You’ve been reading about it, hearing about it, and probably anticipating it, but you can stop wasting your time–because Tom Cable will be the Raiders’ head coach in 2010. All of it!
Al Davis may, or may not be, a lot of things, but he’s not quick to pull the trigger on a coaching hire in the absence of special circumstances. Those special circumstances have only reared their head a few times and this is not one of them.
So what are the special circumstances? You have to either have lost the confidence of your team a la Bill Callahan or Art Shell (the second time), or he has to really, really dislike you a la Mike Shanahan or Lane Kiffin.
While Cable might not have had a great season in his rookie year as head coach, he wasn’t inept and the team continued to work and play hard throughout the season’s final minutes. Most importantly, Al Davis likes Cable. It helps that his head coach has done all the right things in terms of handling the media and the fact that he’s publicly stated several times that he’s always wanted to be a Raider.Davis isn’t going to hold the non-development of JaMarcus Russell against Cable. After all, if Russell can’t develop under Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett, all signs point to the player and not the head coach. Besides, the Raiders have already gone through several baby sitters for the former number one pick due to their inability to keep him from getting off track.
The biggest sign of Cable being the Raiders’ coach in 2010 is the new additions to the coaching staff. Both coaches, Mike Waufle and Hugh Jackson, were fellow coaches with Cable at Cal. You can bet that Cable had a major influence on getting the two hired. This is HIS staff and for 2010, it will be HIS team too.
There were plenty of skeptics, myself included, about Cable’s first draft last year. Looking back on it now, it’s not looking so bad. Darrius Heyward-Bey is still a bust from the first round and sixth-round pick Stryker Sulak wasn’t good enough to catch on anywhere, but the other five picks made contributions and have bright futures. Mike Mitchell (second round), Matt Shaugnessy (third round), Louis Murphy (fourth round), Slade Norris (fourth round), and Brandon Myers (sixth round) all proved they could play a little in 2009.
Seven picks and all but one should be with the team in 2010. Of the six still with the silver and black, only Slade Norris will have to show improvement in training camp to make the final roster. Not bad, not bad at all.
Where things don’t turn in Coach Cable’s favor is in the statistics. The Raiders lost one more game by 20+ points in 2009 (6) than they did in 2008 (5), the offense gained fewer yards per game (266.1 in 2009 to 272.2 in 2008), and the defense allowed more yards per game (361.9 in 2009 to 360.9 in 2008).
Cable’s biggest shortcoming, and probably the biggest reason for the Hugh Jackson hiring, was the decrease in points for his offense. In 2008, the Raiders scored 263 points, but in 2009 they only mustered a lowly 197 for the season–an average of only 12.3 points per contest.
Despite all of that, when you look around the league, it’s common for coaches to struggle through poor seasons and emerge with playoff runs. Did anybody pick the Bengals to win their division at the beginning of the season? I can tell you that I was surprised that Marvin Lewis was still roaming the sidelines to start the season.
Well, don’t be surprised when we’re getting Cable’s explanation come April on why he selected another player we weren’t expecting. Besides being sure that it will be Cable’s team in September, I’m also sure we’ll be scratching our heads again after the draft.