Cable laughs at report of tension with Jackson


Cable laughs at report of tension with Jackson


ALAMEDA -- How fine is that residual line between winning and losing?Well, if the Raiders had somehow held on and pulled out a victory atJacksonville on Sunday, wed be dropping Darren McFaddens name intothe league MVP discussion alongside the likes of Tom Brady, MichaelVick and Philip Rivers. But they didnt, the defense falling flat in surrendering big playsgalore. And while still mathematically alive for their first playoffberth since the 2002 season, the Raiders need help. A lot of it.Dysfunction and chaos reign in Silver and Blackdom when the season islost, and with the third-place Raiders (6-7) staring into the abyss, aYahoo! Sports report, in the wake of Oaklands 38-31 loss to the Jaguars, wastimely. Never mind a home game on the horizon against Denver.It spoke of a tension-filled backdrop to the Raiders modestlybreakthrough season. Of coach Tom Cable being angered by owner AlDavis bringing in Hue Jackson as his offensive coordinator. Of Jacksonassociates accusing Cable of trying to undercut the playcaller. OfJackson being so unhappy with the situation that associates have beenpushing him for a number of openings in the pro and college ranks thisseason.When asked if there was any truth to the report in his weekly Monday media conference, Cable grinned.The only truth is that we were just laughing about it upstairs, Cablesaid. Theres absolutely no issue here between Hue and I. We have aprior relationship. Hes doing a marvelous job. Thats stupidity onwhoever wrote it. We had a lot of fun with it upstairs.But of course. What did you expect Cable to do, make like Kevin Baconin Animal House and yell, All is well; remain calm, while beingtrampled by an onrushing mob?Thing is, the report is no mere much-ado-about-nothing. Yet, its notquite where-theres-smoke-theres-fire, either. Its somewhere inbetween.You think Cable was thrilled to have his play-calling duties strippedat the conclusion of last season? You believe he was absolutely excitedto have a new offensive coordinator dropped in his lap? You honestlysuppose Cable was totally comfortable having a member of his staffknown as CIW, Coach in Waiting for short?Yet that was the word at the time of Cablewatch 10, when so many,including yours truly, were sure the coach was headed to the gallows that Cable survived because he acceded to Davis conditions of stayingon but giving up some power to the new guy.CIW, anyone?Jackson, meanwhile, did not arrive as some innocent. Rightly orwrongly, he came aboard with the reputation of being a smiling schemerworking the back channels for a big break. Harsh? Yes. His image insome coaching corners? No doubt.That Jackson and Cable had worked together previously on staffs at CalState Fullerton in 1990 and at Cal in 1996 made for a nice, smiley,feel-good backdrop. But it was Davis who hired Jackson, not Cable.So more than a few eyebrows were raised in recent weeks when Cableseemed to question the pass-happy playcalling in embarrassing losses tothe 49ers, Pittsburgh and Miami.The Raiders are a running team that has to stick to who we are, Cable said more than once.After the defeat in Jacksonville, Cable appeared to throw Jacksoncompletely under the bus. Asked why, with McFadden at his disposal andKyle Boller in at quarterback for an injured Jason Campbell, theRaiders would pass on third-and-three and again on fourth-and-three(neither play call worked), Cable said, I dont know. That is not forme to decide right now.Of course not. If that was not a shot across the bow of the SS Hue, I dont know what is.Which is why Cable praising Jacksons calls a day later seemed a tadforced, because it came as Cable was asked if he had the authority asthe head coach to change Jacksons calls.I dont need to, Cable said. Hes good at what he does. He did ahell of a job yesterday. I got asked about the third-and-three andfourth-and-three calls. They were two great calls. We just didntexecute them.Note that Cable never really answered the question.Cable was then asked if he talks with Jackson during timeouts about the upcoming play.About what our options are, Cable said. I think the role of the headcoach is to make sure youve looked at an A and a B as your choice.(Hue) did a great job, so theres no issue.So when Jackson makes the call from the sidelines, thats the call, no ifs and or butts about it?Absolutely, Cable said.Then surely, if you guys were laughing off this report, Jackson must beconcerned because the griping appears to be coming from his camp, right?He might be, but again, theres nothing to it whatsoever, Cable said.Its a shame that people would say or do something like that.Got it? Good. Then go head, take it all at face value. Just rememberCables flip-flopping on the QB Carousel that threatened whatever teamchemistry and harmony had been built. Even Jackson had a take on itafter the blowout loss to the Steelers.We dont like to play musical chairs at quarterback, Jackson said,but sometimes you do whatever you think you have to do to win.Cable has dramatically changed the culture, with players swearing by him.Jackson has drastically improved the offense, with the team alreadyscoring more points (314) through 13 games than it has in six of itsprevious seven full seasons.The movie on the team charter flight back home Sunday night wasMachete, a slice em up, dice em up tale of an antihero with aproclivity for knives.Could it have been a metaphor for coaches carving each other up behindthe scenes? Depends upon your point of view, and if the team wins orloses.
What's your take? Email Paul and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires


Snap count: Raiders' Melifonwu experiment at cornerback backfires

The Raiders are razor thin at cornerback, without many bodies or talent they can trust. They were down to three healthy career cornerbacks heading into Sunday’s game against New England, with TJ Carrie, Sean Smith and Dexter McDonald available.

