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New Regime in Oakland

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New Regime in Oakland
(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Most analysts predict failure for the 2009 Raiders. I suppose they wonder how this franchise can turn around a six year streak that has produced a league low 24 victories.

Most look at the recent actions from the managing general partner, the notorious Al Davis, as indication that this franchise remains stuck in their dreadful downward spiral. From the firing of yet another coach midway through last season to April’s NFL draft, many are asking what’s new.

What’s new is the leadership. Basically the entire coaching staff has been overhauled. As the Tom Cable era enters its first full season it is truly the beginning of a new regime.

Gone are the former head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, offensive line assistant, wide receivers coach, running backs coach, defensive coordinator, defensive line coach, linebackers coach, defensive backs coach and the special teams coordinator.

The captain of the ship is the California native Thomas Lee Cable Jr. and now that his interim tag has been removed he has employed a brand new crew to set the ship in the right direction. Here is a look at how Tom and his new cast of pirates were able to assume their new roles behind the eye patch.

Prior to his Tom Cable’s coaching career he played four seasons as an Idaho Vandal, starting three of them at guard under the tutelage of head coach Dennis Erickson. He also blocked for former Rams head coach Scott Linehan when he was the Vandals quarterback. Cable made it to the NFL when he signed on as an undrafted free agent with the Colts. His pro playing career lasted one season.

Cable brings 21 years of coaching experience to the table, a career that began at his alma mater as a graduate assistant in 1987. He served two years before accepting the same position at San Diego State. One year later Cable moved onto UNLV for another one year stint, this time as the line coach for the defense.

It was not until 1992 that Cable got the chance to start perfecting the art of coaching the position he actually played when he signed on to become the offensive line coach for the University of California Golden Bears. At Cal he coached under Steve Mariucci and during his six seasons in the position he produced four first-team All Pac-10 offensive linemen including a first team All-American.

Cable received his first coaching promotion when he moved onto the University of Colorado. After one season instructing the offensive line he was promoted to offensive coordinator. He led the Buffaloes offense to a top 15 ranking in the nation.

His leadership in Idaho was enough to grab the attention of his alma mater who presented Cable with his first head coaching opportunity. In four seasons as head coach he compiled an 11-35 record without a single season of .500 or above. However, his West Coast style offenses did accomplish two top 10 national rankings.

After being relieved of his duties at Idaho, Cable got his first chance to wear multiple hats as both the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at UCLA. In his first season he improved the Bruin rushing attack by over 1,000 yards and nearly doubled the number of touchdown passes. The next season his offense was 5th in the nation in scoring and his quarterback, Drew Olson, wiped out the school record for touchdown passes with 34.

Cable’s success at UCLA landed him his first pro coaching gig as the offensive line coach in Atlanta. In Atlanta Cable perfected the zone blocking scheme that he learned from Alex Gibbs during his time in Colorado. Gibbs implemented the scheme in Atlanta prior to Cable’s arrival. Cable’s line paved the way for the NFL’s leading rushing attack in 2006.

After one season in Atlanta, Cable was recruited by Lane Kiffin to fill the same position for the Raiders. In one season Cable helped improve the rush offense as their rank jumped from 29th to 6th after his arrival.

Four games into the 2008 season Lane Kiffin was fired after months of turbulence that dominated media reports. Al Davis promoted Cable to the interim head coaching position. Cable then led the team to four wins and eight loses.

While his record was not impressive, he did a tremendous job of turning around the mentality of a team in turmoil. He was able to get his players to play with heart and determination even after they were eliminated from the playoffs as they recorded back to back impressive victories to end the season.

A tremendous amount of the pressure for the Raiders to succeed is riding on the Cable guy’s shoulders as he will be juggling the responsibilities of head coach, offensive coordinator, and play caller.

Of course Cable is not alone on this ship as he clearly was determined to turnover the entire staff. If Cable is the captain one may determine that he has three first mates in new passing game coordinator Ted Tollner, quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett, and defensive coordinator John Marshall.

Ted Tollner attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he started at quarterback for two seasons. In 1960 he survived a plane crash that killed 16 teammates and six others associated with the university.

Since his near death experience he has gone on to accumulate 46 years of coaching experience at the high school, college, and professional levels. He has held the positions of head coach, offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, receivers coach, and tight ends coach.

He has experienced both ends of the success spectrum. In 1985 he coached the Pac 10 champion USC Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory, the highlight of Tollner’s coaching career.

In 2008 Tollner was named assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach of the 49ers in his second stint with the team. Despite instability at the quarterback position Tollner assisted the passing game on their way to ranking 13th in both passing yards and passing touchdowns.

As passing game coordinator for Oakland in 2009, Tollner inherits the massive responsibility of turning around the Raiders passing offense that ranked 32nd last season.

A primary factor that will determine the success of the passing game will be the continued development of 2007’s number one overall pick JaMarcus Russell. Paul Hackett is in charge of tutoring Russell and pushing him to the next level.

Hackett is another new coach with a great abundance of experience as he enters his 40th season as a coach at the collegiate and professional levels. His coaching career began at his alma mater, UC Davis, in 1969. Hackett started three seasons at quarterback during his time as a player at US Davis.

Like Tollner, Hackett’s resume is highlighted by many ups and downs. His record as an offensive coordinator in the NFL stands at 90-54. He has helped coach teams to many playoff appearances, division titles, and conference championships. In the last 15 years he has helped nine teams make the playoffs.

He also has served as head coach for USC and the University of Pittsburg, amassing a college coaching record of 32-38-1 with one bowl victory for Pittsburg.

Hackett’s offenses are known for protecting the rock. In his first season as quarterbacks coach in Tampa Bay in 2005 he helped turn around a turnover ratio by plus 16. As offensive coordinator of the Jets in 2004 his offense committed only 16 turnovers, the 5th lowest total in NFL history.

The high points of his coaching career were when he served on the coaching staffs of the 1978 national champion USC Trojans and the Super Bowl XIX champion 49ers.

Hackett was signed onto the Oakland coaching staff last season to assist with special projects before he was promoted to quarterbacks coach at the beginning of this offseason.

Tom Cable’s main man on the other side of the ball is new defensive coordinator John Marshall. Marshall is yet another coach who has over 40 years of experience in coaching. He is entering his 30th season as an NFL assistant coach.

Marshall’s college playing career at Washington State was cut short by a neck injury in 1964. Five years later his coaching career started at Hancock Junior College.

Oakland is the 5th team for which Marshall will coordinate the defense. In his most recent stint in Seattle the results were clear. His 2007 squad gave up the NFL’s fewest number of touchdown passes and ranked 4th in interceptions. His 2005 defense led the league in sacks allowed and only allowed one 100 yard rusher throughout that season in route to their loss in Super Bowl XL. 

In 1997 Marshall lead the 49ers defense to a number one ranking in the league. He led a complete defense that finished 2nd against both the pass and the rush.

His most successful seasons were as a member of the staff of two 49er Super Bowl teams and he also coached the linebackers on the same staff as Hackett for the 1978 national champion Trojans.

Marshall’s duty is to address the issues with last season’s 28th ranked rush defense. He has some talented players to work with and must implement the proper scheme to take advantage of their talents and shut down the run. The rush defense has been the Achilles heel of the Oakland Raiders during the worst six year period in franchise history.

Other important additions to the coaching staff are receivers coach Sanjay Lal, running backs coach Kelly Skipper, offensive line coach Jim Michalczik, defensive line coach Dwaine Board, linebackers coach Mike Haluchak, defensive backs coach Lionel Washington, and special teams coordinator John Fassel Jr.

It is up to this new regime to right the Raider’s ship in Oakland.

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