Every year in Raider Nation Al Davis makes decisions that cause the average fan wonder, "what is he thinking? Is he thinking at all?"
Whether it's a questionable draft choice, (Darius Heyward-Bey and JaMarcus Russell come to mind) or the hiring of an inexperienced coach like Lane Kiffin, this is a recurring theme in Oakland.
This off-season, Davis fired head coach Tom Cable after Cable gave the team their best season since 2002, the first sweep of the AFC West division in team history and the first non-losing season in nearly a decade.
Some fans in Raider Nation are applauding this move, others (including this writer) are very disappointed.
Even some of the players have spoken out against this move. Shane Lechler was quoted voicing his displeasure with this move:
"I just want to know what the hell's going on, I just want to know ... how do you justify firing somebody when you just went 6-0 in the division and 8-8 in the season after we put in so much as a group, as a unit, as a team with our leader being Tom Cable, how do you just go ahead and whack this guy with, I mean, no reason?"
If the perennial Pro Bowler/team leader is this angry about losing Cable, what is the feeling about it from the rest of the team? This is very disconcerting for a lot of fans.
In this slide show, I will discuss where unearned credit was given to Hue Jackson, where blame was placed on Cable unfairly, as well as make cases for a few people that should have been fired before Tom Cable.
Agree or not, I hope you enjoy the show...
Hue Jackson was hired as offensive coordinator and has done a great job improving the offense. Points per game are up by nearly double, turnovers are down and the running game emerged as one the league's best.
All of the credit for these improvements has gone to Jackson and Jackson alone.
While a lot of the credit should go to Jackson, giving all of it to him is not fair to the other coaches or the players.
The fact is, you can have the best strategist in the game, but without talent and coaching, you have nothing.
Designing and calling the plays are only part of the job. You have to have the talent to execute, the position coaches to teach each individual player their job and a head coach the players buy into and for whom they are willing to play.
Tom Cable was that head coach.
Jackson benefited from Tom Cable and the other coaches just as much as those men benefited from Jackson.
The Raider player with the most receptions is tight end Zach Miller—again. Miller hauled in 60 passes to earn him a rank of 40th league wide.
Darren McFadden was second in receptions with 47 for a rank of 71st in the league.
The highest ranked Raider wide receiver was Louis Murphy at 100 with only 41 catches.
Under the tutelage of Hue Jackson and wide receiver coach Sanjay Lal, the Oakland wide receivers were, once again, virtually non-existent.
It would seem to me the offensive coordinator and position coach should get some of the blame for this, but they seem to be exempt. All the blame falls on Cable for some unknown reason.
With this information, a case could be made for Davis to have fired Lal instead of Cable.
When Darren McFadden was taken with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft, the expectations placed upon him were extremely high. For the most part, "D-Mac" failed to live up to those expectations until the 2010 season.
Many fans and "experts" point to the hiring of Hue Jackson as the reason for McFadden's resurgence. While I believe that he deserves some credit, I feel that once again, he gets more than he is due.
Isn't it possible that McFadden's early lack of production and subsequent turn around are due, in no small part, to injuries (or the absence thereof)?
I believe that McFadden's improved durability (and resulting performance) have very little to do with Hue Jackson. It's more about McFadden working harder in the off season to prepare and to strength and conditioning coach Brad Roll getting him ready for the rigors of the season.
What would McFadden have been capable of if not for injuries in the 2009 season? If he exploded last season, would Cable have been given credit for it? Probably not.
All this said, fans continue to give Jackson credit for the hard work and success of others.
How about this: How about we start giving credit to McFadden for his hard work and to running back coach Kelly Skipper, rather than heaping it on Hue Jackson unwarranted?
For some reason, the bulk of the blame for the porous offensive line is put on Tom Cable alone.
I know that this is Cable's specialty, but this still doesn't seem right to me.
Last I checked, Cable was no longer in charge of the offensive line, Jim Michalczik was. If there is any blame, (or credit) it should go to Michalczik rather than Cable or Jackson.
Whether the average fan wants to admit it or not, the offensive line improved quite a bit as the season went along. The running game was dominant more often than not and the pass blocking was better in the end than at the beginning of the season.
Why is all the credit going to Jackson and all the blame going to Cable? Shouldn't most of both go to Michalczik?
I would think so.
