ALAMEDA - The topic of choice continues to be why Daunte Culpepper is not the starting quarterback.
I wish I had a real answer, but all I have is what Lane Kiffin tells the media.
Question: Is the problem that Daunte Culpepper can't learn the plays? I can't see any other reason for continuing to play Josh McCown and even that may not be a valid excuse. How about the guy from Arizona State?
James Bennison, Lincoln
Answer: Kiffin said Culpepper has learned the offense well, but he's still behind McCown in mastering the offense. The reason I don't completely buy that is that teams don't run their entire playbook every game. Teams go week-to-week, using plays best suited for the opponent. Culpepper wouldn't need to know the whole playbook, just the plays and audibles for that week.
If McCown has a bad game against Cleveland - especially if he continues to throw interceptions - I'd expect Kiffin to go to Culpepper.
And I assume the guy from Arizona State you're asking about is Andrew Walter, not tight end Zach Miller. Walter might be in his last week with the Raiders. When JaMarcus Russell signed, the team received a two-week roster exemption, meaning Russell does not count against their 53-man roster.
After this week's game, the Raiders will have to decide if they want to carry four quarterbacks, something NFL teams rarely do. Also, Kiffin hasn't expressed much confidence in Walter the past few weeks.
If they don't keep four quarterbacks, Walter could be traded or cut before the team plays Miami.
Question: Hey Jason, thanks for the great coverage of the Raiders. If Kiffin stresses competition and performance on the field, what the heck is he thinking continuing to start McCown over Culpepper? Especially after McCown throws 5 INTs in 2 games. In addition, Stu Schweigert is terrible, misses tackles all over the field and is really a liability. Is there anyone the Raiders can look at as an upgrade to this position?
Cody, San Diego
Answer: Hey, Cody. I'll answer the question even though those Padres have made life tough on me as a Dodger fan.
Kiffin contends the Raiders are better with McCown right now and that he makes the right decisions - in spite of five picks in two games. I thought Kiffin held off naming a starting quarterback so long because he couldn't stress competition and hand the job to Culpepper after two weeks. But that hasn't been the case, even though Culpepper outplayed McCown in exhibition games.
As for Schweigert, there are no plans to move him right now. There are those around the Raiders who believe Michael Huff is best suited to play free safety, but the Raiders plan to play Huff at strong safety.
And right now it wouldn't matter, as the secondary as a whole has looked horrible in tackling.
What you could see is Schweigert playing more near the line of scrimmage with Huff dropping back more in coverage. But what happens if and when Huff misses tackles?
When the Raiders cut Donovin Darius, it left a hole at backup strong safety. The Raiders worked out Lamont Thompson, who was a solid free safety in Tennessee, but he, and Darius, signed with Miami.
- Jason Jones