If this was going to be his fate, the Oakland Raiders should have fired Tom Cable a year ago.
Canning him now, after a season of true progress, is just another sign of dysfunction in Oakland. The only thing good about this move is that it was quick.
Last year, Cable twisted in the wind for weeks while Oakland pondered whether to fire him after a 5-11 season. Cable was retained and the Raiders improved under his watch. They finished the season 8-8, the first time they have finished .500 or better since 2002, when the team went to the Super Bowl. Oakland was 6-0 against the AFC West this season.
On Sunday and Monday, Cable said he was elated about the progress the team has made and talked about its chances of improving in 2011. Apparently, Cable didn’t do enough to keep the job beyond this season.
What was Oakland looking for?
If the Raiders really thought they’d make the playoffs this season, they were fooling themselves. This season was all about making improvements and the Raiders met that goal under Cable.
Yes, the Raiders still have problems and yes, they were the most penalized team in the league this season. But Cable, who finished with a 17-27 record as Oakland's coach, wasn’t going to solve those issues overnight.
What kind of message does this send to the team?
The job will likely go to offensive coordinator Hue Jackson -- if he doesn’t go to the San Francisco 49ers first. You can’t deny Jackson’s impact on the team. But Cable also deserves credit.
He was a players' coach who was extremely enthusiastic. He was often too much of a cheerleader and he often bordered on being delusional about his team. But the Raiders bought in.
Throughout the season, players complimented Cable for giving the team fire and making it believe. During the past week, many Oakland players stood up for Cable. Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler said it would be a “shame” if Cable wasn’t brought back.
One of the biggest problems in Oakland has been the lack of stability. By moving away from Cable, the Raiders have compromised their continuity, even if Jackson becomes the coach. There will be more changes on this staff and there will be yet another adjustment period for the players. The Raiders will be hiring their sixth head coach since the start of the 2002 season.
I just don’t understand the timing. If Oakland owner Al Davis didn’t think Cable could lead Oakland to the playoffs, he should have just fired Cable a year ago, fresh off the Randy Hanson assault allegations.
I wonder if the Raiders really have a plan or if their 2010 progress came despite their front-office leadership. Cable will likely go back to being an offensive line coach in the league and the Raiders will continue to look for something only Davis can explain.