Oakland Raiders: Cable's 'All-In' on Bruce Gradkowski Saves His Team And Career

SB Report@Raiders_NationCorrespondent IISeptember 23, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Head coach Tom Cable of the Oakland Raiders looks on against the Seattle Seahawks during an NFL preseason game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 2, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Here we go again. What would a season in Oakland be without controversy?

Raider fans have their quarterback this Sunday. Hue Jackson got his quarterback. And probably Bruce Gradkowski's biggest advocate, Tom Cable, got his quarterback this week.

So what's the problem?

Every indication is that Al Davis didn't get his quarterback.

Everyone knows things are run differently in Oakland. Only a few of Davis' loyal minions actually know what goes on behind closed doors.

What we do know is that Al Davis likes control. At this point he has earned as much. Even if he had not earned it, it doesn't matter because he owns the team.

With so little information available, Raiders fans have to read between the lines to understand what goes on in Oakland. In fact, the good folks at ESPN and other major networks essentially have to do the same.

With that said, everything between the lines indicate the Gradkowski move is not Davis' decision.

Take for example, the Raiders were the last team to announce their starting quarterback this week. There are no injuries. There's no real reason to be vague the past three days.

The Cardinals were reportedly preparing as if Gradkowski will be starting on Sunday, so there is no real strategic advantage to waiting.

The reason for the delay seems relatively easy to see. The Raiders coaching staff was presenting their case to Davis to make Gradkowski the starting quarterback.

The media session yesterday with Jackson was not just for the fans. It was primarily intended for Davis. Jackson is considered Al's most favored member of the Raider coaching staff. For now, he's the golden boy.

The fans don't care whose idea it was to pull Jason Campbell last week. The fans just want to win.

Doesn't anyone wonder why a coach on the hot seat like Cable would ever want credit passed to his likely heir apparent?

Davis is a stubborn guy. He's also a smart guy. He may be old-fashioned and maybe the game is passing him by, but he is aware of the picture the media paints of him.

After his heavy endorsement of JaMarcus Russell three years ago, it was never more important to make a splash and hit on Campbell.

The team went all-in on Campbell and signed him to an $8 million contract and named him the starter before he stepped onto the practice field.

From Al's perspective, the team is six quarters into the season and back to the drawing board.

Of course he doesn't like this move. Compared to Russell, Campbell has still been a major upgrade through the first two games. He did have a completion, didn't he?

It's just speculation, but the Raiders probably didn't know who their starter was until Wednesday.

The coaching staff likely presented its case to Davis this week and didn't entirely convince him. The two sides may not be at odds with each other, but Cable saw the need to send Jackson out and soften his No. 1 critic.

For Davis, the silver lining in all this may be his 2009 first round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey. On Sunday against St. Louis, Heyward-Bey caught a third of his career receptions in one half with Gradkowski at quarterback.

After one catch in Tennessee and one in the first half on Sunday, Heyward-Bey looked like a different receiver in the second half.

We've come to know DHB as a quiet type, searching for the confidence take make plays on Sundays and not just on the practice field.

This past Sunday, he actually looked like he had a personality. He ran over and around defenders and finished the day with six catches for 80 yards. Last season he had nine receptions for 124 yards.

If Davis feels he is losing $8 million with Campbell on the bench, he can at least enjoy a return on his $38 million receiver.

If the Raiders lose on Sunday and especially if Gradkowski struggles, look for Ed Werner and the national media to set up a tent in Oakland. The stories may last the whole season.

There may be more than one overhead projector loaded with pie charts and bar graphs.

Fortunately, the truth of the matter is that Gradkowski has the makeup of a starting quarterback.

For all that he doesn't have, he is more than equipped to be the surprise of the NFL season. He is short, but taller than Drew Brees.

His arm is not the greatest, but his yards per completion average last year was better than Peyton Manning, Brees, and Tom Brady.

His work ethic is tremendous and his pocket presence is exactly what a quarterback must have with this Raiders offensive line. In fact, the line looked very solid in the second half.

Cable may have gone all-in on his Raider coaching career this week, but look for this move to actually save his job.

The Raiders have mostly winnable games before the bye week. If the team can come together and keep its quarterback healthy, the team may get Werner and the gang in Oakland for different reasons.



The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.