Before I get into what I think of Tom Lee Cable, hereafter TLC, as the new head coach of the Oakland Raiders, let me address ALL YOU EXPERTS, hereafter AYE, out there, who have an opinion on TLC...Shut your face...All of it!!!!
How many of you geniuses predicted the Arizona Cardinals to be playing in the Super bowl this year? For those of you who did so, feel free to chime in. The rest of you, get another job! In the real world, if you don’t do your job properly, you get fired.
Onto the matter at hand, “Is TLC the answer to Oakland’s recent woes?”
Let’s preface this answer with a fact not lost on any head coach in any sports league—one person is NOT the answer, but only part of the solution.
Let's begins with addressing qualities one looks for in a head coach.
Does he come from a successful coaching tree? Frankly, coaching trees foretell “Jack”, as in what these aforementioned AYE know. For every disciple of Bill Walsh, like Mike Holmgrem, there are disciples of Bill Belichick, like Romeo Crennel. Point made, let’s move on.
Does he have any experience coaching at the pro level? Head coaching, TLC is 4-8. Check, lest you forget Mike Shanahan’s record (8-12) before he and Al parted ways.
Does he have a strong work ethic? He’s been coaching for more than 20 years straight, check.
Does he garner respect from his players? His players to a man have not said anything to the contrary. They admire his straight talk and his “you play well or sit down cuz I don’t care what your name is.”
Does he handle pressure well? Check, come on, let's recap his 2008. He is working on a staff that is walking on eggshells all offseason because “Lance” and Al can’t do nice. Without notice, he wows AL and gets the job of “Interim Head Coach” (A.K.A. good luck keeping the title past this season) from arguably the most hands-on owner in the NFL.
After leapfrogging his offensive coordinator for the top job, he takes over play calling duties. And before the season ends, his O-line coach jumps onto the “Lance” staff in Tennessee. To close out the season, his team KO’s Tampa for the playoffs and Chucky from his job.
Let’s now take a look at his strengths and weaknesses. TLC’s biggest strength is without a doubt – humility. That’s right, humility. In 1987, when it was clear that he would not cut it as an NFL player with the Indianapolis Colts, he quickly turned his attention to coaching. It takes someone who can self assess, admit reality, and act accordingly.
Next, is his passion for the game but even more so for “his” team and “lifelong dream to coach the Oakland Raiders”. He also knows how to communicate, whether it’s teaching the intricacies of O-line play, ripping his O-line coach for quitting or not saying a word during his state of limbo.
His weaknesses, just ask him, he’ll tell you straight up. His naysayers will talk about his losing record at Idaho (see Mike Shanahan reference above) or not using his three-headed rushing monster of D Mac, Fargas and Bush correctly (were they ever all healthy at the same time?).
They will throw in some game strategies like attempting a fake field goal that possibly cost them the Chiefs game (weren’t they saying “no originality” they NEVER use trick plays-BTW more times than not, these trick plays actually worked like the onside kick, Bush HB pass etc.).
And of course the leisurely development of JaMarcus as a leader/passer (without question, he looked his best under TLC). There are others just like these, but they too are easily dismissed to waste time and energy.
As for the 2009 season, what should we expect from T.L.C. and his Raiders? There will always be challenges and with them opportunities to overcome so I’ll address that question in a follow up.
In the meantime, AYE, consider yourselves fired!