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Biggest Cable weakness was his supposed strength

If and when Tom Cable gets the chance to plead his case with Al Davis about retaining job as head coach, the hardest part will be explaining the play of the Raiders offensive line.

It’s the only thing he has in common with Art Shell. Cable is an expert and an offensive line guru of sorts. But like Shell in 2006, possibly the greatest tackle in the history of the NFL, the unit with which he has the most expertise was most responsible for a poor season.

Warren Sapp can say all he wants “stats are for losers,” but the stats of the Raiders offensive line make it pretty clear why the Raiders were losers in 2009.

A top 10 rushing team each of the last two years, they finished 21st in 2009.

The Raiders played 16 games and had seven rushing touchdowns.

They were tied for 19th in yards per carry at 4.1 yards per attempt.

As far as protecting the quarterback, the Raiders surrendered 49 sacks, third most in the NFL. And while JaMarcus Russell undoubtedly had issues other than Las Vegas excursions that led to too many sacks, both of the quarterbacks who supplanted him _ Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye _ were knockout victims at the hands of an opposing pass rush.

It was Cable who in 2008, stuck with Kwame Harris beyond all reason. It was Cable who pushed hard for free agent Khalif Barnes, who never made an impact even though he made a relatively quick recovery from a broken ankle sustained in training camp.

At left tackle Mario Henderson started the season well enough but seemed to fade. Cable has long been effusive of his praise for right tackle Cornell Green, who finished with 12 penalties in 12 games and was never intended to be anything more than a backup when he was signed.

Right guard Cooper Carlisle, signed because of his experience as a zone blocker in Denver, may have been the Raiders best lineman in 2007 and has regressed in each of the past two years.

Chris Morris, a smallish guard/center with zone blocking skills, ranged from a game ball performance against Pittsburgh to be being benched in favor of 362-pound Langston Walker for a poor performance against Washington.

Erik Pears, another ex-Bronco with zone blocking experience, did his best work as a blocker when forced into action as an emergency tight end.

It wasn’t Cable’s fault that it amounted to a lost season for Robert Gallery, who opened the season with an emergency appendectomy and followed it up with a broken fibula and a serious back injury that required surgery.

There is no denying Cable’s passion and expertise with regard to coaching an offensive line. Before he was the head coach, during training camp his unit was a must-see just for the way he worked and interacted with his players. When the unit was struggling under Jim Michalczik, Cable stepped in to such an extent it was if Michalczik was a bystander for more than a month.

But the Raiders never managed a truly dominating game from their offensive line, one in which they simply seized the game in the fourth quarter and made it their own despite a trio of capable backs in Michael Bush, Darren McFadden and Justin Fargas.

Oakland spent much of its training camp assuming it would run the ball well and working on its passing game to bring Russell and Co. up to speed. Cable said he will look hard at whether that decision ended up hurting their ability to run.

When quizzed about the shortcomings of the offensive line, Cable included the defensive line play as well.

“You’re asking specifically about the offensive line, but I think on both sides we have to get better,” Cable said. “ “There’s no question. The good teams in this league, they’re built on the line of scrimmage. And the cohesiveness it takes, whether it be on offense or defense, is extreme. And I don’t think we had enough on either side this year.”

Cable remains a staunch supporter of zone blocking, the scheme he became sold on while working in Atlanta for Alex Gibbs.

“The teams that are leading the league are still predominately zone blocking teams,” Cable said. “So I’m not sure whether it’s the scheme that’s the issue, it’s how we are teaching it, how we are a playing it.”

Coaching for an owner whose 1970s powerhouse teams were built on offensive line play, Cable will need to come up with some answers.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • RaiderRockstar

    “We needed a guy like Mike Shanahan,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “We needed a proven leader, a proven winner. He’s definitely going to get these guys motivated and get the most out of all of them.”

    ***

    all of them? LOL. what about “all of us”?

    Toast Hall obviously thinks he’s not part of the problem. watch him be the first one cut. hahaha

  • raiderzmaverick

    Zymurge – Bush has been considered an above average pass catcher in the backfield. Maybe he won’t line up as WR like Dmac but I only remember one drop he made this season also. Just doesn’t get thrown at much. But in past he looked good in that area..

  • RaiderRockstar

    Mike Bush reminds me of Brandon Jacobs or LenDale White …

    Play the man !!!

  • The Big Banana

    Zymurge – So, Bush’s average can’t be factored because he has too few carries? Haha! Nice. What came first, the chicken or the egg? All 3 RBs have a similar number of carries. Tell me….how should we compare their rushing ability?

    And Bush was used as a 4th quarter hammer? I seem to remember Cable forgetting about Bush in the second half. Besides, we were behind in most of our games in the 4th and, therefore, passing.

    As for receiving, nobody is arguing against having DMAC on the field. He is clearly best suited as a pass catcher at this point.

    Fargas is a complete every down back? LOL! Funny guy, you.

  • http://www.Move2Alameda.com KoolKell

    According to my Raiders source (The Chronicle’s David White), Al Davis was “livid” about Tom Cable last week.

