Cable playing it smart in terms of personnel


Every time it seems Al Davis is about to relinquish some control in the Raiders personnel department, the evidence suggests his grip gets tighter.

When Jon Gruden took over in 1998, conventional wisdom was he had a lot to do with changing the makeup of the team. Which he did, but only to a point.

There was the time Gruden thought he had cut David Dunn, only to discover he hadn’t. When Dunn fumbled a punt which helped cost the Raiders a game against Arizona, he and Bruce Allen didn’t speak for a month.

Gruden was sent packing following the season, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers giving Davis an offer he couldn’t refuse.

When Norv Turner took over, he phased out both Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, only to end up being sent out of town following the 2005 season in favor of Art Shell.

Shell picked a fight with Jerry Porter, Davis never intervened, and the coach also implemented a three-coach disaster with the offensive line. Davis watched all the way up to the point until he dumped Shell.

As for draft picks, Davis blamed Shell for Michael Huff over Matt Leinart (at this point it looks like neither was worth the No. 7 pick).

It’s never been clear exactly who much power Lane Kiffin received, since his main agenda was building a resume and getting out of town.

That’s a long way of saying that at least things are clear in 2009. The Raiders are a height-weight-speed team that wants to look good getting off the bus. Tom Cable, in so many words, said so last weekend when discussing how the Raiders made their selections.

Cable has input. He wants some character to go along with the measurables. But Cable is operating like a Stanford recruiting coordinator, except that the players he crosses off the list are too slow in the 40-yard dash or have another perceived physical liability rather than poor grades.

Michael Crabtree? Rey Maualuga? Too slow.

Even the handful of undrafted free agents the Raiders have signed fit in to one of their cherished categories.

“The Raiders love speed, they don’t care about size as much as speed,” wide receiver/return specialist Nick Miller of Southern Utah told the Daily Spectrum. “They like to throw the ball and stretch the field, which is perfect for me since those are my biggest strengths: my speed and my ability to get down the field.”

It’s a cliche even in St. George, Utah.

When I covered Stanford football, there were stories about how Dennis Green would rail against the admissions department and even take his case to provost Condoleeza Rice _ unsuccessfully. Green bailed out when the Minnesota Vikings called.

Cable, on the other hand, appears to be pushing the players he likes, but doesn’t bother with anyone who doesn’t meet the minimum requirements speed-size requirements. It’s a realistic approach, rather than fighting for player Davis will never consider.

Rather than resist Davis, he has gotten on board. In some quarters, he’s immediately been labeled another puppet, a line coach thankful to have a head coaching job like Joe Bugel.

Only time will tell whether Cable has actually established a working relationship with Davis or if he’ll be the latest coach to be sent out of town because he couldn’t work within the framework of a system which many believe values workout warriors over football players.

Because that’s the trick with the Raiders _ finding the workout warriors who are also football players.

Snead on the way out

Speaking of the scouting operation, I’ve heard Rich Snead is on his way out of the organization.

Snead joined the Raiders after Mike Lombardi was fired, although it’s not clear how much influence he had.

Lombardi was initially trotted out to the media as a “voice” after Allen left, although he was never comfortable with the role and was banished when he recruited Bobby Petrino to be the head coach, only to have Petrino turn down the job.

Snead, a respected personnel man with Tennessee for nine years before joining the Raiders, has been essentially anonymous since he arrived.

Neal rumors

If the as yet unsubstantiated stories regarding free agent fullback Lorenzo Neal and the Raiders are true, it means two things:

1) The Raiders aren’t expecting Oren O’Neal to be ready for the beginning of the 2009 season, because it isn’t their style to lead on a respected vet such as Neal and sign him to a deal, only to dump him if O’Neal is healthy.

2) It’s another example of what Davis meant when he said he wanted more power in the Raiders running game. Kiffin made it clear last year he didn’t believe Neal was a fit for the zone blocking system.

If Davis tells Cable to make it work, Cable will have to make it work.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • RaiderRockstar

    I can’t see where all this love for Huff comes from. The guy has had his chances. He’s got safety cover skills but can’t tackle. IMO that makes him a dime corner at best.


    had his chances? Rob “the blob” Ryan forced this kid to play strong safety (out of position) his first 2 years in the league. he covered tight ends perfectly, but he couldn’t drop bigger RB’s with a full head of steam like a sledge hammer – no. when are you guys going to start holding the front seven accountable for the run defense? blaming one safety for Ryan’s moronic scheme is ludacris. and he was benched after only 5 starts at FS last year. Nnamdi Asomugha even called Cable out for doing that, saying it was too soon.

    Eugene is bigger & stronger than Huff, so was Gibril Wilson, but you know what? neither one of them could cover a fullback, much less a TE or WR. Huff has cover skills and he needs a DC that can put him in a position to make plays. John Marshall can be that guy.

  • 24

    If Huff doesn’t play well under John Marshall, then we have something to worry about.

  • jhill

    Another thing …

    Ricky Brown play more like a LB than Howard or Morrion. I’d rather have him in the lineup than Morrison.

  • 24

    Most of you may not agree with this but Stuart Schweigert played Rob Ryan’s defense perfectly but he got alot of slack because of lack of interceptions. The guy came out of college with a record breaking interception rate from Purdue I think it was. He broke Rod Woodson’s record there and when he got here, he was expected to cover the whole field all by himself and ensure that nobody got past him. Period. End of Story. He was not put in a position to achieve stats and he paid the price for it but he played the FS position for Rob Ryan’s defense better than anybody else. Thats whats sad about it. He only did what was asked of him.

  • 24

    Raider Dell – Well…if I truly wanted to find the mini camp information, I could have but I feel lazy and you knew the answer. 😉

  • 24

    Ricky Brown isn’t durable otherwise we would have had better play from the Strong position last year.

