Is Tom Cable The Next Great Raider Coach?
He just may be.
Raider Nation has ranted and raved over the draft this year and rightfully so. The influx of talent over the last couple seasons minus the quarterback bust has given Oakland fans reason to do so.
The Raiders have brought in talent before but with mixed results, going through superstars like Randy Moss without an improvement.
The losing continues and the players move on. Moss left Oakland and went on to break records in New England.
So what went wrong for the Raiders?
They didn't have the coaching that knew how to use the talent presented to them.
It could be argued that Moss didn't have a quarterback to get him the ball, but it was much more than that. Andrew Walter was a talented kid with a big arm, but he was shell-shocked in a dysfunctional offense.
Former head coach Art Shell hired Tom Walsh, man that ran a bed and breakfast for 10-plus years prior to his hiring, as offensive coordinator. The offense that he installed was both archaic and predictable. Modern NFL defenses laughed while destroying the constant seven step drops with two receivers running routes.
Shell brought in Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jackie Slater to coach the offensive line. But playing and teaching are two different things. Slater struggled, finding it hard to adapt to the modern game
Has anyone heard from him coaching on the NFL level again?
I haven't and there must be a reason for it.
Then there is defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. I actually thought he was good at first. But that changed. When asked about blitzing, Ryan once told defensive lineman Warren Sapp, "We can't do that around here."
We still don't know if Lane Kiffin can coach, but what transpired during his stay shows that he clearly can't be a Raider coach. Most coaches don't have what it takes to be a Raider coach.
So what does it take to work with such a hands on owner?
Let's take a look at some of the coaches that succeeded in Raider Nation to find out.
Hall of Fame coach John Madden compiled a record of 103-32-7. His winning percentage of .759 is the highest ever among coaches with over 100 wins. He validated his incomparable record by leading the 1976 Raiders to a championship.
Tom Flores was another great Raider coach. He had an accumulative winning percentage of .527. However he doubled Madden's championships with Super Bowl wins to finish the 1980 and 1983 seasons.
Jon "Chucky" Gruden was only with the Raiders from 1998 to 2001 but still made an impact. He was robbed of a Super Bowl trip in 2001 during the infamous "Tuck Rule Game" before departing for Tampa the next season where he would beat the team he created to get his well deserved championship in 2002.
So what was the common denominator of these three men?
These three men were able to get through to team owner Al Davis. Davis has an affinity for the deep ball and four man rushes with man coverage.
I often chuckle when commentators speak of how Davis doesn't have it anymore. They would say that consistant deep balls don't work any more.
Did it ever?
The NFL has never seen a team win a championship with a steady diet of deep balls. The constant deep balls only won AFL championships.
Daryl Lamonica was exciting but he never won a Super Bowl. Lamonica was in no way at fault but living by the deep ball can cause you to die by the deep ball.
The Raider's great coaches were able to convince Al Davis to mix in a short, ball controll passing attack with less shots down the field. The blitz on defense was added as well.
Madden was first to get Davis to budge. The result was the aforementioned record along with his Super Bowl victory.
Flores followed suit. He would then bring two Lombardi trophies to Raider nation.
It would then take almost two decades for Davis reach another Super Bowl. Gruden wasn't there for the Raiders last trip to the Super Bowl but he did lay the foundation. Besides, he was too busy beating the Raiders in that Super Bowl.
Cable just might be the next great Raider head coach. The fact that he's still in Raider Nation says a great deal. He looks to have the necessary qualities.
He has the hard-nosed approach of Madden and Gruden. To go with that, he has the look. Most importantly, he has shown the ability to work Davis.
Davis is just a man who has his ways. If those ways don't work, a Raider coach has to have guts to present changes and they must be effective. Otherwise, the coach will be on his way out like Shell.
A Raider coach must also have patience. Davis may reject anything you present at first but the coach must be willing to stay the course. Butting heads with him will get you fired for "cause" and you might not get paid. That's what happened to Mike Shanahan and Kiffin.
It took over half the season, but Cable convinced Davis to play Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback. The Raiders won a few games with Gradkowski and it became obvious that Davis had a bust on his hands.
Cable then went to bat for defensive coordinator John Marshall. Marshall was then able to use his 4-3 hybrid scheme and the Raiders were able to shut down some pretty prolific offenses while getting a few wins.
Davis is still a football genius but all geniuses have a tragic flaw. Constant deep balls and vanilla defenses are his.
The Raiders had wins over good teams toward the end of last year. The reason is that Cable showed that he had the guts to save the genius from himself.
Cable's moves allowed Davis to see that the Raiders can win ball games without No. 1 pick JaMarcus Russell at quarterback. His moves also showed Davis how well the defense could play using modern schemes.
Davis responded by trading for Washington quarterback Jason Campbell. He also went out and got pass rushing outside linebacker\ defensive end types in Kameron Wimbley and Quentin Groves to fit Marshall's hybrid scheme.
Davis appears to have made all the right moves. From the looks of things, the coaches will be able to use the schemes that worked toward the end of last season.
If the Raiders can turn things around this season, it will be a step toward Cable being the next great Raider coach.
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