Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here, but things in Oaktown seem have become a lot more sensible since this guy Tom Cable arrived.
It just seems that after five years of making bad decisions, we seem to be making, well...good ones.
It started with addition by subtraction. That is getting rid of that over hyped pain in the ass DeAngelo Hall at mid season.
Cutting him from the team, not just putting him on the bench was a productive and necessary thing to do. He couldn’t cover, and he couldn’t tackle, but even on the bench his appalling attitude would have been a distraction and a bad example to the promising young players on the team.
No doubt people will, and indeed have said, that it was Al’s call, not Cable’s. Regardless, the decision was still made, and it was a good one.
Once we got into the off season, things started to get even more sensible. Firstly, we re-sign our own free agents. That is the ones who performed well for us. We placed a value on special teams with the way we did that, getting the players who got the job done last year to stay on board.
John Condo, Isaiah Ekejuiba, Jon Alston, Ricky Brown, and Justin Miller are all now under contract for this year (although for some reason the team have not formally announced some of these signings).
This shows that Cable knows the contribution they made to what we did last year, and knew that resigning them was more important than going after big name free agents. Its good to have that kind of continuity on the team, it really is something we have missed in recent years.
No one thought we could hang onto Nnamdi Asomugha and Shane Lechler, yet we did.
It would have been nice to keep Jake Grove, who was an adequate, if not outstanding center. But at the money Miami were prepared to send his way, they were welcome to him.
Once again, a good decision refusing to overpay and average player in order to keep him. Next came the signing of Erik Pear. Oakland needs some competition at tackle, and Pear was a two-year starter with the Broncos.
Pear isn’t an overpriced free agent, he is a reasonably priced player who is a system fit for Cable’s zone blocking scheme. A "system fit" is all important, if he can’t play in our system, he would be of little value.
Then comes a real winner, in that we sign Khalif Barnes to a one year contract.
Now I’m not going to tell you that Barnes should have made the pro bowl last year, that isn’t the case, but he is an upgrade over what we had last year, and once again, is a system fit having had previous experience in a zone blocking offense.
In addition, we didn’t pay him the big bucks he and his agent wanted, Al called his bluff and let him walk after the first round of talks. He refused to pay him more than he thought he was worth.
Sure enough, Barnes and his agent came back and settled for less, and with a one year deal we haven’t committed our future to him as a starter. Even more than that, he said in the press that this year is his opportunity to make fresh start and prove himself this year, and if he did, he knew Al would look after him.
Now this is just vintage Al, the league’s best personnel guy, not only to convince Barnes to sign for less, but to make him grateful, and more motivated for the coming year. A motivated player, who is a system fit, and at what will be (when terms are announced) a bargain price.
And they say Al Davis hasn’t got it anymore? Don’t believe it.
As I said of Tom Cable all along, he is the kind of guy who can work with Al Davis, not against him. He has the humility not to have to take all the credit for everything, just like other successful coaches did in Oakland.
John Madden and Tom Flores were very similar in this respect. They knew Davis knew football and football players, and they used that instead of fighting against it.
After a promising end to last season, and a productive and sensible free agent period, I am looking forward to a productive draft. Some sound decisions there, and the Raiders are back competing for the AFC West.
Roll on April 25.