Head coach Jack Del Rio added a new name to the mix. He started second-round safety Obi Melifonwu at cornerback against the high-flying Patriots, an experiment that didn’t work out well.

Melifonwu played 26 snaps at cornerback, where he had been working some in practice since becoming eligible to return off injured reserve. He spent the early season on IR after having arthroscopic knee surgery.

Melifonwu was put in a tough spot, and struggled as a result. He allowed two receptions for 69 yards on four targets, including a 64-yard touchdown to Brandin Cooks where he had his eyes in the backfield when the Patriots speedster blew right by.

This position switch came in Melifonwu’s second NFL game, with just seven defensive snaps under his belt. 

Head coach Jack Del Rio admitted it was a move made out of desperation.

“Yeah, a little bit,” Del Rio said after Sunday’s 33-8 loss to New England at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. “We need more production (at cornerback). We're willing to try just about anything and we talked about being lean there and needing more production from that spot.

“(Melifonwu’s) a talented kid and it was probably asking a little too much, but we are going to roll those guys, we rolled our guys in the secondary tonight, and we're going to do that. We have got to do that until somebody starts playing well enough to stay in there full-time.”

The Raiders are in a bind at cornerback with Gareon Conley on injured reserve and David Amerson out three straight games with a foot injury. Demetrius McCray and Antonio Hamilton are also on season-ending injured reserve.

Carrie was a mainstay on Sunday, playing all 60 defensive snaps. Smith took over early, when the Melifonwu experiment wasn’t working out. He played 43 snaps, allowing three catches for 34 yards on five targets. McDonald played just eight snaps.

The Raiders are hoping someone can improve and settle into a full-time spot. The secondary has been thin for some time, but the personnel department has declined to sign anyone new off the street for depth.

That means Del Rio’s staff is still searching for answers at that position from a small pool.

“We're not playing really well on the back end and we have to find a way,” Del Rio said. “And we're going to make it competitive and let guys challenge for it and challenge for time and the guys that play the best are going to play the most.”

Quarterback – Derek Carr 74
Running back – DeAndre Washington 24, Marshawn Lynch 21, Jamize Olawale 14, Jalen Richard 11,
Wide receiver – Amari Cooper 67, Seth Roberts 59, Michael Crabtree 58, Cordarelle Patterson 25, Johnny Holton 13
Tight end – Jared Cook 54, Clive Walford 14, Lee Smith 10
Offensive line – Kelechi Osemele 74, Rodney Hudson 74, Donald Penn 74, Gabe Jackson 74, Vadal Alexander 74

Defensive line –
Khalil Mack 53, Mario Edwards 44, Justin Ellis 38, Eddie Vanderdoes 34, Denico Autry 31, Treyvon Hester 24, James Cowser 14
Linebacker – NaVorro Bowman 51, Bruce Irvin 46, Cory James 44, Nicholas Morrow 15, Marquel Lee 9
Cornerback – TJ Carrie 60, Sean Smith 43, Obi Melifonwu 26, Dexter McDonald 8
Safety – Reggie Nelson 60, Karl Joseph 51, Shalom Luani 9

Nicholas Morrow 18, James Cowser 18, Marquel Lee 15, Erik Harris 15, Xavier Woodson-Luster 15, Keith McGill 15, Jamize Olawale 15, Cordarrelle Patterson 13, Dexter McDonald 12, DeAndre Washington 11, Jalen Richard 9, Shalom Luani 9, Lee Smith 7, Khalil Mack 7, Mario Edwards 7, Eddie Vanderdoes 7, Denico Autry 7, Treyvon Hester 7, Jon Feliciano 7, Johnny Holton 6, TJ Carrie 6, Jon Condo 4, Marquette King 4, Karl Joseph 2, Cory James 2, Obi Melifonwu 2, Giorgio Tavecchio 2

QB EJ Manuel, OT David Sharpe

QB Connor Cook, OT Jylan Ware, DL Jihad Ward, CB David Amerson, LB Shilique Calhoun, RT Marshall Newhouse, DT Darius Latham

Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley having surgery


Raiders first-round pick Gareon Conley having surgery

Raiders cornerback Gareon Conley will have surgery to repair his injured shin on Monday, a week after he was placed on season-ending injured reserve.

This year’s No. 24 overall pick announced that news in an Instagram post, accompanied by a picture of his young son.

Surgery was always a likely outcome after heading to IR, though the team never formally stated that would occur.

The Raiders believe Conley will return completely healthy for the 2018 campaign, and have high hopes for him as a lock down cover man.

They could certainly use him this season. He was expected to contribute heavily as a rookie, but a shin injury suffered in a June minicamp prevented that from happening. He missed training camp and the entire preseason slate, but eventually made his NFL debut in Week 2. He suffered a setback in a Week 3 game at Washington, and was shut down indefinitely on Oct. 6.

Conley was re-evaluated early last week, and the Raiders didn’t see enough progress to keep him on the 2017 roster.

The Raiders are lacking at cornerback with Conley down and David Amerson dealing with a foot injury.

Head coach Jack Del Rio will speak to the media Monday afternoon, and provide an update on Conley’s procedure.