A friend of mine asked me this morning, "What do you think of Cable?"
"I'm not sure," I said. I shrugged my shoulders and replied, "We'll see."
Truth is that I don't know what to make of Tom Cable. When he was promoted after the Kiffin firing, I didn't know anything about him. I found out that he had been an offensive linemen and I figured the protection would get better.
It didn't. Then I wondered if maybe the team would play harder.
They didn't. Not at first.
That's the tricky thing about Cable as the head coach. You don't really know what to think. Do you judge him by the entire season or do you judge him by the last few games? The Raiders certainly seemed to be playing good football when the season ended.
There were a couple games early in Cable's tenure where I honestly thought the team didn't fight very hard, and I assumed that the players didn't respect Cable. Then, DeAngelo Hall got cut. Gutsy move. That's how you run a team. You put everyone on notice that you have to perform.
Which brings me to my next question: Who decided to cut Hall? Certainly, the head coach is given that responsibility, but I have to admit I just don't know what goes on with the Raiders.
I am not a lifelong fan, and I keep hearing that Al Davis calls plays, Al Davis makes all decisions, Al Davis rules like a petulant tyrant and does not tolerate insolence from his subordinates.
It all seems a bit surreal to me; that this old guy up in the owners box still has the energy and drive to continue to micro-manage an NFL roster, the coaches, and, hell, probably even the trainers.
What Al says goes. That's the mantra in Oakland.
Most people in the press expected Cable to be replaced at the end of the season. And then he wasn't. So I'm starting to wonder if maybe there's a lot more to Tom Cable than meets the eye. He was, after all, calling plays at the end of the season.
I like the fact as an old linemen he can command respect from his players. He's been in the muck and fought the same battles he's asking his players to fight. They've spilled blood in the same mud. The modern athlete should respect a guy who's been there, done that. With Kiffin, well, you know.
You see, I don't believe head coaches have to be geniuses like Holmgren, Shannahan, or any of those guys that get that reputation. I think the head coach's main job is managing his coaches and players.
Ultimately, the players have to have faith in the head man. They have to buy into his philosophy. Finally, they have to play for the guy.
I hope Coach Cable feels like I do about player personnel decisions. I see too often that coaches come into a situation and try to plug players into their system. It doesn't work like that. You have to build a system around the players that you have. You can't fit a square peg into a round hole.
It seems like common sense, but you see a lot of NFL coaches stubbornly trying to force their philosophy on a team without having the players to run that system.
It's a tricky job.
You have all these men, making millions of dollars playing a kids game, and they're not used to being held accountable. Hell, most of modern society doesn't like to be held accountable. The people I work with hate to be criticized.
Certainly, highly paid athletes with entourages full of sycophants don't like it. Can Cable get through to these guys? I don't know. We'll see. I'm betting that he does though.