Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Can Tom Cable Keep Them Working Hard?

Second in a series evaluating the Raiders prior to the draft and 2010 season.
Position: Head Coach – Tom Cable

It may not mean much but Tom Cable has one distinction that offers hope for the Raiders future. He is the winningest coach in the Raiders post-Gannon era. Sure, being 9-19 (.321) is nothing to crow about but when one considers the circumstances he’s been presented with you have to wonder what he can accomplish if given a reasonable shot. Cleaning up after the Lane Kiffin mess, dealing with Randy Hanson and coaching JaMarcus Russell doesn’t make for an ideal circumstance. There are two very important reasons Cable may not be the perfect coach but the perfect coach for the Raiders.

Works well with Al Davis
Not since Art Shell Part I have the Raiders had a coach that worked as well with owner Al Davis. The team has alternated between incompetent yes men that did what they thought Davis wanted (see Joe Bugel, Norv Turner) and strong-willed rebels bent on trashing Raider tradition in the name of progress (see Mike Shannahan, Lane Kiffin). (Gruden had Bruce Allen as a buffer) Cable has managed to bring his own ideas to the table but in a way that shows respect to tradition and Davis.

A yes man would’ve rode QB JaMarcus Russell to a 2-14 season. Kiffin would’ve cut Russell in a media circus. Cable had every reason to bench Russell but showed his respect for Davis by talking it over with him first. The Raiders will only be successful as long as they have a coach that can work side-by-side with Davis. Davis has said he doesn’t want yes men but he does expect his coach to provide a level of respect. Cable has found that balance. Now he just needs the wins Davis also expects.

Works well with the players
After the Lane Kiffin debacle put the 2008 season in the scrapheap a strange thing happened. The team that has phoned it in after every Thanksgiving since 2003 kept playing hard. They ended 2008 by knocking Tampa Bay out of the playoffs and secured Cable’s hiring. The Russell-oriented meltdown to open 2009 could’ve been the end for Cable but his 2-7 team kept playing hard and finished a tough run 3-4.

Cable has kept his players motivated and that is huge in a franchise grown accustom to losing. If the Raiders are going to turn things around they’re sure to encounter setbacks. The man who handled the Randy Hanson incident as if it was another day at the office is equipped to handle any of the traditional growing pains coaches face.

Cable in 2010
Cable is a manager. In today’s NFL the Head Coach is less and less likely to act as play-caller, offensive coordinator and line coach. In 2010 Cable should be better able to manage the team as new Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson takes those duties off Cable’s plate. Expect to see Cable more hands-on with his offensive line after they took a step backward in 2009.

The Raiders need to get off to a fast start in 2010. Whatever locker room pearls he’s used to get his guys fired up in December will start to lose their luster if the team is just playing for pride, again.

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