My, what a strange trip this has been for Tom Cable.
Placing him as the offensive line coach, it was Tom's job to watch over an inconsistent line with issues ranging from penalties to injuries. That is, until Lane Kiffin decided to rebel against the Rebel.
With a simple move, Lane Kiffin was gone and Tom Cable was given a chance to try the position out for the rest of 2008. Going 4-8 and tying a win over Jon Gruden helped, as the team won the last two games of that season.
As 2009 approached, Tom faced issues both off and on the field. There was the Randy Hanson fight in the preseason, which didn't get resolved by the District Attorney in October, followed by the Outside the Lines episode that revealed Tom's romantic and domestic history.
On the field, 2009 was thought by many to be Tom and JaMarcus, joined at the hip. If one sank, the other would follow shortly. Many felt that Cable had struck a deal with Al Davis, saying that if anyone could get JaMarcus Russell's career to rise, it would be Cable.
This belief lasted until Tom could not take JaMarcus Russell's poor play, electing to bench him, regardless of the risk to his own job. During the game against Kansas City, where Tom selected to replace Russell, Bruce Gradkowski got the team close, falling at the end of the game with a bad pass.
As Tom's choices of starting quarterbacks changed, first to Bruce then to Charlie Frye, the Raiders managed to go from two wins to five, with Russell acting as a relief player against the Broncos. The Raiders finished at 5-11, and ESPN started their Coaching Watch, crowing about Cable's impending termination.
Then something odd happened in January. Day after day passed, Tom was seen here and there, and he wasn't fired. If anything, it looked like Al Davis had used JaMarcus Russell as a litmus test, to see what Tom Cable could tolerate as a coach, then brought in Hue Jackson to help him out on the sidelines.
During the offseason and then the draft, Oakland continued to work towards fixing what what was ailing the Raiders, cutting players like Cornell Green loose, then putting the football world on it's collective ear when the Raiders made a sensible, smart draft. Picking up Jason Campbell for a draft pick later in the future also helped.
The release of JaMarcus Russell closed a painful chapter to the Raiders future, and helped give Tom Cable the perfect opportunity to lead the Raiders to their first winning season since 2002.
From the brink and beyond. Make us proud, Tom.