BB: Let's see, injury updates, everybody practiced yesterday except for Ben Kelly, on injured reserve. I think we're still looking at a couple of game time decisions, but at least we were out there doing something yesterday. That's pretty much all I've got. We got any Jerry Rice or Gene Upshaw questions?
Q: Have you ever met Al Davis?
BB: Have I met Al Davis? Yes. After the '98 season when (Jon) Gruden was hired. I've known Coach Davis for a long time. I first met him when I was in Denver, and then through the years, be it the combines or that kind of thing. I've talked to him along the way several times, but I interviewed out there after the '98 season so I got to know much more insight into him, Bruce Allen, the whole organization.
Q: (On Al Davis coming up the ranks of the NFL as a coach)
BB: He was the NFL coach of the year in '63, so he's very knowledgeable in terms of football end of it, in terms of the X's and O's and personnel, I think that pretty much anybody that's been in the league recently has in one way or another been exposed to or studied his philosophy, or philosophies in terms of scouting and personnel classification, just looking at the way they look at players. They're certainly, whether you agree with everything they do or not isn't really the point but there's certainly something to be learned from it. His organization has been very much in the front at that element of identifying personnel and in some cases making some strategic position changes, Todd Christiansen is an example, moving him from fullback to tight end, one of the best tight ends in the league for a number of years. They did that this year with [Ronald] Curry, who was a quarterback, and they moved him to defensive back. I'm just saying a lot of things they do from the personnel side are very much in the forefront, or have been, and I have great respect for their organization and their record through the years.
Q: Do you like the mystique of the Raiders, with their silver and black?
BB: Yeah, I don't really worry too much about the team's colors. I'm not really sure what that is. What I know about the Raiders is that they're a good football team, and the team colors, and the people that come to the games, that have five earrings in their nose, and paint their face silver with black pirates ships on the hat, I don't really care about that. They are a good football team, they're always tough, they're always physical, they're always big. Virtually every player on their team, with the exception of maybe one or two guys would be at or above the average size and speed in the National Football League. The only two guys that I can really think of that you could even say would be undersized would be Charlie Garner and [Rod] Coleman, and they're obviously very good football players, I mean Coleman's their best inside pass rusher, Garner can pretty much do it all in the backfield, but I think all their other players would be either at or above the average size and speed amongst the players at their position in the NFL. That's the way their team's built, you're going to get a big, physical, fast team, that's what the Raiders have always been known for and probably 50 of the 53 players still fit that, even including the kicker.
Q: When you interviewed with Al was it more like a conversation?
BB: Oh yeah. We talked a lot about football, the organization, coaching, coaching strategies, philosophy. And again, I talked to several people in the organization that have obviously spent a lot of time with Al, but I also talked with other people in the organization. They have a great record, they've done a great job through the years, they obviously know what they're doing and it was a good experience.
Q: (On involving the tight ends in the passing game)
BB: Well, I'll say a couple things on that. First, in a couple of the earlier games we were in some formations where we didn't have anybody in the backfield, all the receivers were extended, none of them were involved in blitz pick-up and if people blitzed then the quarterback would have to throw the ball before the blitzers were able to get there. That then involves everybody in the passing game and it doesn't involve anybody in protection. In a way it creates more opportunities for the receivers, although you're somewhat at the mercy of what the defense does because they can force you to do something because you don't have enough people to block them. Not to get technical, but when you get into a situation where either a back or a tight end, or possibly both, are involved in protection, then that cuts down somebody's opportunity. So if you want to release everybody then that's okay, but it has some down side. If you protect then that gives you an opportunity to run some deeper patterns, but it takes some people out of the passing game. As a real simple example, the more that Kevin Faulk's involved in the passing game, the harder it is to get the tight end involved in the passing game on those particular plays because somebody's got to block. The more the tight end's involved in the passing game the harder it is to get the back involved in the passing game for the same reasons. Unless you want to be in a spread out offense every down, and create that, then that's somehow going to limit your opportunities, and when yopu try to balance off your passing attack with different protections, and some protections where you're picking them up, and some protections where you're not, you're throwing the ball quick and keeping the defense off balance. To a certain extent, either the back or the tight end, or somebody, besides the lineman, is going to be sacrificed a little bit in the passing game to be able to give you the variety of protections.
Q: What does it take to get (Daniel) Graham more involved deeper down the field? Is that just calling the play or is it something he has to do?
