Cable's key is Russell

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

Here is Tom Cable's most important challenge ahead of him: Quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

If Cable is to somehow buck Al Davis' trend of firing the head coach after a short stint, he will need to make Russell a legitimate quarterback.

It is a quarterback league, and with young standout quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler in the AFC West, Russell will need to make big strides if the Raiders are to become relevant. Russell was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft and has made very little progress. He has showed signs of being a difference-making quarterback, but he still has a long way to go.

During a December game in which San Diego blew out the Raiders, NFL Network commentator Cris Collinsworth said the Raiders needed to hire a quarterback guru to help develop Russell.

Cable's area of concentration is on the offensive line. He has hired Paul Hackett and may be close to brining in Ted Tollner. Hackett and Tollner are both veteran quarterback coaches so their presence will help.

Russell will need the tutelage. If he is going to become a standout quarterback, he will need better teaching than he has received so far. This is Cable's biggest job and his biggest chance to succeed in Oakland.