After what must be classified as yet another disappointing season, the Oakland Raiders stand once again at a crossroads. Little within the organization remains stable, and that includes the two most important positions on the team—head coach and quarterback.
In order to go forward, we need to know where we are going, and who with.
I don’t think that anyone would like to put their house on whether Tom Cable will return next year as head coach or not, JaMarcus Russell is on the bench and out of favour, and Bruce Gradkowski is a free agent at the end of the year.
The head coach and quarterback questions need answering as soon as possible.
It may be on Sunday that the team is playing for Cable’s job, or it may be that this decision has already been made. Either way, how this team performs against a Baltimore Ravens team with everything to play for will say a lot about them. They have shown a brand of tenacity and pride already this season that has been sadly lacking in years past, and a win would give them a 6-10 record.
Not much on the face of it, but it would be the best record the franchise has had since 2002-03.
The revolving door of coaches since then has been a hugely negative force within the team, and players have struggled to reach their potential due to the lack of continuity surrounding coaching styles and systems.
In a recent poll on the Bleacher Report, more than two-thirds of fans thought Cable should stay at least for an extra year. Cable clearly has the locker room with him, and he also has solid if not overwhelming support from the Raider Nation. Maybe Cable was right when he said that this team would be in the playoffs with even average play at quarterback, maybe not. But this team would certainly have been better.
One more win? Two? Three? I don’t know, but it would have at least brought us back to respectability.
The other question to ask is if Cable gets fired, who replaces him?
A huge factor here is that over the last six years the Oakland Raiders have been a coaches graveyard, and the list of candidates for the job will consist mainly of retreads or the unproven and underqualified.
So my plea to Al Davis is to give this organization some stability by making it clear where we are going as soon as possible. At the end of the season, announce that Cable will be here next year, and sign Bruce Gradkowski to a new contract (plus pay him some decent money). That way the whole team gets some stability and focus for next year.
Pay the quarterback who produced for us, and make sure we hang on to him.
Once that is done, we can start sorting out the run defense and the offensive line.
And finally, a very happy new year to all those in the Raider Nation, and I hope this year is better than the last.