BB: Well, yeah you have to have him called to go deep, okay? As importantly, or maybe more importantly you have to have a coverage that gives you an opportunity to throw it deep to him. So you don't want to throw a deep ball where there is a defender in the deep part of the field in that area. You want to try to get a situation where he is basically working on coverage that is closer to the line of scrimmage trying to get behind it. It is hard for a tight end to get behind a corner or a safety, as opposed to a receiver, there's certain routes they can get behind them on. A, it has to be called, and B, you have to hit the coverage look that would give the quarterback that read and have him go there. A lot of times when you have a tight end clearing out for a receiver coming underneath him, if the coverage sinks back then you hit the underneath player, if the coverage comes up or they blitz, that gives the clear out guy or the deeper receiver a chance to work in more space in the open field. Those are the kinds of things you get. Normally, generally speaking, you have you faster players running the deeper routes, and the tight ends and the backs on the shorter ones. Sometimes you switch them so you can have a complimentary pattern.
Q: Is Graham the type of guy that it is difficult to match him up with a middle linebacker?
BB: Well I think he's a fast player. That can present a certain match-up to some linebackers, but I think the real key to any receiver getting open is his ability to A, run good routes, and B, catch the ball proficiently. If a player can do that, you know there's a lot of good receivers that may not be the fastest player on the team, or one of the fastest players in the league, but they still may be the best receivers, and that's due to their ability to get open and to catch the ball. In the end, speed's good, and it's good, quickness is probably more important and dependability and being able to catch the ball in tight coverage, or when it's not thrown right in the perfect location, in the end really probably is more important to the receivers production than his passing efficiency.
Q: How is his route running?
BB: Well it's getting better. It's definitely getting better. You can see that he is doing things better and more naturally now than he was earlier in the year. He's had a lot more experience with them and that's continuing to grow and improve. Yet, I'm not going to say he is a finished product in terms of all his routes. Some routes are better than others. I think that as he gets more experience doing them and gets a better understanding of the different looks that can happen, it's one thing when you say 'okay, do this and when the defense does that, here's what happens.' But now, things start changing a little bit. You get jammed at the line or the guy is a little wider or they change up the coverage and give you a little different look. Then that causes sometimes subtle but nevertheless significant route adjustments for the receiver and a quarterback. That's something any young player goes through.
Q: Obviously (Tom) Rathman, Richie Anderson come to mind as far as pass catching fullbacks. How many fullbacks come to mind that can do that?
BB: Well not many, that's usually not the fullbacks role. The thing that you could get sometimes is by putting a player like that out there is a matchup. You get a linebacker out there who is not used to playing that position. On that particular play, you're talking about the one against the Bears?
BB: On that particular play, they're actually in a two-deep zone and (R.W.) McQuarters is out there on him. But because of the zone coverage he was able to get inside the zone and that's where Tom (Brady) hit him with the ball.
Q: Is Rod Woodson still as much a threat now as he was seven years ago maybe?
BB: Oh, every bit. He just plays a different position that's all. But he plays the same way. Rod is a real aggressive player. He is a guy that I have a lot of experience with, many of them back in Cleveland when he was at Pittsburgh and he was truly a shut-down corner. As much of a shut down corner as there was in the league. Rod was a tremendous, tremendous athlete. (A) big guy, (who) could really run, (he) had exceptional hands, (he) returned punts and kickoffs. The kind of guy that you kick the ball away from, kick out of bounds, that type of returner. But very, very aggressive. He would climb all over five yard routes, seven-yard routes, 10-yard routes. Against Woodson it was almost easier to complete a 40 yard go-route than it was to complete a 10-yard curl. Because he would play the receivers so aggressively and so tightly that is was really hard to hit those patterns. He would contest a four yard pass on first-and-10. But at the same time if you had a chance, your chance might be to try to throw it behind him. But again, you are talking about a guy that had world class speed, a lot of size and great ball skills. Now of course at this point in his career, he's at safety and he still has a lot of those same attributes. He still has great hands, he has great anticipation. He is a very aggressive player in terms of playing the ball. He sees the quarterback and reads it very wide. I think he's probably as instinctive and anticipates as well as any safety that we've seen all year. We actually just came out of a meeting with the quarterbacks looking at the Raiders individually and talked quite a bit about Woodson. But he makes a lot of big plays for them because of his anticipation and you know, if you get the pass rush and the quarterback knows he is under pressure and has got to get rid of the ball and Woodson can see where the guy is looking and then he jumps the route and there he is. That play that he made against Denver last week was, to me, a typical Rod Woodson play. Jump in there, undercut the receiver and run it back for a touchdown. He's been doing that his whole career.
