Tomlin on the Raiders


Coach Mike Tomlin offers some insight on the Steelers' opponent this week – the Oakland Raiders.
Q. How did the Oakland Raiders beat the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this season?
A. They ran the football effectively, and they made critical plays at critical moments. Cincinnati wasn't able to put the ball in the end zone when they were in the red zone a couple of times. All of that is a recipe for an upset.
Q. Bruce Gradkowski is now the Raiders starting quarterback. What does he bring to the table that might have convinced Oakland to start him over JaMarcus Russell?
A. When you watch the tape, Gradkowski is clearly more accurate, and he definitely has better mobility. I think those are the two things that really constituted the change for them, and you can see that Gradkowski has clearly been a boost in their offense.
Q. Who has emerged as Gradkowski's favorite receiver?
A. It's Zach Miller, the tight end. He's a really impressive guy. People who haven't been exposed to Miller should think about Chris Cooley from the Washington Redskins as a comparison. He's that kind of a receiving threat, he's a vertical threat, he averages 14 yards a catch. A lot of their football goes to the tight end position.
Q. The Raiders moved Robert Gallery, one a high pick as a tackle, into a guard spot. Was that a move that was in the making all along?
A. I don't know the answer to that, but I do know he is an elite guard from a talent standpoint. You see his pedigree turn up. He's a very big man. Some of the interior big people on defense who cause some guards problems in this game don't cause him problems – the 350-pound, 3-technique guys, he stands up pretty stout against them. He's a good football player.
Q. As for the running game for the Raiders, it seems like a three-headed monster – Michael Bush, Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas?
A. All of the guys have a similar running style in that the Raiders are a zone-scheme running team, and they're one cut runners. They're slashers, and they don't mess around. Michael Bush is a big powerful man, about 250 pounds. McFadden is their former first-round pick and has blazing speed, and Fargas is probably is just as impressive as either of the other guys because he's a combination of both guys. Fargas has breakaway speed, and he's a bigger guy than McFadden.
Q. How much a problem might their big defensive linemen pose?
A. Raiders bodies, as we call them. They are some big people. It starts with Tommy Kelly inside. He's bigger than Richard Seymour, if you can believe that, and those two guys wreak havoc and really control the line of scrimmage.
Q. How would you evaluate the Raiders back seven on defense?
A. It starts with their cornerback play. Those guys play bump-and-run, aggressive style Raiders football. They're very talented in that area. They also have some linebackers who can run and really penetrate the line of scrimmage, particularly when you're in one-back. When you're in one-back formations, those linebackers attack downhill.

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