Tom Cable might not be the offensive line coach this year, but if you think his hands are not in the middle of the situation, you are dead wrong. The O-Line in Oaktown will be his key to whether his team thrives or flops in a weak division.
Let's travel back in time for a moment if I may. In 2004, Oakland's rushing attack was abysmal. They ranked dead last in the league in yards gained (1295) and tied for 19th with only 10 rushing TDs.
The 2005 season, they finished 29th in the league in total rushing yards with 1,369. They managed one more TD, but the average yards per attempt went down from 4.0 to 3.8. They also fumbled 20 times, which is two more than the previous year.
Come 2006, things were looking very bleak. Seemingly all the guys from the Gruden days were gone, and the team in the middle of a major overhaul. It was the year of Art Shell's second coming.
The season was a complete flop. In the first game, they were shut out at home by San Diego, 27-0. Justin Fargas led the team in rushing with 5 carries for 35 yards.
Week 2, they managed two field goals at Baltimore. LaMont Jordan ran 19 times for 35 yards. Andrew Walter was 10-27 for 162 yards 0 TDs and 3 picks.
Enough with the flashbacks, I know it's painful. They started the season 0-5, and only won back to back games against...are you prepared...Arizona and Pittsburgh. How weird is that?
Once again, they were 29th in rushing with 1,519 yards. They scored a league low 5 rushing TD's and managed to fumble the rock 30 times, losing 21 of them.
In 2007, upon the entrance of Lane Kiffin, came new offensive line coach Tom Cable. The rushing game went from 29th to 6th in one season. They put up over 2,000 yards for the first time in seven years. Fargas had 1,009 yards, and Jordan added 500+ more to their tally. They improved the rushing TDs back up to 11.
In the 2000 season, seven years before Tom Cable and Lane Kiffin, they led the league in rushing, scoring the third most points, and ranked fifth in 1st down percentage.
So why not the same success in Cable's first year as O-Line coach? In 2000, they fumbled 8 times. In 2007, they fumbled 31 times.
If I've heard it once, I've heard it 1,000 times. When you have good success rushing the football, it opens up other things for your offense. Things like one on one coverage, and cheating safeties.
There is also an adage that states you cannot win when you turn the ball over. This has proven to be astoundingly true at all levels of football.
So who should we credit with the drastic improvement (aside from the fumbles) of the rushing attack from 2006 to 2007. Should it be Lane Kiffin or Tom Cable. Well, to each their own on this one, but to go from giving up 72 sacks in '06 to giving up 41 in '07, something has to be said for the O-line coach in my opinion.
Last year, the yards per carry increased from 4.1 to 4.3. The fumbling problem seemed to improve as we were down to 11 for the year. TDs decreased mildly from 11 to 9.
The problem with the 2008 season was that the head coach and owner were at war, and Kiffin ended up getting fired four games into the year. Not to mention that JaMarcus Russell played his first full season as a starter and the team only managed slightly over 148 yards per game through the air.
The reason why we as Raider Nation are holding out hope for this year is the running game. It all hinges on Shake, Rattle, and Roll, Tom Cable, new O-line coach Jim Michalczik, and the revamped offensive line that is, in my honest opinion, under the radar all-star quality.
That being said, let's take a look at some of the things we should expect from this year's offensive line, and new line coach Jim Michalczik