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News » Oakland Raiders Inside Slant 2008-12-26


Oakland Raiders Inside Slant 2008-12-26


Oakland Raiders Inside Slant 2008-12-26
Kirk Morrison is growing tired of wins coming with the frequency of a mortgage payment.


"I did a postgame show and I was talking about how we play good once a month, one game a month," Morrison said. "You're talking about Kansas City in September, the Jets in October, Denver in November and now Houston in December.

"So I definitely want to put back-to-back games together."

Should the Raiders win two in a row for the first time this year, doing on the road and knocking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of a chance at the playoffs, it could well determine the immediate future of the franchise.

Coach Tom Cable, the Raiders interim coach since Sept. 30, is eager to discuss his future with owner Al Davis.

Since Jon Gruden lasted four years before being dealt to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season, Davis has put Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell and Lane Kiffin through the shredder.

Morrison, a starting middle linebacker in his fourth season, has had four head coaches -- Turner, Shell, Kiffin and Cable.

With that in mind, he doesn't pretend to know what Davis is thinking.

"Right now I have no idea," Morrison said. "Our thing is just trying to go out week after week and prove we're a good football team and we do things right. There's just a lot of shoulda, coulda, wouldas. You look at our record, we're 4-11 right now and it's like there's so many games that we could have won and we really should have won."

The Raiders have been ahead or close in four games they lost heading into the fourth quarter, with losses against Buffalo, San Diego (the first time), Miami and Kansas City the most painful.

Taking Davis at his word that Kiffin was going to be fired regardless of record for "cause," a record near .500 would seemingly ensure Cable's return if not for the "coulda, shoulda, wouldas."

In the AFC West, it would make the Raiders contenders for a division title.

The problem is, the Raiders have had plenty of couldas and shouldas in the past six years, predating Morrison's arrival as a third-round draft pick by two seasons.

The Raiders are 23-72 since 2002, and 14-49 since Morrison came aboard in Year 2 of the Turner regime.

In the 16 in-season months since Morrison has been a Raider, they've won one or zero games 13 times. Only once were they over .500 in a month, going 3-1 in October of his rookie season in 2005.

Last season, they were 2-2 in September. Other than that, they've been blow .500 in the 14 other months.

Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha went on record after a 34-7 loss to San Diego in Week 14 that the Raiders were "not close," citing the lack of discipline, the mental errors and the seemingly endless procession of defeats.

Asomugha has seen the entire collapse, joining the Raiders in 2003, the year following the AFC championship and the first year of the 23-72 drop off a cliff.

Maybe it's because Morrison hasn't been with the Raiders for the entire free fall. Perhaps it's because he's from Oakland and firmly believes in tradition, or maybe he's just the eternal optimist.

It's also worth nothing that Asomugha would love to hit the free-agent market without being franchised, while Morrison remains under contact for another year.

Whatever the reason, the Raiders' leading tackler over the past four years does not share Asomugha's skepticism, and points to the reversals of the Dolphins and Falcons as evidence it can happen in Oakland.

"I think we're close," Morrison said. "You look at Miami and Atlanta, what they did from last year to this year, it's a lot of the same players. Miami changes a quarterback but they've got the same running backs, the same receivers, the same defensive guys except for Jason Taylor.

"Atlanta brought in a running back and a quarterback. We have everybody here. We just have to work well together. Those teams have been working well together, the run setting up the pass and playing good defense."

Morrison insists he believes it can be done, but the expectation of defeat has made it a hard sell for Cable.

He's 3-8 as a Raiders head coach, with the Raiders following up a 16-13 overtime win over the Jets with a non-competitive 29-10 loss in Baltimore, and a 31-10 win in Denver with a 20-13 loss to a Kansas City team that had won just one game.

"I mentioned it (after the Texans game), I mentioned it after the Jets game, I mentioned it after the Denver game -- we need a breakthrough," Cable said. "If we can do it again then I think you can leave the facility going into the winter and the spring with some confidence, having the right kind of positive feeling.

"The most important thing to me is we play the game the right way in Tampa and if we're good enough to win the game it makes it that much better. I don't want to see all the lack of discipline or effort or any of those things that have jumped up and bit us in the last few weeks."

When the Raiders finished the season at 4-12 last season, Kiffin, at his season-ending press conference, conceded he'd underestimated the task of changing the culture of losing which has permeated the facility.

He then met with Davis, was refused in his request to dismiss defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, and began a feud with the boss that eventually led to Cable being named interim coach.

Now Cable is discovering the same thing.

"I thought it was a mouse and it turned out to be an elephant," Cable said.

He has one more opportunity to prove to Davis he can join with Morrison and others and began the process of turning things around.

SERIES HISTORY: 7th regular-season meeting. Raiders lead 5-1, and won last regular-season game 30-20 in Oakland as Kerry Collins came off the bench to complete 16 of 27 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown. Rich Gannon sustained a neck injury in the first quarter in a collision with Derek Brooks that ultimately ended his career. The Raiders haven't played in Tampa since 1996, losing 20-17 in overtime. The teams met in Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, with the Bucs winning 48-21, intercepting Gannon five times.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 26, 2008

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