Raiders' head coach Art Shell and defensive tackle Warren Sapp spoke to Houston media on Wednesday afternoon in their weekly conference calls.
**Head coach Art Shell
(on disappointment on season)** "It's disappointing. I expected, of course, to be better than this. But I also knew that this thing would not be an easy thing for us to get done. But even though our record doesn't show it, I think our team is getting better."
(on how he sees his team getting better) "They're playing like they're supposed to play. They're trying to get things done. They haven't gone south, they're improving. We're going to be okay."
(on WR Randy Moss statement earlier this season) "We all feel bad. We're all in a foul mood. He's exasperated and he's disappointed and so am I, just like the rest of this football team. We expect to be better and we're not. All I ask Randy to do, just like all the players is go out on the football field and work, and he's been doing that."
(on satisfied with Moss' effort) "He's been working like the rest of us."
(on his decision to change offensive coordinators) "It's an important time of the year right now where we are not scoring enough points. Tom (Walsh) gets blamed for a lot of things. But when you don't score enough points, when things don't go right then you got to look in a different direction, so that's what I've done."
(on struggle because of Tom Walsh's absence in the NFL for so long) "I don't believe so. No, I don't believe that."
(on difference with defense) "The difference has been the guys have been on the scheme for a couple of years now with (defensive coordinator) Rob (Ryan). We have a lot of good, young players on our defense. We've got pretty good leadership on our defensive squad. Those guys are really playing hard and are really playing well together."
(on first round pick DB Michael Huff) "Michael is going to be an excellent football player in this league for a long time. He really has really developed and been getting better each and every week. He faces a lot of, in our division of course, he faces a lot of top tight ends in the National Football League and a lot of times not only in our division but in our conference. He is getting better every time out."
(on RB LaMont Jordan having a hard time getting on track this season) "The team has been having a hard time getting on track not just LaMont. We have tried, LaMont has had a back problem that's gone to have some problems for him. Of course the unfortunate thing with the medial collateral ligament a couple of weeks a go. Hopefully he'll be able to come back next year and be ready to go."
(on getting better on pass protection) "With (QB) Aaron (Brooks) it brings a different dynamic to the table. His ability to move makes things a lot easier for us. He can escape in the pocket, of course our protection has to get better. I think it has gotten a little bit better than it was at the beginning of the year. We're a better football team now than we were at the beginning and Aaron brings a lot to the table for us."
(on guarding WR Andre Johnson) "That guy can run like a deer and he has outstanding hands and he runs good routes. He's an excellent football player and you can see why he was the number one draft choice."
(on feeling confident about what they can do to the Texans after watching them against the Jets) "We are preparing for this team just like we were preparing for any other football team. We have a lot of respect for Houston, you can't disrespect anybody in this league because you can get your tails knocked off. We're preparing for Houston just like we were preparing for anybody. They're coming in here, they've got a good football team, their franchise is good and they've got an outstanding coaching staff and they'll be ready to play."
(on owner Al Davis handling this season) "Al's just like the rest of us. He's disappointed. I'm disappointed but he does not waiver in his resolve to try to make this team better."
(on LB DeMeco Ryans) "He's pretty good. He's pretty good, he's a tenacious kid. You can tell that it looks like he's one of the leaders of that defense and he makes a lot of plays."
(on LT Robert Gallery's status) "He's very questionable. Mostly, probably doubtful."
**DT Warren Sapp
(on why defense is playing so well)** "The thing this year is that everybody's taking a concern with being where they're supposed to be and knowing their responsibilities on each given play no matter what the personnel or whatever the situation is. That, and just trusting the guys to be where they're supposed to be and let them decide who makes the tackles."
(on him playing a lot better this year) "I'm healthy. That's the one thing a year ago at week ten I was done. These last two weeks, the whole season has been an eye opener situation where I put myself in a position where no one will take me off the field again and so far so good."
(on having a chance to watch DE Mario Williams) "No, I actually haven't other than the little tidbit they did early this season on the television. But I haven't gotten a chance to sit down and look at him. I know the man that's directing him and that's Bob Karmelowics and that's the man that started me and he's got a good teacher in him and if he listens and pays attention to him the sky's the limit for him."
(on what advice he would give LB DeMeco Ryans and DE Mario Williams) "The only thing I can tell you is work hard and believe in the people that you play with because you can't do it all by yourself. That's the one thing that we learned down in Tampa a long time ago that it's going to take all eleven of us to get this thing done, not one guy is going to make us better. It's going to take all eleven that we've got on the field. We've got to be ready to play."
(on importance of getting right coaches in place for success) "I really don't think it's all about coaches. I think if you've got a group of coaches and they all teach you one way and they all talk about it one way then the message gets across clear. I think that's the biggest thing we've got a coaching staff that are on the same page that people are implementing their own whatever is on their system…it's something that gets real confusing at times for people to understand if I tell you one thing and I tell them something different, then how do they play the same way? That's the biggest thing, everybody is on the same page, teaching it one way then it's easy for the message to get across."
