Offensive coordinator Al Saunders speaks to the media after practice. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Q: What do you think of these cornerbacks you're facing?
Coach Saunders: I probably think what the rest of the league thinks about them, that they really have earned a lot of respect obviously, and [Darrelle] Revis is a special guy and [Antonio] Cromartie is a big tall 6'4" player that covers really well and is outstanding. Their defense, and what they do creatively on defense, and what Rex [Ryan] has done over the years is built around guys, much like the Raiders history and tradition is being able to play man-press coverage on the outside and be very creative inside with your line, and your linebackers, and your safeties. They fall into that category, they are tremendous players and we have a great deal of respect for them and we have our work cut out this weekend.
Q: Do you have to guard against worrying too much about how good they are, and thinking we have guys too and we are going to take our shots when we need to take our shots?
Coach Saunders: Sure, were going to play the game. That's why we play on Sunday, I know our people are looking forward to playing on Sunday, you have to play and you have got to do what you do, and attempt to do it well on game day.
Q: What makes Revis so good at what he does?
Coach Saunders: He is a tremendously gifted athlete, number one. In this league, those who are very gifted are usually the ones that are very successful if they put in the time and effort and energy to know what they are able to do and have great technique, and he is a great technique player. Often times you get defensive backs on the corner that can do some things, there is very little that he hasn't shown that he can not do, he covers well up the field, he gets out of breaks really well, he closes the cushion well, he's got speed, he is a tremendous football player.
Q: When did you first realize Denarius Moore he had something special that he had a little extra than most rookies do?
Coach Saunders: Actually looking at his game films from Tennessee, I can't remember exactly what he averaged per catch, but I think it was twenty something; he was one of the leading receivers in NCAA last year last year in yards per catch. Every time you look at him on video it wasn't a two or three yard gain, or an intermediate pass, he was catching the ball down the field, tremendously explosive plays, and he plays the game fast. You don't know what they time at until you go to the combine or something like that, but you can see on video the level of speed a guy plays with. He had that quality, so we knew that he had the ability to get down the field in the style of football that we like to play here in Oakland. The thing that really showed up in training camp was his ability to change direction; he not only runs fast, he plays fast. He catches the ball extremely well, he is able to change direction in full speed and often times you find receivers have a difficult time getting out of breaks because they don't change their weight real well. He drops his weight, gets out of breaks, he's been outstanding, he's really been a great contributor in terms of what we are trying to do and where we're trying to go.
Q: A lot of players have talked this week about staying ahead on the down and distances, and staying on time, can you talk a little about how important that is against an aggressive defense like the Jets?
Coach Saunders: I know that the Jets, after two games in the NFL are the number one team in the league in first down production on defense, and I think the opponents are averaging about 3.84 yards per play on first down. When you do that, and you follow it up with maybe not an effective second down, you get yourself in third down and long situations, and against any football team, offensively you would say you want to be in a normal manageable third down situation. The longer the distance goes on third down the more freedom they have in substituting personnel groups and doing creative things on defense. that probably give you more problems than normal down and distances do, so it's really important for us to play well on first down.
Q: What does having Kevin Boss back do for you as a play caller and what you can do offensively?
Coach Saunders: Kevin gives you a big target. He is an experienced guy, and he comes to us with a nice pedigree as a run blocker and also is a great target down the field. We haven't actually seen him cut loose in a Raiders uniform yet, but we're hoping that will happen this weekend and he will provide another target and a big blocker at the end of the line of scrimmage for us.