How long will saying, “Yes, sir, Mr. Davis” be enough to save Tom Cable’s job as Raiders coach?
Certainly, Cable has done nothing to merit retention. He’s a buffoon, making postgame comments that would be embarrassing to an intelligent person. One sign of his lack of intelligence: His pretending that Michael Bush might play in the Raiders’ opener in Tennessee. Bush had a fractured thumb on the hand he uses to carry the ball and a cast on the thumb. Everybody knew that. Do you think the Titans spent a minute of practice time on him?
Yet, if this clown coaches five more games, he will have the longest tenure of any Raiders coach since Jon Gruden. Bill Callahan lasted two years before going off to Nebraska. Norv Turner also had two years; with good talent and no owner meddling, Turner has been successful as the coach of the San Diego Chargers.
Cable replaced Lane Kiffin four games into the 2008 season and went 4-8 the rest of the way. Last year, the Raiders were 5-11, extending their NFL record for consecutive seasons with double digit losses to seven.
Yet, in training camp, Cable brought out T-shirts for the players proclaiming that they were going to win the AFC West and then the Super Bowl!
Can we say “high school?” Al Davis is notorious for his slogans — he’s still pushing the “Team of the Decades” nonsense — but these T-shirts were Cable’s idea. That’s his mental and emotional level, which is why nobody but his alma mater, Idaho, for whom he went 11-35 in four seasons, ever thought of him as a head coach before.
Cable has kept his Raiders job by resolutely following Davis’s lead. It seemed last season that he was bucking Davis by benching JaMarcus Russell, but subsequent events have shown that Davis was fed up with Russell, too.
Ultimately, the problem with the Raiders goes back to Davis and his poor evaluation of talent, not to mention his constant meddling. The coaches wanted to cut defensive safety Mike Mitchell, a second-round goof in 2009, but Davis insisted he stay.
He doesn’t like to admit mistakes.
Despite the offseason talk about improvement, in their first game, the same old flaws showed up for the Raiders.
The biggest problem is the offensive line, which simply can’t protect the quarterback. The newly acquired Jason Campbell had the same problems Russell had, being overwhelmed by quick Tennessee pass rushers and fumbling the ball. Bruce Gradkowski is probably a better choice because he can scramble away from the constant pressure. But Cable won’t dare make that change without Davis’ approval.
Once, Davis knew how to evaluate offensive linemen, drafting Hall of Famers Gene Upshaw and Art Shell and trading for Bob Brown and Ron Mix.
Now, he not only makes mistakes, but repeats them. Langston Walker didn’t do the job the first time he was with the Raiders, but Davis brought him back this year!
Without a good offensive line, no quarterback can succeed. No coach can, either. But Davis needs a fall guy, so he’ll probably let Cable last through another double-digit loss season before firing him. The more things change ...
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on www.GlennDickey.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.