Cerrato: 'Some crazy things have happened'
I've got this fancy new recorder that lets me record like 73 hours of audio, so here are more, non-Jimmy Clausen highlights from Vinny Cerrato's ESPN 980 radio program, Inside the Red Zone.
And sure, the program is two hours and just cherrypicking stuff like this is probably unfair to some degree. I guess Cerrato could start a blog and make fun of all my missteps on my radio and television appearances.
1. Cerrato was interviewing CBS Sports's Clark Judge about the Oakland Raiders, this week's opponent.
"As you know Vinny, living in the Bay Area, it's a dysfunctional ballclub,"Judge said at one point. "And it will be until and unless Al [Davis] cedes control of that team. There's just some things that don't figure there and never have. It's gonna take them a while to get those things straightened out, but I think once they get a new direction, that can happen. They've got talent on that club. They've got a lot of talent on that club. It just doesn't fit in."
2. Cerrato was interviewing new Virginia Coach Mike London, and at one point he brought up a sore spot: the lack of an indoor practice facility.
"You gonna get an indoor facility pretty soon?" Cerrato asked with a chuckle.
"I'll tell you what, that's what's on my agenda right now," London said. "Obviously the facilities here are fantastic, and you can always add to the overall experience, and I think that's something that's recognized. And while I'm here, I'm gonna be working on that....
"I think more so for recruiting than anything else almost, just because everybody else has it," Cerrato answered. "When a kid comes there and it's cold out, you say where do you practice when it gets cold? Especially for development in the offseason also, I think it's huge."
3. At one point in his conversation with Judge, the issue of poor tackling came up.
"I'll be honest with you Vinny, I've seen a lot of poor tackling throughout the league this year," Judge said. "I was at the Dallas-Giants game last weekend, and I thought the Cowboys were terrible tackling."
"Well, that happens as the season goes on," Cerrato said. "Just because, to me, teams aren't practicing with pads and you just don't work on those fundamentals, and the only time you're practicing tackling is on Sundays. So a lot of time, that tackling isn't as good."
4. Later, Cerrato was interviewing Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney, and at the end of the interview, Swinney had a question of his own.
"Vinny, I think I met you," Swinney said. "Are you still the player personnel guy or general manager? You came down to Alabama to recruit [Chris] Samuels? I was an assistant then, and you and Mr. Snyder flew down to I think recruit Chris. I was just a young guy, but I remember you guys coming in."
5. Cerrato also interviewed his friend Mel Kiper Jr. about April's NFL draft, at one point, for example, asking where college QBs Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett would go if they declare for the draft.
"Now Mel, who's your top 5?" Cerrato asked at one point. "If the draft was today, who's your top 5?"
"Well, Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, the two defensive tackles, they're gonna scrutinize them, the NFL will, and it depends on the system you're in as to who you take," Kiper said. "Certainly the quarterbacks will follow suit. Eric Berry would be at 3, the safety from Tennessee who they moved around this year, to get him in a lot of different areas and show a lot of the skills that he has."
"You think a safety will go in the top 5, Mel?" Cerrato asked, sounding surprised.
6. "And certainly the quarterbacks," Kiper continued. "You would line them up there after, with Jimmy Clausen, Jake Locker, Sam Bradford, Ryan Mallett if he decides to come out. Those four quarterbacks, depending on who comes out, would be in that next tier."
"Say they all came out, Mel, how would you rank 'em and give us the evaluation," Cerrato requested.
"Well, Jimmy I think is a kid who you would have to look very seriously at," Kiper said, and it was unclear exactly who "you" was referring to. "And it's not done yet, I don't have any final evaluation," he continued. "I think I'll position them right behind those top three and then make a decision down the road on who's 1, 2 or 3 from the quarterback group. But all those guys right now are, I think, bunched together."
"It sounds like the top of the draft is gonna be defensive tackles and quarterbacks and a running back," Cerrato concluded.
7. Still later in the program, Cerrato and co-host Frank Hanrahan were discussing the Redskins' season.
"You know, a kick in Dallas, some crazy things in Philadelphia, and the New Orleans game," Cerrato said with lament. "Some crazy things have happened to us that you haven't seen in football in a while. And all these teams are going to the playoffs, and more than likely we could have won them all, but we've just got to learn how to win the close games at the end, that's the thing that we haven't been doing. But you'd like to see the continued development of these guys. Devin, Malcolm, Marko, Fred, Jason Campbell, Ganther, all these guys keep performing and keep improving. Because we are making progress offensively and stuff, so I think that's what you'd like to see.
"And we've got some big games [left]. You'd like to get on a winning streak here, because you've got some really big games at home here, on a Monday night with the Giants, and on a Sunday night with Dallas. There'd be nothing better than to win those games, for the fans and for everything else. To win those games, I think it would get everybody kind of going in the right direction. Because if you look at it like this, last year's Cincinnati, I think they won their last four, three or four games at the end of the season, so they got a little momentum going into the offseason, and now they're 9-3. So there is some carryover factor."
Indeed, the Bengals won their last three games of '08. So did the Falcons, who are now 6-6. The 2008 Miami Dolphins won their final five games, and then began this year 0-3. The 2008 San Diego Chargers won their final four games, and then began this year 2-3. That's the carryover factor at work.
8. In the final segment, Cerrato was asked to provide his keys to the Oakland game. Here they are.
"Well, I think this, I think consistency," he said. "I think to build on what we did last week offensively, and to continue the young guys not up and down, just the consistency, and to continue to build and grow on what they did the week before. So for Devin and Fred to have better games than they did the week before. For Malcolm, Marko and some of the other young guys to continue and improve upon what they did and to make more plays. So if we can continue to do that, then I think that'll keep us progressing offensively.
"And for Jason to continue to progress and protect the football. And what we've got to do is they have a very good defensive front, what we've got to do is we've got to protect up front, and we've got to be able to run the ball. So it'll be a challenge for us in that aspect. And our receivers are gonna have to do a good job getting open against press coverage, because they're gonna line up in your face and try to press you and we've got to do a good job getting off press.
"And defensively, disrupt that quarterback. He's been in a rhythm, they've won some games the last few weeks, so we've got to disrupt Gradkowski and get some turnovers, get some pressure on him, and stop their run. They've got Fargas, they've got McFadden, they've got some running backs, so we've got to be able to stop the run.
"And we can't give up big plays. We've got to play physical, we've got to play passionate, we've got to play with energy like we have been over the last month or so. If we can continue to do that, then I think we'll do well. And you know what, in the kicking game, don't give up the big play, and hopefully when Graham Gano gets the opportunity to kick, he makes the field goal."
So those are your keys.
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