One week ago, the Oakland Raiders were looking at their last week of the 2010 football season. A fan of the Raiders could look at the season as one that got away and looking at the Kansas City game, might take some of the sting out of going 8-8.
As it was, someone forgot to tell Kansas City and the Chiefs that these Raiders were angry. They were cheated and they wanted something to mark this season.
After 60 minutes of football last Sunday, the Raiders went out on a high note, throttling the Chiefs in their own stadium, where they had previously not lost.
Matt Cassel was harassed to no end, to the point his coach elected to pull the quarterback before he really got hurt—but not before he threw two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.
That evening, there were already messages floating on the airwaves, across the Internet that Tom Cable was slated to be let go.
Here was a popular coach, a friend of the family, if you will. He had tolerated JaMarcus Russell's immaturity issues and dealt with being demoted to a degree with Hue Jackson coming on board.
But the team had responded, with the club picking up three more wins and lasting until the second-to-last week, before being eliminated from the playoffs. Much better than Week 9 or 10, right?
At 8-8, what does this mean for the 2011 Raiders?
Apparently, this still didn't set right with Al Davis, who must have taken offense to Cable's, "We are not losers anymore," when to Al, the Raiders are never losers. Reaching 8-8 was not a part of the plan Al had in place—he wanted the playoffs.
It didn't matter to Al that Janikowski missed three field goals in Arizona, or that a Jacksonville player was given a touchdown by biased refs...to him, Raiders had to be in the playoffs.
No playoffs, no option for Tom.
So, the news came quickly, which was a bit of a shock, to the Raider Nation. People who were calling the media liars and rumor mongers were now looking for any reason why.
There was also some finger-pointing, as the 49ers had tapped Hue Jackson for an interview, more than likely to satisfy the "Rooney Rule," rather than a person who would have skills to take over a team in his own right as head coach. Al wished Hue luck, then looked at Cable.
Cable was probably a dead man walking in the building, but you had to think, did he know it was going to happen?
Here was a coach who wanted to be a Raiders coach. He always wanted to be one.
For Al, apparently want and an 8-8 season just wasn't enough.
During the next three days, rumors around Hue Jackson circulated, from one at The Chronicle saying it was a done deal to another stating that Hue was interviewing with the 49ers on Wednesday, to even one saying he was heading to Alameda. Fans now were dealing with three different feelings.
One set of feelings was still screaming at Al, "How could you get rid of Cable?" The second set saying, "When are you going to sign Hue?" Until the last set, screaming, "Hurry up and sign Hue before the Broncos do!" Things with the Raiders players were of the same nature.
Some players felt very strongly for Tom Cable. Shane Lechler, Robert Gallery, Michael Bush and others were shocked to learn that this coach, who had lasted longer than any since Gruden, was gone.
To a degree, I had to wonder if it was a similar feeling that players felt when John Madden elected to finally leave the game. To that degree, true, John Madden simply walked away from the game, while Tom was pushed; but I can imagine that Al wanted like mad to keep Madden, while Cable wanted like mad to stay with the team he had built.
Likewise, I can imagine the players, who developed under the two coaches, thinking, "There goes the neighborhood."
Gallery, as mentioned, went from a bust to potentially one of the team's best offensive linemen. Michael Bush, this offseason a free agent, was lucky enough to see his limited time parlayed into a good opportunity if he hits the free agent market.
Lechler's comments, strong enough to probably warrant a visit from the "crypt keeper," stated it best, mentioning that he's tired of seeing so many coaches. I can not say I blame him, either.
As of this time, most of the media are now saying that the Raiders will sign Hue Jackson. One can only hope that all this predicting doesn't make Al veer off in a different direction.
Here's to hoping that Al Davis keeps Hue Jackson, keeps the team moving in the right direction and hopefully Hue Jackson keeps Cable's mindset intact in the young Raiders the team now has.
The future can look bright...if Al doesn't do any more damage.