Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

November 12, 2008
Knapp addresses his demotion

ALAMEDA - Here's a brief Q&A with Greg Knapp, who had his play-calling duties taken away by interim head coach Tom Cable last week.

Knapp will still assist in weekly planning and be the voice in the headsets of quarterbacks during the game.

Q: How do you feel about the decision?
A: Frustrated. I wish I could still be doing it in defense of a young quarterback, trying to help his growth. I think it's important that there's as many constants as you can have for a young quarterback's development. It's important that you try to keep some consistency for him. So he'll be going through his third play-caller now when he gets back on the field. I'm frustrated because I'm trying to help this guy develop and become a very good quarterback in this league.

Q: Ever been in a season with three play-callers?
A: This is my first experience going through it.

Q: How hard for is this for JaMarcus Russell?
A: It's very hard because you have to get to know the new play-caller and what he's feeling. Tom will do the right thing. He'll talk to the quarterback, he'll get to know him well and get a feel for what he likes in the game plan. So he'll do his homework to prepare for the game but it's still, as a process, for that young quarterback to have to go through, to have to learn what's that play-caller feeling.

Q: Were you caught off-guard?
A: Yeah, I was surprised. I was very surprised. Felt like we had a pretty good game against the New York Jets, we were making strides with a young offense despite the fact that we've gone through some personnel changes on offense. QB played very well, had a better quarterback rating than the guy across the way. Came back against Baltimore, had a tough first half but the second half of the Baltimore game we had almost 200 yards of offense in Baltimore. Definitely frustrated at the Atlanta game. We just didn't play well enough as a group.

Q: Four-game tryout enough time?
A: It's for me, as a former play-caller, I'm OK. But for the players to get to know the feel of the play-caller, it takes some time, and that takes a little longer than four games..

Q: Tom's explanation?
A: He felt like he wanted to give the offense a little different look based on the most recent game. It was based on the Atlanta game when he talked to me about it. Because of that, that's what he felt like he needed to do.

Q: Do you think (owner Al) Davis had a say?
A: Uh, that will be something you have to ask Tom.

Q: Cable said Davis didn't have input. You're thoughts?
A: I ... I don't know but, uh, I don't know for sure so I'd hate to speculate on the question that might be directed one way or the other.

Q: Does it make sense for Cable to want to take over considering he is the head coach?
A: That's a very good point. I have not been in that man's shoes, at that position's shoes, a head coach's shoes. From that perspective, they need to do that and if he feels like that's the best for the organization and feels like that's the best for us to win, as a subordinate, as an assistant coach, you have to follow that lead.

Q: How much of playbook is gone without Darren McFadden?
A: Darren's one factor of it. There's more than just one piece of this puzzle. That's what makes this game so great. The fact that we lost Drew Carter in preseason, getting Chaz Schilens growing in the offense, that was a big stride for us, unfortunately he's hurt now. Darren was one factor. That's definitely something we had done a lot of preparation work for in training camp and OTAs as far as moving him around and playing him in different spots. It still ultimately falls on the team to move the ball.

Q: How much have the problems with the offensive line been a factor in the offensive struggles?
A: Tom has said publicly that we have struggled with protection lately. That was something we had to concentrate on and so we've changed some schemes in order to give our quarterback more time to throw the ball. That has been a big issue as far as preparing for our game plan.

Q: How good can this offense be if everyone is healthy?
A: It's going to take time. It's going to take time, you're exactly right. Even if we had everybody healthy I still believe it takes time. When you have a brand new offense coming together and a new quarterback this year, essentially this guy is a rookie this year. Last year didn't count really with missing all of training camp so this is truly his rookie year since he came out early. It's going to take one, two probably three years to be on the same page. Just look at the history of the NFL. The Tom Bradys, the Peyton Mannings, Donovan McNabbs. The same system and the same offense didn't look as good year one as it did in year three. Even with all the pieces healthy it takes time and patience is needed. In order to build your foundation I truly believe, your foundation is your quarterback, as much continuity as you can have around him both on the field and off the field the faster that will grow. Until that continuity stays the same it will be hard for that guy to grow.

Q: How can Cable handle the offensive line, calling plays and be the head coach?
A: It will be a new challenge for a guy to handle.

Q: Does that change what JaMarcus has to deal with?
A: The schemes have not changed a whole lot, maybe some of the protections have. But it is the third play-caller. Going through a third play-caller you do have to take time to adjust to that guy has. The play-caller has to get to know the QB and the QB has to get to know the play-caller.


Cable is taking on a lot of responsibility -- too much from the outside looking in.

He's now the head coach, play-caller and offensive line coach.

"I feel responsible for where we're at offensively," Cable said. "With that being the case and my nature and my personality I've got t o find a way to do more and help where I can. I really haven't been active in that role, obviously as the line coach, but I feel that responsibility now and want to shoulder that responsibility; so I'm more involved."

Considering the offensive line is a big reason why the offense is struggling, it would seem strange for Cable to take on more.

But he insists that it's not a problem and that he won't step back from managing the offensive line.

"In meetings, the installations, the teachings and all of that (with the line), I will not give that up," Cable said.

Cable said offensive line assistant coach James Cregg has taken on a bigger role in managing the linemen and running drills.

• Cable said Kwame Harris and Mario Henderson would split time in practice and he'd announce the starting left tackle on Friday.

Henderson played in the second quarter Sunday against Carolina.

• Remember Quentin Moses? The third-round pick that the Raiders cut last year plays for Miami.

Here's Miami coach Tony Sparano on Moses:

"One of the things we saw, it was toward the end of the year when we were evaluating the film, is some pass-rush ability. So, he was a big guy, a big, young player that we thought had some pass-rush ability. Quentin has proven that in the preseason and in the training camp that he has the ability to rush the passer, he's starting to get his hips turned. He has a lot to learn right now, obviously. He is playing a little bit different position right now, as he's playing up as a Sam linebacker for us, but he's getting better and better every day. He's a good young prospect that is, as we would say, is an arrow-up guy."

• Today's official injury report:

Limited players:

QB JaMarcus Russell (knee)
RB Darren McFadden (toe)
DE Derrick Burgess (triceps)
WR Chaz Schilens (ankle)

Players that did not practice:
WR Javon Walker (ankle)
C Jake Grove (calf)
QB Andrew Walter (ankle)
LB Ricky Brown (groin)

Walker is doubtful, according to Cable.

• The Raiders claimed CB/KR Justin Miller off waivers from the New York Jets and waived tight end John Madsen.

Miller, 24, was a Pro Bowl kick return after the 2006 season when he averaged 28.3 yards a return and scored two touchdowns.

Miller was a second-round pick out of Clemson in 2005 but played in only one game this season. He played in only two games in 2007 before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury.

Miller figures to challenge Johnnie Lee Higgins for the role of kickoff returner. Cable said Miller can also return punts.

And the intern I saw on the field wasn't an intern. It was quarterback Jeff Otis, who was re-signed to the practice squad.

He'd been working at an investment firm back east, putting that Columbia education to good use, and helping out high school kids as a volunteer coach and working out to stay in shape.

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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