Raiders losing it eight games after Super Bowl

Updated: November 3, 2003, 7:32 PM ET
ESPN

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Rod Woodson jokingly offered up the idea of hanging a suggestion box outside Oakland's practice facility for anybody who thinks they can solve the mess the Raiders are in.

The team's other Woodson, four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson, is at the center of the turmoil -- the off-field stuff anyway. Twice in five days he publicly criticized second-year coach Bill Callahan, saying Callahan is stubborn and has lost control of his team, and that the Raiders are falling apart.

On Monday, Callahan called the comments "inappropriate and inaccurate."

"As long as he comes here to 1220 Harbor Bay, he'll find the team," Rod Woodson said in a nearly empty Raiders locker room. "I'm pretty sure you can't lose 53 guys. We're not playing hide-and-seek here. You never quit playing, because you play for each other."

He claims "there is no internal grumbling," but apparently changed his stance upon learning Callahan and Charles Woodson haven't spoken in a month.

If Oakland hasn't imploded already, the team seems on the brink of major disaster only eight games removed from its Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay. Callahan insists he isn't worried about his job security and that he still has all faith in his coaching philosophy and the strength of his staff.

But owner Al Davis certainly isn't going to put up with pathetic play and conflicting egos.

Things became significantly worse Sunday when the Raiders lost 23-13 at Detroit, losing their backup-turned-starting quarterback in the process. Marques Tuiasosopo partially tore a ligament his left knee while filling in for injured 2002 MVP Rich Gannon, and the Raiders will likely turn to third-stringer Rick Mirer this week to face the New York Jets. They were beat up enough already.

"I mean, we lost one game now to the Detroit Lions, who coach says was an outstanding football team," Rod Woodson said. "So, I guess the Jets are going to be -- whoooo -- they might be going to the Super Bowl."

The Raiders have reached record lows. They are all but out of the playoff race after a 2-6 start, their worst start since beginning 1-6-1 in 1964. They appear to be losing faith in each other and their coaches.

"I'm just the spokesperson," Charles Woodson said after Sunday's setback. "The more you talk to other guys, you'll understand where I'm coming from. I wasn't appointed, but I just felt that it was time."

What made him speak out?

"We're 2-6, how much longer can we wait?" he said.

Some players say CharlesWoodson and Callahan desperately need to sit down and talk. There are still eight games to go and if the disorder isn't rectified soon, Woodson might just boil over every Sunday night the rest of the way.

Callahan said he will deal with the situation at the appropriate time. His office door is always open to players, he said.

"I'm going to continue to just emphasize how I'm going to manage this program," Callahan said. "I'm a firm believer in the way and the course that we're headed in. I will not waver one ounce. I'm going to continue to function the way I always have. I do communicate well, and I always felt that as a coach I try to enhance my communication skills with the team and talk to the team honestly and openly.

"Sometimes it's brutally honest and sometimes it hurts them a little bit. ... I'm not going to give in to the negativity, and I'm not going to fuel negativity with Charles Woodson.

"I think it takes away from what I believe in, and that's the integrity of this game, and I've made it a point as the head coach, as the leader of this team, not to publicly criticize my players. And I won't. ...

"What goes on within the realm of the four walls of the team meeting room, I've always felt stays in that room."

In this case, Rod Woodson doesn't believe that's the best approach.

"Well, it's like this is your home," he said. "He has 53 kids. You don't ignore 53 kids. It's not right. I wouldn't ignore my daughter for a month."

Other teams know how vulnerable -- and beatable -- these Raiders are, but that they still have potential to salvage their season.

"Oakland still has a great team on paper, but right now they're in trouble," Detroit running back Olandis Gary said Monday. "They've got people talking about their coach in the papers. That's not good.

"But they started off bad last year, and during that time, I remember them kicking us around last year when I was in Denver. They still have a lot of talent, so there's still time for them to have a good year."

Several players have come to Callahan's defense and taken responsibility for the Raiders' ugly performances. But with both Charles and Rod Woodson working as critics, who knows how long it'll be before they all start turning on the man in charge.

"There's a lot going on," Jerry Rice said Monday. "Sometimes you have to address situations and try to resolve it. We're basically behind Bill Callahan."

For the reeling Raiders, "basically" might not be enough.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index