  • Raider Dell

    24 Says:
    May 4th, 2009 at 11:46 am
    Raider Dell – Well…if I truly wanted to find the mini camp information, I could have but I feel lazy and you knew the answer.


    Your definetly not lazy, just looking for some Raider mini camp LOVE.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Ricky Brown play more like a LB than Howard or Morrion. I’d rather have him in the lineup than Morrison.


    Jhill: Agreed. this kid is a tackling machine. He’s not as fast or athletic as Howard or Morrison, but he gives 100 percent on every play and gets the job done. This kid doesn’t miss tackles or over pursue. I don’t know if people hate on him because he’s undersized or his injury last year. Maybe they just see an undrafted guy in the starting lineup and figure he’s a dud? one thing’s for certain – this kid can play. People with harsh criticism against him obviously didn’t watch him play the first 8 games last season. Why do you guys think we slapped a 2nd Round tag on him? He can play all 3 LB spots and he’s a beast on special teams

  • RaiderRockstar

    If Huff doesn’t play well under John Marshall, then we have something to worry about.



  • 24

    Raider Dell – If anything, the Mini Camp will give us the most important information like this team will look great coming off the bus and with all this speed, we’ll be getting off the bus in a hurry because if they don’t, they’ll have to get back on the bus and beat last years record. Thats what its all about…getting better, stronger and faster every year.

  • Raider Dell


    Lately we have had some bus accidents lately, maybe we should just have them bike in, what do you think?

  • RaiderRockstar

    Ricky Brown gets offer he won’t refuse

    The Raiders offered outside linebacker Ricky Brown a second-round tender, a league source told The Chronicle this morning, which will all but certainly bring him back next season.

    Their one-year contract offer is for $1.545 million. Should Brown sign elsewhere as a free agent, the Raiders can choose to match the other teams offer (and keep Brown) or accept a second-round draft pick as compensation.

    That simply isn’t going to happen — not because Brown isn’t worth the modest salary, but because teams are unlikely to give up such a high draft pick for a still-developing player like Brown.

    Brown made $445,000 last season, riding the NFL’s minimum wage line.

    The second-round tender is a strong sign the Raiders still believe in Brown’s upside. Undrafted in 2006, former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan fell in love with him. He stuck even when Lane Kiffin showed up and wondered out loud what this undersized player was doing on an NFL roster.

    Brown won the starting strongside linebacker job in camp last year but missed the second half of the season. He had sports hernia surgery after the season and is close to full recovery.

    -David White (SF Chronicle) posted 02/26/09

  • 24

    Raider Dell – Like…bicycle bikes? Can they wear mink coats? Maybe they should take the bus instead of the bus taking them? Maybe they should just carry it as one team. Maybe they can show up in a jail bus to show that they’re like a bunch of hardened criminals waiting to unleash the fury on opposing teams? Hmmmmmmmmm…

  • nader64

    So, we give him another chance under Marshall (not that we have a choice apparently). I tell you this, it’s more than Ryan’s scheme that got this guy screwed up. He himself had something to do w/ it. I mentioned the quote about his attitude/motivation towards football and he must have had SOME issues to be beaten out by a guy like Eugene. If Huff has the ability you all speak of there’s no excuse for getting benched for Hiram. I mean, they played the same scheme right? If so, it would follow that Huff got benched b/c Hiram played it better.

  • Raider Dell


    Your imagination is on fire today. Must be that sweet thing your getting married to. I bet you she brings out your best.

    That would be news worthy if the raiders have the FA’S and Drafted player arrive in one of those Sheriff buses, wirh the barred windows, and the sheriffs riding with shotguns.

    News Flash, scroll on ESPN.

  • Raider Dell


    Great to have you aboard for this weekend mini camp. Remember all information will just be, what they call in the news business “FILL”

    I’ll catch you later.

  • 24

    Nader64 – Sometimes players lose confidence. He wasn’t getting any interceptions, theres talk that the defense was constantly confused on assignments, we’ve done nothing but lose, the defense has been on the field more than the offense and maybe Huff is human and fell off the map in his career? In comes John Marshall and a new coaching staff with a better idea for what they want to do and better play calling skills and that can make life easier for Huff and I’m sure he feels relief about his own career being the hands of someone else.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Huff got benched b/c Hiram played it better.


    exactly. Eugene played better than Huff in a garbage defense that got torched vs both the run AND pass

    How come Tyler Brayton & Fabian Washington were both starters for playoff teams last year after Ryan benched them in favor of Stanford Routt & Jay Richardson? explain that one to me …

    both were former 1st rounders (like Huff)

  • 24

    Raider Dell – Take it sleezy. 😉

  • nader64

    I’m not defending Ryan. I imagine Brayton provided about the same as Richardson in our scheme and Richardson was cheaper. Fabian I never thought was that good. I think the pass rush really helps him in Baltimore. He would seem to always get beat on longer patterns by taller guys or better leapers even though he had good coverage. I am guessing on both but it does point to the scheme/overall talent impacting guys. I just expect more out of a #7 pick, fair or not. I hope you guys are right about him but I tell ya, he hasn’t had the look of a fighter. He would have to change that about himself and get his confidence/fire back.


  • sorry, I just like saying WTF!

  • nader64

    Yeah, seriously. We fux need our fix

  • Huff had the look of a fighter at Texas, when he could get away with arm tackles and superior speed.

    Could be worse though – could be Leinert. Tuck the Frojans.

  • Dude,

    Where is my fix??

  • There is nothing for Jerry to report about the Raiders right now. Do you want him to break down the Dallas practice facility collapse or something?

  • Jerry,

    Do you job sir!!!


  • nader64

    Since when has a lack of events stopped a good reporter from adding content?

  • new post up