Raiders Looking for a Cable Upgrade: Can Tom Cable Revive the Franchise?

Jimmy HalCorrespondent IIIMay 5, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 21:  Offensive line coach Tom Cable of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the game against the Buffalo Bills on September 21, 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

It's no secret that Tom Cable has a lot to prove in his first year as a full-time head coach. Taking over for Lane Kiffin couldn't have been easy. In fact, considering he was on Kiffin's staff, I'm sure he had to prove his loyalty to Mr. Davis even more.

Cable had to change the culture of an entire football team, prove to his players that he wanted to be their head coach and that he could be trusted, and also develop the talent of a very young football team. The biggest part of that young talent being quarterback JaMarcus Russell, the future face of the franchise.

Keep in mind that the offensive philosophy was completely different under Kiffin than it is under Cable. Because Kiffin never trusted his quarterback, the term run-oriented is an understatement. Just look at the game against Kansas City in week two for proof.

When Cable took the reins, he at least understood that he had a quarterback to develop, and handing the ball off to Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden wasn't going to cut it. In week six against the New Orleans Saints, Russell had a shaky if not horrid performance. However, with low effort from Javon Walker, plus Ronald Curry having the case of the drops, that was probably Russell's most pass attempts he had in weeks.

In all 12 weeks, Cable made it known that he felt that the Raiders had what it takes to be a playoff team. Thought by the media to be crazy, Tom Cable always stood by his words. In the last six weeks the Raiders went 3-3. That may seem like an average record; however, the Raiders played as if they were a team and laid their hearts out for Cable as if he had been the coach all season.

Not only did Russell's completion percentage and quarterback rating improve, it also looked like the young signal caller took over an offense that relied on his arm, rather than the guy lined up behind him. The defense played like a unit—not just Nnamdi Asomugha shutting down his receiver. They genuinely wanted to get the ball back for their offense.

This brings us to the offseason. Tom Cable again had to prove himself to Al Davis. Even though Cable was not employed by the Raiders, he formally represented them at events such as the Senior Bowl.

Cable even had to form a coaching staff without being guaranteed the job—a staff that everyone would think belonged to Al Davis. Still, Cable never wavered. His coaches may be "seasoned"; however, they have reputations of being teachers of the game. This helps with such a young football team.

Free agency with Cable was completely different from past free agency periods in the past for the Raiders. They passed on the flashy players such as T.O. and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and didn't even make an attempt to trade for Chad OchoCinco. Instead, the Raiders found quality players for bargain prices, such as Khalif Barnes.

Their biggest free agency pickup was veteran Jeff Garcia. His presence not only pushes JaMarcus Russell to be better, but he can mentor him as well.

Now the draft has come and gone, and Cable is considered Davis' puppet now more than ever with speedy players who most believe the Raiders reached on. All of the picks have been considered Davis-like picks. They may be Davis-like players, yet they are Cable-like men—hard workers with a team-first attitude who will play whistle to whistle.

The Raiders are going from analog to digital. Let's hope Cable can give them a Hi-Def upgrade.


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