW: Is there a chance he'll be looked back upon some day as a great find?

AM: No. When he first started playing he did well but I think his stats have gone down the more he starts. He didn't do jack last game.

JW: Do you pressure him?

AM: Yeah. Their offensive linemen are kind of like Arizona's. They're just big guys. Even though I'd take their left tackle and center -- Barry Sims and Barret Robbins are pretty good -- but those other guys are just big slobs.

JW: Can Jason Gildon beat one of those slobs?

AM: He's like Lincoln Kennedy. Here is the cliff, and here he is on the way down. It happens. In this sport more than any, when you go, you go fast - like the next day. It's a strange thing. The great ones have a gradual descent, like Rod Woodson. But unless you're a great one, the bottom falls out. That's what happened to him. He's through.

JW: Is Gildon killing you?

AM: He's not killing us. Chad Scott was killing us. We had eight plays that were called defensive breakdowns, and he had four of them. He made 50 percent of the major mistakes.

Look, I can give you a better rundown next week, and I can even throw some draft talk at you. Give me some breathing room. Can we get back to the Raiders?

JW: Promise you'll give me - how do you say - jack next week?

AM: You don't want me to promise that. Jack means squat. You don't want squat, do you?

JW: No. The last thing I want is squat. Tell me about the rest of the Raiders' offense then.

AM: They've got some athletic tight ends -- Teyo Johnson, Doug Jolley. O.J. Santiago is playing the best I've ever seen him play. That may be a match-up problem for us. We always seem to have a problem with the tight end.

JW: Why is that?

AM: I don't know if the guys just don't get it -- because a lot of times it's the linebackers not getting enough depth or being aware of the guys behind them -- or if it's the scheme. It may be a combination of the two. Obviously there are weaknesses in every defense, but it seems like that's the big weakness all the time in our defense.

JW: On defense, tell me about their line. Is Tyler Brayton a starter?

AM: Yes, and he's going to be good. He's not as strong as a Justin Smith but he's going to be that type of player - high motor, got some speed, a little bit of skills. Their D-Line, other than that, doesn't impress me.

JW: And their linebackers? Hey, I see Shurron Pierson's name here.

AM: They brought him back. He was on the practice squad because they have so many injuries at linebacker, and that's where they're weak. Eric Barton, I like him. He's playing at a very good level. Napoleon Harris isn't making the strides I thought he would make. He's still pretty good. He doesn't have it, instinctively, inside but he's still got enough speed to make up for false steps and false reads. Eric Johnson used to be a safety so he's always trying to run around you, stuff like that.

JW: What about Pierson? Were you guys looking at him last draft?

AM: We liked him, but when he got cut we didn't have any room for any more linebackers.

JW: Their secondary?

AM: Their corners are good. Woodson will gamble and give up some big plays. (Phillip) Buchanon lacks size. You want to get Plax (Burress) on him, but other than that he has everything you want. (Nnamdi) Asomugha is a corner playing free safety and he has some ball skills but he doesn't know the angles. Rod and (Derrick) Gibson are hurt so they use (Anthony) Dorsett. He's a stiff.

JW: How would you attack them?

AM: Run on their D-Line because their tackles are out, and then you try to attack their safeties and if you get the match-up with Plax on Buchanon, throw it up top. I doubt they'll do that though. They'll probably use Woodson to shadow Plax all over the field.

JW: So he's still the guy defenses have to worry about first?

AM: You've got to. I mean there's a 50-50 chance he's going to do it so you still have to respect him. He's like a home-run hitter. He's going to strike out a lot, but those times he's going to hit the home runs, you'll be like "that dumb coach." As inconsistent as he is, he's still a threat.

JW: So is Chad Pennington. Oops.

AM: That's a cheap shot. Remember, hindsight is 20-20. I just hope we don't make the same mistake next time.

JW: Whoa! Tell me more. Let's talk quarterbacks.

AM: Next week.

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