|Embattled Kiffin leads Raiders against Chargers|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 25 September 2008 13:28|
The situation Lane Kiffin is dealing with this season goes beyond that. For nearly two weeks he has been hit with reports his firing was imminent. But each day that was supposed to be his last in Oakland has passed with no announcements or denials from the Raiders' front office.
So Kiffin has gone about his business, preparing the Raiders (1-2) for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers (1-2). Along the way, he has gotten support around the league from close friends as well as casual acquaintances.
``I've had a number of calls from head coaches in the NFL, some that I don't have very close relationships with,'' Kiffin said. ``I'm just seeing a lot of encouraging words from head coaches and some general managers as well.''
g with in Oakland better than Chargers coach Norv Turner.
Turner spent two years working for Davis before being fired following the 2005 season with a 9-23 record. After spending a season as offensive coordinator in San Francisco, Turner took over the Chargers in 2007 and led them to the AFC title game.
He wouldn't talk about what it's like to coach for Davis, but said his players have been asking about the turmoil in Oakland this week. He has told them to pay more attention to the improved play by the Raiders on the field than the dysfunctional behavior off it.
``We can't worry about what's going on in Oakland, because a lot of times that's actually a trap for teams,'' running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. ``Teams get to worrying about what's going on in a certain place, and they forget about what they need to do to win the game. And pretty soon the game comes and their team is playing, and playing well. Because of their distractions, it brings the team together. So we can't worry about that. We've got to focus on ourselves.''
Kiffin has no plans to quit, saying it would be unfair to the coaches and players he persuaded to come to Oakland despite a recent history of losing. He also has no plans to seek out Davis for a resolution on his status, instead choosing to plug away while in limbo.
ity and playing Buffalo to the wire the past two games.
``This is a time and circumstance where people can go astray, especially with all the reports and if we had some different guys on our team they could take advantage of this,'' Kiffin said. ``They could go in their own direction and just say, 'Well, we continue to hear that our head coach is going to be fired, so we're not going to listen to him.' I'm proud of our guys that they've done a good job of sticking together and playing together.''
Kiffin said the uncertainty has been hardest on his family, especially his wife, Layla, who is due to deliver the couple's third child in January.
``All of a sudden, she's got realtors coming by the house asking if we're putting the house up,'' he said. ``So it's tough, especially on a pregnant woman that doesn't know where she's going to be when her child's delivered. If there was any regret, that's what it would be.''
The Chargers have dealt with their own form of adversity early this season after losing their first two games by a total of three points. They fell at home in the opener on the final play to Carolina.
They then went on the road to Denver and lost in the final minute by one point in a game remembered for referee Ed Hochuli's blown call that set up the Broncos' winning score.
``You can't go back and say, 'We should have won those games.' We lost those games,'' cornerback Antonio Cromartie said. ``We got to look forward to every other week, every week that we go back and go play now. We got our first win, now we're just going week by week and trying to play the football that we're supposed to play.''
The offense has been dynamic through three games, scoring 110 points behind the prolific passing of Philip Rivers, who leads the NFL with nine TD passes and a 124.8 passer rating.
Tomlinson has been slowed by a turf toe injury and has only 190 yards rushing so far. But given his history, this figures to be the week he gets back into the groove. He is averaging 122.1 yards rushing per game against Oakland and has scored 19 overall TDs in 14 games. With 55 yards rushing and two touchdowns on Sunday, Tomlinson would have the best numbers ever for a back against one team through 15 meetings.
``Each week we've gone out with the mind-set of stopping the run and so far we've done a pretty good job at it,'' defensive lineman Fred Wakefield said. ``It's just a matter of putting that game together where everything is clicking. We were close last week, we just need to finish it off.''
AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.