In 2010 the Raiders finished 25th in the league in 3rd down conversion percentage with an average success rate of only 34 percent.
How is this Tom Cable's fault? Shouldn't the blame for this be on...oh, I don't know...the offensive coordinator?
Did Cable call the vanilla plays on third down that defenses saw coming from a mile away? Did Cable fail to call better plays on 1st and 2nd down to improve the distance on 3rd down? Did Cable fail to execute the plays that were called?
Obviously not, but short-sighted fans are still willing to look past this defined failure by Jackson and place the blame on Cable.
The truth is, if Jackson had been a better play caller on third down, the Raiders would have been even more successful than they were.
The Raiders found themselves among the league worst in redzone efficiency in 2010. Oakland put up a paltry 52.08 percent offensive redzone success rate. Remember, this stat includes touchdowns and field goals.
That stat means the Raiders scored just barely over half the time they had the ball inside their opponent's 20 yard line.
Is this Tom Cable's fault, or is it the offensive coordinator's fault?
Most fans seem to think Cable had more to do with this failure than the man that actually designed and called the plays that failed almost as much as they succeeded.
Another of the reasons for the improvement in Oakland was the defensive line play. Somehow, fans forget who was instrumental in making that happen—Tom Cable.
The defensive line had a lot to do with the improvement of this team.
Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, John Henderson and Desmond Bryant have played excellent on the interior defensive line. This has led to a better run defense and pass rush.
Matt Shaughnessy and rookie Lamarr Houston have provided a solid pass rush and great run defense. Adding the role playing of Trevor Scott (when healthy) and Jarvis Moss made the entire defensive line a much improved squad.
Cable and Al Davis brought in the better talent, Cable brought in new defensive line coach Mike Waufle and these men deserve to be recognized for the great job they've done—Jackson had nothing to do with the improvement in this area.
I don't think anyone is saying that Jackson made this happen, but they're not giving Cable any credit either—and they should be.
When you have great talent to work with, you have a great shot at success. This aspect has been an area of frustration for Raider fans for years.
However, in the 2010 draft, Cable, (not Jackson) pushed hard for the players he felt the team needed. Davis relented and allowed Cable to pick "his guys."
The truth is, Jackson had no say in who got drafted and who didn't. Davis, Cable and the scouting staff did.
Those rookies were just as critical to the Raiders improvement as the changes Jackson made.
Jackson may not be getting credit for this, but neither is Cable—even though he deserves it.
Another area in which the Raiders were improved is special teams. This had nothing to do with Jackson or Cable.
The coverage teams, although they had their breakdowns, played much better this season. The Raiders gave up fewer touchdowns and forced the opponents into worse average starting field position.
The return team was ignited by Jacoby Ford. The rookie from Clemson electrified Raider Nation and helped the team win with great kick returns for most of the year.
John Fassel deserves most of the credit for this. Not Jackson, Cable or Davis—Fassel.
(And yes, Fassel should get some of the blame for Janikowski's misses that cost us games, but Cable got that too.)
Look, I don't think that Cable is the best head coach in the league, or that he's going to lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl. All I'm saying is that Cable was not given enough credit for the improvements he made and Jackson was given more than he deserved.
Allegedly breaking the jaw of an assistant, going 5-11 in 2009 and running the "great playah" that the owner loved, (JaMarcus Russell) out of town won't get you fired from the Raiders, but giving the team the best season they've had in nearly a decade does.
It makes no sense.
Too many people are heaping all the credit for the improvement on Hue Jackson. While Jackson deserves a lot of it, he doesn't deserve all of it. Giving him credit for most of the offense is fine, but there were many more improvements on this team brought about by Cable that made this team more competitive than it has been in a long time.
Cable did a great job turning this team around. The Raiders were no longer a "gimmie" for teams. The Raiders were relevant again. This was due in large part to the fact that the players liked Cable, bought into his philosophy and they knew what he expected of them and that he'd fight for them.
That "trust factor" is now back to zero. This is rarely good for a team and very seldom results in improvement. More often than not, the team has to take a few steps backward before it can move forward.
In the end, Cable and defensive coordinator John Marshall are gone, Jackson is in and the team is without offensive and defensive coordinators. Players will now have to learn a new system on offense and defense. The defensive players have to learn about their new head coach.
Basically, all the improvement and continuity that had been made is for not and the team is back to square one.
How is this a good thing?