Game Notes, Comments & Quotes


Head Coach Lane Kiffin’s comments on JaMarcus Russell’s performance via Jerry McDonald from Inside Bay Area (the stuff in italics that’s not in quotes, are his lead-ins, which I had to put in cause they’re so perfect).

Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and John David Booty apparently never threw blindly to the other side of the field at USC.

“Naturally, his confidence wavered a little bit.  Extremely poor decision making, I haven’t been around decision making like that before as far as just throwing the ball up across the field, like he did a number of times,”  Kiffin said.  “I’m sure that didn’t help his confidence.  In your first time playing an extended amount of time like that, to not have success like that can’t help.” 

Any other problems catch your eye, coach? 

“There’s a list. Where do you start?,” Kiffin said. “Ball-handling in the running game. Footwork in the passing game.  Timing.  Accuracy.  You name it, it was out there on film yesterday.  He’s got a long ways to go.” 

Kiffin again made reference to not having Russell around for the preseason and how both the quarterback and the coaching staff are still learning about each other. 

“The fact that he’s playing, we’ll continue to learn information, we’ll continue to learn ways to help him in all the games so he can have success,” Kiffin said.  Having once likened Russell to a video game in his ability to deliver the ball, Kiffin thought Sunday was merely a painful part of the learning curve. 

“We can talk to him all the time about what not to do and see it in practice, but unfortunately it came out yesterday,” Kiffin said.  “He’s got to learn from those mistakes, that you can’t do that in this league.  You’re not going to get away with it.  We were really actually fortunate he didn’t throw five interceptions yesterday.” 

Russell, Kiffin said, was operating with about 65 percent of the plays Josh McCown works with and he will be gauged this week to see if that figure can be increased.  Russell will take all the reps in practice this week (he took most of them last week) and the plan is for him to play the entire game.

JaMarcus Russell’s comments about his performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars and his approach to his first NFL start: 

“It was OK for my first one,” Russell said. “This time I plan on doing a lot better. There’s a lot of things to learn from.” 

“Those weren’t jitters, I was just trying to make things happen,” Russell said.  “You’ve just got to learn from that decision I made then that you can’t always get away with it.  As for myself I try to make any and every throw because I feel like I’m confident and I can make that. 

“But just looking back on it, there’s time where I can just keep that down and get two or three yards and hold the ball for your team for the next drive or series.  Coach says that’s the best play in football, having the ball the next play.” 

The Raiders are stressing with Russell the importance of treating midweek breakdowns as if they were Sunday breakdowns. 

“We’ve really talked to him this week that the practice needs to be like the game,” Kiffin said. “You’re the starter now.  A guy’s going to come free or a guy’s going to miss an assignment somewhere and you can’t, just because it’s practice, sit there and just throw the ball.  You’ve got to treat it like a game.  We’ve got to get you moving around because you haven’t had all those reps the other starting quarterbacks have had over the course of years of playing and preseason and all of that, so we’re trying to make these reps just like the game as much as we can, making things happen bad in practice so he has to deal with them at as close to full speed as we can get.” 

Here’s what Warren Sapp had to say about last Sunday’s run-in with the officials:

“It was all just words,” Sapp said.  “I never put my hand on nobody, never bumped nobody, never did anything.”

“I was like, ‘You’re in the middle of my huddle with your hands on me.  Get out of the huddle.’  So, we’re talking and he’s like, ‘You’re out of here.’  So, I asked the ref, ‘Do I really got to leave?  Are you kidding me?  I really got to go somewhere for this?  “I haven’t done anything other than anything I’ve ever done in 13 years I’ve been in this league.  Are you kidding me?’  I didn’t put my hand on anybody.  I didn’t push nobody.  I didn’t shove nobody.  I didn’t do anything to anybody.  I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’

“So, Nnamdi asked him, ‘Why did you throw him out?’  ‘Well, he said something to me.’  That’s his words to Nnamdi out of his own mouth.  So, now it’s got to be something more than that because it makes no sense to nobody why the first dude that’s ever been thrown out an NFL game for non-physical contact.

“I felt cheated. I felt like I should have whipped somebody’s ass.  I should have beaten somebody up so at least they put you on SportsCenter for whipping some ass.  At least you get a little respect.”  “Come on, you know how this works,” Sapp said. “It’s all a P.R. shtick.  The big bad `99′ has done it now.  I have no recourse.  You saw (Nick) Barnett bumped (the ref in the Packers game).  He bumped him.  He physically bumped him.  They didn’t throw him out of the game, they didn’t bother him at all.  They didn’t do anything.  It’s only me.  It’s always been me.”

Paul McQuistan (Photo Credit: www.theraidercast.com)Dominic Rhodes ran well last Sunday (115 yards on 27 carries), but does this show that Rhodes is still a good asset, or does it mean what I suspected weeks ago, that any decent back can run through the holes that this great run-blocking offensive line is making.  I believe it’s the latter.  The Raiders o-line isn’t even as good as it could be.  Paul McQuistan has been filling in for Cornell Green (Injured Reserve), but neither man is the answer at right tackle.  Two of Russell’s sacks last Sunday were because of the mediocre play of McQuistan.  Left tackles usually make more money than any other linemen, so when you got a guy like Barry Sims who’ll play the position well enough to not lose the game, but will never warrant anything remotely close to top tier cash, then you have to hold onto him, because it leaves money to pay for the players that are of actual need.  Yes he needs help from time to time, but he’s worth holding onto.  Cooper Carlisle’s performance has been sufficient; he gets beat at times, but he rarely gets called for a penalty.  Jeremy Newberry has performed as well as I thought he would back in training camp, and though Robert Gallery will probably never be the franchise bookend that he was drafted to be, I think he found a good place for himself at left guard, and at some point, he’ll get his chance to play in Honolulu.

Drew last Sunday against the Raiders (Photo Credit: sports.yahoo.com)I gotta give props to the De La Salle high school grad Maurice (Jones)-Drew.  I watched him run all over the teams in the district of the high school I attended.  I was able to watch this little kid run over guys twice his size before any national headlines.  I still remember when Drew single handily dismantled perennial power Long Beach Poly.  If it weren’t for him, his school would’ve never been ranked #1 in the nation that year.  If you don’t know, this is who De La Salle is: 151 straight victories from 1992 to 2005, was named national champion seven times, with Amani Toomer, Drew,  D.J. Williams, and Demetrius Williams all graduating within that time. 

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