Ninety-two points in the last two games? Thirty-four points allowed in the last three? A two-game winning streak? Who are these Oakland Raiders?
Answer: They’re getting closer to who coach Tom Cable thought they should be. Or at least that’s his take on the whole thing in the following interview. The Raiders certainly don’t need to be vaulted to the status of the NFL’s best teams. Heck, they beat up on Denver and Seattle. But they do, suddenly, need to be considered playoff contenders. They play in the AFC West, a division that, despite Kansas City’s surprise, is still pretty much wide open. And it’ll be even more open if the Raiders can beat the Chiefs this weekend.
Tom Cable joined KTHK in Sacramento with Grant Napear to discuss the Raiders gaining respect, the difference now in the locker room, the turnaround in the last two weeks, why Bruce Gradkowski is still considered the starter, Darren McFadden’s breakout performances and the pride he feels in the 4-4 Raiders.
On gaining respect around the league:
“Well, I do think that we’re gaining respect with every time we go out. I think we have all year. We have played a much better brand of football this year than we have in the past. The real issue is we’re sitting here at 4-4. It’s disappointing, but at the same time, I think we’ve been playing hard, getting better. … We’re certainly earning people’s respect.”
On the different feeling in the locker room:
“I think we’re starting to believe. We’ve kind of figured out what it takes for us to succeed as a team. We know what we need to do Monday through Saturday and then we know what Sunday’s all about. We’re figuring it out and it’s a lot of fun right now. There’s a lot of energy right now, a lot of excitement with our football team. I know this, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to play in this game Sunday, but we have a lot of football games left.”
On turnaround the last two weeks since a debacle of a loss to San Francisco:
“I think the turnover started in January of 2009. That’s the way I’ve looked at it the whole time. I knew there was a lot of work to be done, I knew that you had to get the roster right, I knew that you had to get the right attitude in here. Some things had to change. … I don’t really look at it as what happened since the San Francisco game. The San Francisco game’s quite easy. We went down to the red zone four times and didn’t do a damn thing. We didn’t score a touchdown. We needed to score one, maybe two, to win the game and gave up two big plays on defense. … As we get closer and closer to being the kind of team we can be, it finally hit us all in the face that, look, this is what we have to do: You can’t let up, A, and B, when you get your opportunities, you’ve got to seize them.”
On Bruce Gradkowski still being considered the starter when he gets healthy:
“He is the starting quarterback of the Oakland Raiders, he just happens to be injured right now. … I think Jason [Campbell] has done some good things. I think he’s done what you expect your backup to do, to step in and carry the load. Jason will be the first to tell you that’s his role and that’s his job and I’m proud of him. I’m excited about what he’s been able to do and if he’s the quarterback again, I hope he’ll continue to do that.”
On Darren McFadden’s emergence:
“I think you hit in on the head, I think he is the player, and has been all year when he’s been on the field, that we thought we drafted. Not that he hasn’t been the last couple years, but he had some injury issues and there’s no way around that. … He’s been very productive this year. He’s been able to take it to another level.”
On how proud he is of his team:
“I’m completely as prideful as you can be in a group of men. These players and these coaches have stayed together and kind of new we were going to get there and knew we had a chance to get there and they stayed the course. That’s the thing I’m proud of. … Like I told them every week, I really thought at this point that we’d be 6-2 or 7-1. We’re not. We had a couple games get away from us that I really believed we could win and we didn’t. … We have a chance to continue to get better, continue to right the ship and get this thing turned around all the way.”