By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, November 1st, 2009 at 9:26 am in Oakland Raiders.
There is speculation that Tom Cable’s job could be in danger should the Raiders suffer another blowout loss Sunday to the San Diego Chargers.
That’s all it is at this point _ speculation. A lot of it by fans, a few off-hand references in the media.
It seems reasonable enough. The Raiders are coming up on their bye week. Al Davis fired his coach, Lane Kiffin, last season at the bye week. The bye week presents an opportunity for the interim coach to at least begin to get up to speed for the Raiders’ post-bye game Nov. 15 at the Coliseum against Kansas City.
Cable is 6-13 as a head coach, slightly better than Kiffin’s 5-15, and his losses have been much more one-sided _ nine of them by three touchdowns or more.
The heat is off Cable in terms of prosecution for the assault alleged by Randy Hanson, although an NFL sanction (more likely a fine than suspension) is still a possibility. Now comes an ESPN Outside the LInes report aired Sunday morning which says Cable has a history of violence toward women.
Cable issued statements through the Associated Press conceding he struck his first wife “with an open hand” in 1989 and has regretted it ever since and challenged ESPN for never contacting him initially for comment.
I’ve heard Davis is unhappy with the whole Hanson affair, given that he gave Cable his big chance to be an NFL coach and then the organization had to deal with an unwanted distraction.
Never mind the fact that Davis is the one responsible for putting Hanson in the mix in the first place, and that other distractions over the years have also been a great deal of his own making. It’s doubtful he sees it that way. No telling what he thinks of this latest run of bad publicity. Coupled with another face-plant today, Davis could conceivably use it as “cause” for firing another coach.
That said, I don’t see Cable being an in-season casualty. There is some sentiment within the building that he’s been the best coach at dealing with the boss since Jon Gruden, although his team’s on-field performance has never approached what Gruden delivered.
Whatever disagreements Cable has had with Davis, or problems with personnel, he’s never leaked them to the media. He’s held firm to the philosophies of the owner on offense and defense, which he says he agrees with due to his lifelong love for the franchise.
Kiffin antagonized Davis at every turn, hoping to get fired. Cable espouses traditions, rivalries and the kind of history which plays well upstairs. He made his most risky move against the Jets, benching JaMarcus Russell and taking a subtle but evident hard line regarding his inadequacies in the loss. It’s a tightrope, to be sure, because Cable’s job is tied to Russell’s progress and no one believes Bruce Gradkowski or Charlie Frye could step in and suddenly deliver victories.
Still, unless Cable takes a “him or me’ stance with Russell, and continues to try and build a team around him, he’s not going anywhere this season.
That doesn’t mean Cable has a free pass by any means. Only that he’s probably going to last the season. He could end up a dead man walking, much like the final weeks of the reigns of Bill Callahan, Art Shell and Norv Turner.
One thing’s for sure. Cable could really use a repeat of the kind of electricity the Raiders had on opening night against San Diego, this time followed by a win. And he needs to bag a few more wins along the way. Beating fellow lightweights such as the Chiefs, Redskins and Browns would be mandatory, coupled with a couple of unexpected victories along the way such as a high-profile Thanksgiving Day game against the Cowboys.
There’s also potential upsets against teams such as Pittsburgh, Denver and Baltimore.
Tall orders to be sure. After the Jets game, frankly, it looks next to impossible.
Cable got his chance in large measure because of two wins to close the season against Houston and Tampa Bay, and I’ll be the first to admit I thought winning those games earned him a shot at the job.
Davis apparently thought so as well, but closing with a rush over the last two games won’t count for nearly as much this time around if it is preceded by a few more lackluster one-sided losses.