The Raiders are a respectable bunch and could finish 2010 with an undefeated season against AFC West opponents with a win versus the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead this Sunday.
Cable’s contract is up once the year is out, and speculation will begin right after about his future. But Oakland should act immediately and give their head coach a vote of confidence by locking him up and awarding him a new three-year contract.
“I know I like playing for that guy [Cable]. Everybody knows how this locker room feels about him,” said Robert Gallery, who found a niche at guard once Cable came on as offensive line coach in 2007.
It took some time for Cable to get his ship righted after being named interim coach when Lane Kiffin was jettisoned. He had to deal with an epic bust at quarterback, the constant looming dissatisfaction of his owner and the anchoring losing culture that has stalled this club for seven years.
Cable shook all that off and got this group of Raiders to believe. They threatened for a playoff spot and squandered many opportunities to seize their own destiny. Efforts versus San Francisco and Miami, and two blown 10-point leads against Jacksonville are condemning. Questions whether or not he can take this team to the next level are very valid.
But his tireless effort to bring this irrelevant franchise back to NFL respectability deserves its accolades.
“It would be a huge setback,” punter Shane Lechler stated, if Cable were to move on. “We’ve invested so much of our time and there’s been so much commitment starting from the day he took over. Not only this year. He had a plan. The plan is working. It would be a terrible disappointment if there was a change because he’s the guy for this job. This job is for a blue-collar, hard-nosed coach. That’s what we need.”
The work put in by Cable dates back to when he first arrived; when his first undertaking was revamping a unit that allowed a league high 72-sacks in 2006 and that managed a measly 94.9 rushing yards per game (29th in the NFL).
“He tells it like it is,” Miller said. “He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He’s honest with us. He tells us exactly how things are, what he needs from us, how he wants us to work, how he wants us to keep grinding as a football team and keep getting better.”
Cable succeeded in 2007, as the Raiders cut their sack totals to 41 and their rushing attack averaged 130.4 yards per game (6th in the NFL).
This year, Cable propelled rookie Jared Veldheer from a little known Division II school named Hillsdale to left tackle. That looks like a move that will pay dividends in the future.
At the end of the 2008 season, Cable was prophetic in stating, “I want to be the head coach of the Raiders, but it’s not in my hands. But I certainly know I put this team together and got it going in the right direction, and today proved that,” after the Raiders beat Tampa Bay 31-24, ending that year on a two-game winning streak.
It took vital happenings for Cable to reach this point.
Darren McFadden became a star, the quarterback position was upgraded with JaMarcus Russell’s departure and many solid personnel moves has infused talent, youth and leadership to the club.
What could be more important was the addition of Hue Jackson. The offensive coordinator help free up Cable, who was the play caller last season, and gave the Silver & Black a more dynamic and fresh look in 2010.
Jackson could be viewed as a candidate for some openings this off-season, and that could throw a wrench into the Raiders coaching equation. Many believe that Jackson is the coach in-waiting for the Silver & Black. So with Cable a free agent, some have speculated that Jackson could be elevated to head coach, especially if other teams show intense interest in his services.
Al Davis has rarely wrapped a lasso on assistants that have been presented with opportunities elsewhere. So if a team like Cincinnati has an opening, a possible spot where Jackson could land if Marvin Lewis is canned, Davis would have no reservations letting him go.
Jackson had one-year stints as a offensive coordinator in Washington and Atlanta before landing in Oakland this past campaign. There is no guarantee that he can do the same job with this group that Cable has done. And that unknown is too risky for a team like Oakland who already has begun going forward with Cable.
But could Davis cite negative variables against Cable and decide not to bring him back, in order to keep Jackson?
Other than Veldheer, and finding a spot for Gallery, Cable’s inability to stabilize the offensive line could be used against him. Failures with Kwame Harris, Mario Henderson and at times, a revolving door at center could hurt his case. Many times, how the team came out flat after victories in prior seasons and their inconsistent personality this year damaged their chances to make the playoffs, a goal that Davis had for this club when he compared them to a past great club of his.
“I really liken this team a great deal to the team of 1980, in which the great Jim Plunkett pulled us out of the doldrums, took us to the Super Bowl as a wild card, and we had so many great players who eventually made their way into the Hall of Fame,” Davis said in an interview with Sirius NFL Radio.
Then there is the Randy Hanson saga and ESPN’s reports uncovering some alleged history of violence towards women.
In all, Cable has done what has been asked of him. The players have responded, the club is no longer a joke and the team has begun campaigning for his return.
Through all the ups and downs, Cable has never rebelled, strayed away from the goal at hand and has remained loyal to Davis.
That’s a lot of things to handle, and he’s managed them well.
It’s only right Oakland brings him back for another few seasons to see if he can accomplish what has looked like mission impossible.
Contact Author: Victor Cotto – SB Report Columnist