(on Texans' offense) "I don't have too much room to be looking at other people's offense. I've got enough problems over here myself."
(on him playing on defenses where defenses were better than offenses) "There might be better players, but I don't think that's the case around here. We got put in a situation where guys are learning a new system. We're looking for an identity on offense and we're trying to mix and match and find out what's the best plan for scoring and attack people. We're letting them switch around here…but wherever you make a switch, wherever you go in anything you change around here all of a suddern you're going to think that's going to make it better but we just have to make plays."
(on other teams changing offensive coordinators and not defensive coordinators) "Well because (at) third and 25 you can call a draw, you can call a pass depends on who is evaluating that call. On defense you go out and try to stop people, the offenses are high-powered and they've got a lot of skills people go around and you just want to stick with what you know. As far as the defensive part of the ball, I don't think you have more than one D-coordinator in a group of guys. You might have a special group of coaches that have, potentionally, two coordinators or something like that, but they're normally on the offensive side of the ball because they're trying to (find) a way to score more points."
(on how a new offensive coordinator is going to affect the team) "I really don't think it's going to put us in a position where it makes us any worse off, because we weren't moving the ball, we weren't scoring enough points in key situations. Maybe it'll give us a little variety in to play our tendencies and stuff like that and allow us to go and attack people a little bit more or something that they don't expect on certain downs and distances."
(on how he feels about turning things around with a team and now)"It's a little disheartening at times when you look at my record of 2-9. As far as the teammates that I have and the style of defense that we're playing I enjoy that part of it. But at the end of the game at a loss it's a little frustrating at that point because you know you've given it everything you possibly have and you put yourself in a position where you could win that game but you didn't get it done. You just go out and keep plugging and everything will work out."
(on his thoughts on being a potential Hall of Fame candidate)"The goal of mine is to become the best I can become for my team and then when it's all said and done let you guys decide where I belong in history."
(on lining up against G Fred Weary and G Chester Pitts)"I pull the numbers and names of all the guys I'm going to face and put them all in the same category as Larry Allen and Randall McDaniel, two best guards I've ever faced in the game that way I won't be disappointed."
(on defensive line coach Bob Karmelowics) "He's the one that started me on this thing. He's the one that convinced me to put my hand on the ground and make proper decisions for me. I don't think I've had the chance to thank him yet."
(on if he deserves the Hall of Fame and where he thinks he fits in history) "The thing about it is I've never looked at myself as far as individual accomplishments. But I know what we did in Tampa those nine years that we were down there were special because I don't think any defense has a run of six years averaging 16.02 points a game and that's what we did and that's special football and to that special collection of guys that and if they me to be considered one of the best to ever play in this game then so be it. But if not that's fine, too."
(on difficulty of last couple of years after winning at (University of) Miami and Tampa Bay) "It's been real tough. My first year I was in a system that didn't suit me and I shut up and I played. And then a year ago I had a good season going, I had five sacks in 10 weeks and all of a sudden my season was over for the first time in eleven years. That's part of one junction in my life where I told myself that I'd put myself in a position to appreciate this game for what it is. This is the greatest game on the face of the earth, and (to) appreciate my teammates and the opportunity I have to play this game."
(on how he feels about Colts' head coach Tony Dungy and his time to win a Super Bowl) "I thought it was the right intervention when Jerome Bettis fumbled that ball on the two-yard line a year ago…we're going to see because there is one thing I do know: He's going to have them in the right frame of mind ready to go on a great game plan. Sometimes you've got to be lucky, they've been good for some time it's time for a little luck to come their way."
(on how he and guys that played for Dungy would feel if he gets there) "I know the man, he wants to win and winning it would be something that would fulfill something in his life that he did as a player and that's when he won that championship in Pittsburgh. I know the man, I know what he stands for and nothing other than a championship will do for him."
(on QB David Carr) "I think he's a good quarterback. I think the one thing that you have to give a quarterback is enough weapons aligned to where his leadership ability and his skill will allow everybody to excel. I think with the draft and everything, I think Carr would have liked to have a running back in his back so they can get some mismatches going on. But they've got a good player in Mario Williams and they made that decision. Carr is an excellent quarterback, make no mistake about that. You don't have a leading receiver in the game without a good guy throwing it at him."
(on DE Mario Williams dealing with spotlight as a rookie) "Well the thing that he has to do is get adjusted to the game because it's a totally different game as far as a defensive lineman from college to the pros. I used to tell people all the time that I couldn't get a holding call in a college game because I wanted it in a college game, in the pros they'll look at you and tell you to grow up. That's the biggest difference that you have to deal with, actual hand play and the amount of grabbing that goes on in the trenches. Once he gets adjusted to that he'll be fine because you're not 6'7, 290 pounds and run like the wind and not be able to showcase that ability in this league. It's just got to be something to where he had to understand what people are trying to do to him and be able to counter it."
(on WR Andre Johnson making the Miami program proud)"Andre Johnson should make anybody proud to be associated with. (Andre) is a stellar, professional on and off the field and will be one for a really long time and is going to be one of the great ones in this league."