Oakland Raiders: Is The Losing Really All Tom Cable's Fault?
Tom Cable is four games into his second full season as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. The honeymoon is clearly over, and many in Raider Nation are calling for his head.
When you're 1-3, it's difficult to defend the head coach. That isn't what I'm trying to do.
There have been a lot of writers and fans suggesting that Cable should be let go due to the poor performance of the Raiders thus far in 2010.
Upon reading articles from my Bleacher Report colleagues, most of which I respect a great deal and consider friends, I felt compelled to forgo writing my weekly game plan article to write this.
I have no problem citing Cable's failures, but I do not agree with blaming him for things that are not his doing. I feel it's critical to determine what is, and what isn't, Cable's fault to set the record straight.
Let's have a look at what Cable should be blamed for, and for what he is being wrongly criticized...
Poor Run Defense
Yes, the Raiders are ranked 31st against the run. But, how much of that is Cable's fault?
Last I checked, Cable's experience is on the offensive line, not the defense.
The Raiders have a defensive line coach, a linebackers coach, a defensive backs coach, and a defensive coordinator. These are the men that should be held accountable for bad defensive play.
Cable is not coaching the defensive players to miss tackles, miss reads, or to use poor fundamentals. The defensive coaches are. Cable doesn't call the soft zones on every obvious running down, John Marshall does.
At some point, the head coach has to be able trust his assistants. Cable's assistants are letting him down with respect to the run defense.
Why are we blaming Cable for this?
Poor Wide Receiver Play
The Raiders' wide receivers have not been very consistent, or anywhere near as good as they need to be. Is this entirely on Cable?
Sanjay Lal is the wide receiver coach, not Tom Cable. Lal has done nothing to improve the play at the wide receiver position since coming to Oakland in 2007.
I have called for the dismissal of Lal since mid-season in 2007. To be kind, Lal is a joke as an NFL assistant.
Cable isn't coaching Louis Murphy to allow the ball to get to his body, or Darius Heyward-Bey to jump for the catch when he doesn't need to, and he isn't teaching any of them to not protect the ball.
Lal is responsible for all of this, not Cable.
Poor Safety Play
In my opinion, Michael Huff is the worst tackling safety in the entire league, and Tyvon Branch has shown an inability to cover receivers.
Shouldn't the defensive backs coach be correcting these deficiencies, rather than the head coach?
Upon watching a replay of the Texans game from last week, my thoughts on Huff are confirmed.
Huff doesn't deserve to start for any team. He should be used only on obvious passing downs as he is great in coverage—but that's it.
It's time to see what Mike Mitchell or Stevie Brown can do with the starting job. Will Al Davis allow this? Who knows?
I do know that Cable doesn't coach the defensive backs and shouldn't be held solely responsible for their failures.
Dick Vermeil once said something to the effect of—it's more effective to build a system around the talent of your players than it is to force players into a system that doesn't fit their skills.
Truer words were never spoken.
The Raiders have a bunch of 3-4 linebackers in a 4-3 system. They have a bunch of power blocking offensive linemen in a zone blocking system.
This is destine to fail.
The bulk of the blame for this must be placed on Al Davis. Everyone knows that Davis gets the players he wants, and that the players he wants to play are the ones that play.
Tom Cable is not without some blame for this, but it's not all on him.
Poor Special Teams Play
John Fassel is the special teams coach, not Cable.
Fassel is responsible for stopping big punt and kick returns. He has failed.
Fassel is the coach that is supposed to see flaws in Sebastian Janikowski's technique and fix it—before he has a game like the one against the Cardinals. Again, he has failed.
Why are we blaming Cable for this?
The Worst Offensive Line In The NFL
This is one area that Cable does deserve a lion's share of the blame.
He's a former offensive line coach, he was tasked with rebuilding this line, and he has failed miserably. But, is it entirely his fault?
No. Offensive line coach Jim Michalczik should shoulder some of the responsibility as well.
Cable should get about 90 percent of the blame for poor offensive line play, with Michalczik taking on the other 10.
Most of the issue here is personnel—personnel that Cable and Davis have brought in.
They have converted Mario Henderson from defensive tackle to offensive tackle and have him at the most important spot on the offensive line—bad move.
Then, they took Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell in the draft as tackles, but both are playing elsewhere. Why?
Finally, Cable keeps insisting that Cooper Carlisle continues to start. Again, bad move. Carlisle is the worst lineman on the team and doesn't even belong on the practice squad.
It's time to see if Alex Parsons, Daniel Loper, (who has played well for the injured Robert Gallery), Bruce Campbell, and Jared Veldheer can make the grade.
The fact is, these young players can't do any worse than the guys that are in there now.
Another area that is mostly Cable's fault is penalties.
Discipline, or the lack thereof, is the biggest contributor to a team being, or not being penalized. Instilling discipline is the head coach's job—Cable is not getting this done.
This is the only area of Raider failure I will lay solely on Cable.
When Cable first took over the team, the penalties actually dropped. This was due to him instilling accountability. He held the players accountable for their actions.
I don't know where that went, but he has to get it back.
There is no excuse for this and it has to change if the Raiders want to win in the future.
Something to Ask Yourself
If all the things that are going wrong in Oakland are entirely Tom Cable's fault, then shouldn't he get credit for the things that have gone right?
The offense is scoring more than they have in years, but fans give all the credit to Hue Jackson. By that logic, the defensive problems should be put on John Marshall—shouldn't they?
Everyone is so quick to blame Cable for the poor run defense, horrible punt and kick coverage, and the bad offensive line play—but, no one is willing to accept the fact that none of the improvements we see started until Cable took over.
Why is that?
Last season, the fans were up in arms about Cable taking on too much responsibility by being the offensive play caller and head coach at the same time.
This season the fans are up in arms about Cable not doing enough.
Make up your mind!
We can safely blame Cable for the penalties and lack of discipline, for the majority of the bad offensive line play, and for some of the personnel decisions. However, we can't blame him for everything, which seems to be the prevailing theme in Raider Nation.
Cable is not coaching the safeties, the wide receivers, the linebackers, or the special teams.
One of the keys to being a successful head coach is the ability delegate to the coaching staff.
If that staff fails to do its job, we can't place all the blame on the head coach, unless—the head coach is the one that hires his staff. Cable is not one of those head coaches—Al Davis hires all the coaches.
So, who is to blame for the Raiders continuing to lose? EVERYONE!
Football is the ultimate team game. It takes 53 players and 20 or more coaches to be successful in the NFL. The head coach cannot win—or lose—all by himself.
If you agree, let me know. If you don't agree, tell me why. Let me hear you in the comments.
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