Q: You mentioned about some of things that Daniel has to learn. You talked about Lawyer (Milloy) and Tom and their ability to kind of see film and process it. Where does Daniel rate in terms of his ability to kind of learn from just looking at it, seeing live?
BB: Well, I think that it a big part of it. But I think going on the field and experiencing it particularly with the quarterback in the passing game in terms of timing. Any time, you're involved in a skilled position, quarterback, receiver, tight end, running back, you can talk about stuff on the board all you want, and that's certainly a significant part of learning, I'm not trying to minimize that. But we can meet for 20 hours on passing routes, but until the quarterback and the receiver go out there and throw it and catch it and run it, and actually do it, it's never going to be the same as just talking about it. There's just no other way to create that timing other than to go out there and execute it on the field. Not just against air, but eventually in game and in pressure conditions. As much as we talk about it and work on it and improve it, there's still going to be a certain period where you're going to have to go through a learning stage of executing it under pressure. And that is true of all young receivers. Whether its (Deion) Branch, or (David) Givens, or anybody else we've had here, Troy Brown his first couple of years. It's just something that everybody goes through and you develop a silent communication if you will with the quarterback. You just develop a sense of timing, you know? I think we've talked about this before, but say your running a 14-yard route and the quarterback is going to go back out there and practice. And when his back foot hits, he's going to bang it and that ball is going to be there when you hit 14, great. But now you run the route and you get jammed a little bit at the line. Now how deep do you run the route? Because if you run it to 14, by the time you get to 14, now we're no longer on that same timing. The quarterback is standing back there holding the ball waiting, waiting. He wants to get rid of it and you're still not at your depth and your not out of your route. So, do you run it at 11? Do you run it at 12? Do you run it at 13? And that is a clock that has to go off in the receivers head to know that, 'Okay, I've lost 'x' amount of time here at the line trying to get released and now I know it's time for me to break and one time it might be at 11 and one time it might be 12 and the next time it might be 13.' Just based on how long it was that he was actually delayed on the route. He and the quarterback have to experience that and be on the same page with it. Just as an example. That's the kind of thing we're talking about. Until you actually do it and feel it and develop a confidence in each other in doing that then that is part of the learning curve. And all receivers and quarterbacks go through that.
Q: With all the passing that Oakland does, does maybe Leonard Myers get a chance to help you guys? Is he ready to help you out in the secondary?
BB: Well, he could be. He is a lot more ready than he was because he has had more time on the field and of course now he's active, he's on the roster. And he was active for the game last week. At this point it's like anything else. A guy is going to have to show that he is ready to move ahead of the people who have been playing in front of him. Sometimes players get an opportunity because of injuries. If those injuries don't occur, then something is going to have to happen for the player to show that he is ahead of the people who have been out there playing. If Leonard has a opportunity to do that, which right now his opportunities have been in practice because he hasn't had the defensive play time, but when he has the opportunity to do that, then that is what he is going to have to show.
Q: Will (Antwoine) Womack fill the roster spot?
BB: I would say probably not this week. We're going to have to make a decision on Womack next week one way or the other at that point. I would say probably not this week.
Q: What is it about Willie McGinest's position where he is like fifth in tackles, first in sacks, and second in pass defenses? What is it about that position that he plays that he can do so many things?
BB: Well he really plays two spots for us. He plays defensive line and he plays linebacker. He plays a combination of both. Sometimes he is down and he drops. Sometimes he is up and he rushes. We try to keep the offense off balance as to knowing what it is exactly he is doing. But he has the versatility to do both of them and I think that is reflected in really the comments that you just made there. That's what Willie gives you. He's good at a lot of things but maybe more importantly, or as importantly, he's versatile. He can do things that a linebacker can do. He can also do things that a defensive lineman can do and that's a hard combination to find. If they don't treat him as a defensive lineman, they can get mismatched in the pass rush. If they don't treat him as a linebacker that can mess up some of the coverages reads that the quarterback and the receivers are on, you know, what to do against certain linebacker locations. We are fortunate that we are able to utilize him in a versatile role and that is what we've been trying to do pretty much all year. And he has had a productive year