STEELERS VS. RAIDERSSUNDAY, NOVEMBER 21AT HEINZ FIELDCONFERENCE CALLS
RAIDERS COACH TOM CABLE
What are you seeing different from this Pittsburgh team than what you saw a year ago?
To me I think they have got their swagger back on defense and you always have issues with them in terms of pressure, just their style of play and all that. They are similar to last year but to me they are better than they were a year ago. Offensively I think they are throwing the ball as good as anybody and Mendenhall is a good runner so they are a better team than they were this time last year.
Are you still noticing that swagger on defense despite what happened on Sunday night against New England?
Yeah, I kind of live by the creed, one game doesn't define you whether you win or lose. If you look at the games prior to that, the full body of work, they are very good.
Re: Process of getting team to 5-4 after struggles and now competing:
I think you have hit it on the head. We have learned how to compete, we have learned how to handle adversity. We are excited about the success that we have had. Winning the last four of five, it has been good for our mentality and attitude. But like everything, you are never there unless you have become a playoff type team and that is what we are still trying to do and we are getting closer but we still have a lot of work to do.
Re: Decision on JaMarcus Russell:
You know you have to live with whatever you decide and as an organization we felt like we needed to move on and take this team to the next level. Unfortunately it didn't include him and we wish him well and we move forward.
Re: Jason Campbell:
I think he has brought some stability. I think he and Bruce (Gradkowski) both have settled us down at the quarterback position. Bruce has obviously had some injury issues and Jason started out as the starter and was replaced and then came back as the starter and has done a lot of good things. The best word to put to it is that he has just stabilized us there and we feel like we have a couple of guys that we can go to and can trust to get the job done.
Re: Bruce Gradkowski being from Pittsburgh:
We hadn't talked about that directly but the fact that he is from there and all of that, it is important to him. But Bruce is a Raider so however we can do this thing, whatever it takes to win I will do and he is a part of that.
Re: Success versus Pittsburgh in the fourth quarter:
I don't know about how it tends to be the case but I know for us it was a couple of guys, Louis Murphy, made a couple of plays, Bruce made a couple of throws and we were able to block them long enough to do that. If you look at the whole game, we really were playing from behind the whole game and just got some opportunities that we were able to take advantage of.
Re: Darren McFadden
I think Darren had taken his game to the next level by simply staying healthy. I think he has learned how to be a pro, I think he has learned how to take care of himself and that is all the natural maturation that young guys go through. He is playing how we expect him to play and I think the fact that he is healthy and able to go out every week now and contribute, we are getting to see him at his best.
How mindful are you of the Raider tradition and what would it mean to you to get the team back to the top?
It's what drives me every day. It's very dear to me to get this place back to respectability and back to being a team that everybody talks about like the Steelers, like the Patriots, like Baltimore, like the teams that have been good here for awhile. There was a time when you mentioned those teams and you would mention Oakland that way and it just hasn't been that way. It does drive me and it is very dear to me to be the guy that gets this thing turned around.
The AFC seems wide open. Do you view it that way?
I think so. Just look at the numbers here just past midway and the numbers speak for themselves. Our division is certainly up for grabs and you can say that probably about every AFC division. I just think the numbers kind of speak loud and clear about what it is going to be like and it is that old saying, whoever has the best second half usually has the best opportunity.
Any reason in your eyes why there is more parity this season?
I think it is everything in terms of free agency and the draft. Just a lot of good players around the league. If you had struggles and you had been able to draft early for a few years, you are going to be able to raise the level of talent of your team and I think that and if you get a good group of coaches together with a group of players that mesh, anything is possible. They are all pro payers and they are all talented guys. We have had the opportunity, unfortunately, to draft early for a number of years now and it has raised the level of talent on this team.
RAIDERS RUNNING BACK DARREN MCFADDEN
How is this Oakland team different and similar from last year's team?
I feel like one of the main things for us right now is that a lot of guys are playing with confidence. It's not one of those if you get behind you get down types of things with us. We have been playing with a lot of confidence and I think it has been one of the main things that is helping us out.
Re: Coming back last year in the fourth quarter and winning:
At that time we had a different quarterback, guys were playing with a different energy. Bruce (Gradkowski) made a lot of big plays for us, receivers stepped up and made some great catches for us and helped us to be able to win the game.
What did that game do for you guys?
It was a great confidence builder. It gave us the thought in our head that we can do it and all guys need to do is go out there and play hard.
Re: Offensive approach this year as opposed to last year:
That is one thing that kind of gets me, I feel like we run the ball pretty good but I also think we throw the ball a lot so it is pretty balanced for us right now.
What is the difference for you?
Playing with confidence is one of the main things for me. Getting the ball, as a running back, getting in a groove. You get that confidence built up, you are able to go out there and play your game.
*Sebastian (Janikowski) has had his ups and downs this year, how confident are you in him when he lines up to kick. *
I have great confidence in Sebastian. He is a great kicker. Like you said, he has had his ups and downs but for the most part, he has been doing a great job for is this year. If we feel like we need leave the game in his hands, we feel like we can do that.
How much buzz is surrounding the team this year?
It is a great buzz for us right now. We have won three games in a row so it has been great for confidence. Guys approach the game with a 'we are supposed to win' attitude. That is one of the main things that is helping us out.
Are you guys always reminded about what the organization went through and how much they won in the 70's and how you have to live up to that?
A lot of guys, we look back at that but at the same time we feel like it is a different ball game right now. It's not like the 70's. You could just go out there and beat somebody up and not even get a call. So it is kind of different right now.
You guys look like you are still trying play it that at times.
No, we try to approach the game with a football mentality. You have to have a mean mentality going into it and it is something we try to carry into the game.
Is piling up a lot of penalties just an attitude thing?
That is one thing that we have been saying. A lot of the pre-snap penalties we have to try to cut out. I think we are leading the league in penalties right now. It is something we have to correct.
Some of your teammates said that the week before the Kansas City game something was in the air, does that feeling still exist?
It's one of those things for us, you can't get too high off of a win and you can't get too low off of a loss, so you just try to keep it level and go into the game ready to play.
How good of a lead blocker was Peyton Hillis?
He was a great lead blocker for me. I loved running behind him at school. He helped me a lot, I feel like he helped me get to the NFL.
Did he always want to be a tailback?
I've seen him run the ball several times and I knew he had the ability to run the ball. Actually, he was the starting tailback as I was coming in. He was a great runner then and when we came in coach made a few changes, but I knew he was a great runner all along.