Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable met with reporters Tuesday morning at the NFL owner’s meetings in Dana Point. In a lenghtly interview, Cable covered many areas of the team's direction where he clearly shows he's in charge and he is the right choice to get this team back to its winning ways.
Here are some highlights of Cable's Q&A with the full transcript here.
On JaMarcus Russell:
Q: Your impressions on JaMarcus Russell at this point?
Cable: If he can accept the responsibility of being an NFL quarterback, I think that’s working more, working harder, working longer than everybody else, accepting the
responsibility that his teammates look to him as the face of the organization, that he has to go above and beyond almost on a daily basis, I think that comes with that position, whether that’s right or wrong, that’s what it is, if he can accept that and become that, he’ll be fine. He’ll be great, I think. Has he done that? I think during the last six weeks he started to, during the season. I think thus far in the offseason he’s been around more than ever. He was never around like this on his own, just watching tape, studying, so that’s a step in the right direction. I think he has to embrace that, though, for him to be what he should be.
Q: You have that conversation with him?Cable: We did. We started meeting on Wednesdays during the season and sometimes we’d talk a little football, sometimes we’d talk about things other than football.
Q: What kind of person is he? Does he want to be good?Cable: Oh yeah. He’s very driven. I think he’s a very passionate guy. He’s certainly very motivated to not be a failure, to not be the kid from Mobile that couldn’t get it done
Q: What does he need to work on to be better at the game itself?
Cable: His footwork. And then his brain. You’ve got to keep training that brain and get that brain to a point where it makes its decisions on time."
On the health of Javon Walker:
Cable: Well, I mean that’s the issue - we want to get him healthy.
So I think it’s imperative that Javon do what he needs to do to really get healthy so that he can have the kind of year that, I know, he wants and we need him to have.
Q: Have your doctors told you his is a fixable thing and he can be a fulltime receiver?
Cable: What’s wrong with him?
Q: He’s had knee issues in the past.Cable: This is the ankle. This had nothing to do with the knee. But the ankle, actually, was such a severe sprain it had to be pinned. But he’s through that. In fact, he’s back training.
Q: You’ve been so bullish saying the Raiders will win again, you almost sound like your boss. Why so optimistic?
Cable: I’ve said this a couple of times already. The first six weeks I was the interim (coach), we were awful. Everything that could be wrong or could go wrong, all of that did. I look back and I just think, how in the world did we ever even go out and get ready to play games?
And so becoming good and winning isn’t something you just wake up one day and like flip the switch and, Oh good, we’re good now. It’s a process you go through and I think we’ve really made some strides in that process. Love the attitude, love where they’re at. Love the core of this team. I do know what we’ve added and what we need to do in the draft. So I’m pretty confident and have great belief in those men that we’re pretty close."
Q: How do you change the mentality of the team, the losingest franchise since 2003?
Cable: If you just walk in and make the assumption that it’s all right, Hey, listen up, fellas, I’m the next head coach in line and let’s do this and let’s do that, forget it. No. First, let’s understand why the hell that happened, so we won’t go there again. I think that in order to change this, we better get real about why it’s going on and stop putting band-aids on it and let’s cut to the core and see what the real issue is. And then from there you know where you can go. But to put lip service to it and continually push it over in the corner, the monster keeps growing. So, deal with it.
Q: What is the monster?
Cable: Selfishness. It’s all about me and (not) the real fundamental concept of success of team sports. But I’m excited because I don’t feel like that about this football team anymore.
The Offensive Line:
Cable: Obviously now if you look at it I think it is improved, maybe substantially Adding Khalif Barnes gives us significant competition at tackle We have Samson Satele there to compete with John Wade, probably makes us overall better at the center position.. . . . two good guards, good players, veteran guys. I think that’s an area where we have certainly improved.
Q: Where is Robert Gallery in his career?Cable: I think he is where he should have been a couple of years ago, really. In 07 he really improved, but when you rebuild the brain really, with the confidence
and all that goes in playing the game, you have to break him all the way down, and he went through that process. In doing that, his penalties came up because he was focused on certain things. Then, this last year he seemed to put that behind him and was probably one of the least
penalized guys in football, then all of a sudden you start seeing him become more dominant, particularly the second half he was a very good football player. He can really become a guy who can get to the Pro Bowl, a guy who can lead the team as an offensive lineman.
On Al Davis:
Q: What’s it like working for Al Davis?
Cable: Awesome. Just awesome. I know all the stories, I’ve heard them. But I’ve been in there two years now, as an assistant and the interim head coach and head coach. The guy is amazing. He’s very set in his way. He is probably most responsible for the NFL being where it is. And he’s proud of that. I think that people take that confidence and that
belief in what he has that he has been able to accomplish and like to argue what that is. But to me it’s just been his wisdom and a partnership. What he told me when he hired me is We can only do it if we do it together…..I need for you to do this, this and this. What do you need from me? People say here’s this guy who dresses the same all the time and he is arrogant and this and that. That’s the perception, but that’s not who he really is. He’s a guy who loves his football team, is passionate about it. He’s a guy who has an unbelievable amount of knowledge. He’s a guy who if you allow . . . can teach you more than you ever thought possible.
Q: He is getting older…He was always a strong presence. Is he still a presence?
Cable: To me, when I need to talk about something or I need advice, he’s always there. So I don’t know that he is any less a presence now than ever before.
There is always optimism in the off season, but I truly believe that the Raiders as a whole, have a renewed commitment to excellence. With a young core of players and a strong draft this team will be in the playoffs for many years to come.