    Cable told the media the Raiders would have been a playoff team if not for JaMarcus Russell. When the owner and coach met Monday, Davis’ tirade probably went something like this:

    “I am so angry! Livid, in fact! I am so dad-burn mad at myself for putting you in this situation, Tommy, where I expect you to win football games with a quarterback who makes Frankenstein’s monster look like Kenny Stabler on a moped. Not that it mattered, because I also forced you to start a wide receiver whose hands are on backward. Geez, I could just kick myself! No, here, you do it.”

    But seriously. Can you blame Davis for being mad at Cable? Davis caught his coach red-handed in the act of coaching.

    When Cable heard that Davis was livid, I bet Cable was livid.

    Cable has to be livid that Davis didn’t get livid about Russell’s three-year reign of sloth. Cable should be livid that when a flunky rushed into Davis’ office the first day of training camp this season with news that the franchise quarterback weighed 300 (or so) pounds, Davis probably said, “This is unacceptable! Summon the team carpenter and have him expand the lad’s locker-room cubicle. And fire the man who weighed him.”

    Davis gets my vote for NFL Executive of the Year, because he made all the other executives look good. When it comes to first-round draft picks, Davis has set the bar so low that ants do the Fosbury Flop over it.

    When Russell displayed the work ethic of a mattress tester, was Davis livid? No, Davis beamed with pride that his quarterback was his own man. … or two.

    Was Davis livid when he read Tuesday’s online reports that Russell checked into a Las Vegas hotel after skipping the final team meeting for “personal reasons”? No, because the owner knew his quarterback was there to train for next season by hitting the slot machines – standing in one place, staring straight ahead and repeatedly cranking his right arm.

    E-mail Scott Ostler at sostler@sfchronicle.com.

  • Stabler76

    three-year reign of sloth

    has set the bar so low that ants do the Fosbury Flop over it.

    ————————————————-
    Now that’s funny—- you are wasting your time here, you should be writing comedy

  • Richochet

    Hobs Gnarly Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 10:03 am
    Would really like to see Martz as OC, I think Grads can handle him.
    ===================
    Martz already interviewed for the job.
    Interview went great.
    Al was jazzed.
    Al wanted Martz.
    Martz left meeting.
    Martz called agent.
    Agent sent message to raiders: “Thanks, but no thanks. Not interested in the job”

    Martz made it VERY CLEAR he has no desire to work for a total control freak like Al Davis, especially considering that Martz is also a control freak.

  • Richochet

    Stabler76 Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 11:08 am
    three-year reign of sloth

    has set the bar so low that ants do the Fosbury Flop over it.

    ————————————————-
    Now that’s funny—- you are wasting your time here, you should be writing comedy
    ===========================
    Uh…dude?
    That was a cut and paste article written by Scott Ostler, from the Chronicle..hence the email address at the bottom.

    However, I’m sure Scott appreciates the fact you also enjoyed it.

  • Richochet

    Hobs Gnarly Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 7:37 am
    Richochet

    you use the word “lemmings” too much. a few years ago there was a poster under the name “charger” who used that very often too, I wonder if you are the same bloke?
    ==================================
    Nope..not charger.
    “use lemmings too much”??
    describe “too much”?

    When someone, or a certain group, is led blindly..who just accepts whatever is told them..who just goes with the flow, never daring to step up..what other way is there to describe them, besides lemmings?

    Ok..how’s this?
    “Spineless cowardly sorry excuse for a man lemming”?

    that better?

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    DMAC Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 10:37 am
    I rather take Urlacher!

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Briggs is the better run stopper, is cheaper, and isn’t hurt as often. Fills a bigger need for us.

    Of course, the upside is divesting in McFelldown.

  • OFL71

    1.Dead Owner
    2.Real GM/Director of Football Operations
    3.Real coach
    4.3-4 years of competent drafting
    Then maybe it’ll get back on track,til then it is what it is…

  • Stabler76

    Seems I missed the byline, thanks for your attention to detail.

    I think Dick Fosbury appreciates the fact that Scott thought of him.

    What a feel good moment all around.

    Is Uh…dude? meant to be funny ???

    I just want to make sure you get credit for saying something funny, like you wanted to make sure I gave Scott credit for saying something funny.

  • http://www.elvis.com Lucifer-666

    “McFelldown”

    Damn that’s funny!

  • DMAC

    We need someone in the middle, not the outside.

  • OFL71

    All the talk about “needing consistency” just cracks me the fu(k up!
    There is NO consistency when you have a scatterbrain paranoid,misanthropic senior citizen behind the wheel.

  • Richochet

    Hobs Gnarly Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 7:36 am
    Why is it the people who are pro Al Davis, never like the current head coach?

    Priest, you say that Cable got too caught up in trying to show Al he’s the next Bill Walsh? Isn’t that what your supposed to do, show your boss you are the real deal? Al let’s his ego get in the way. Period. He is not interested in winning anymore, his interests lie in his legacy (which is shot) and money. You haven’t changed…I still think you are Herrera incognito. Russell is not good and never will be, doesn’t have the mental capacity to be a pro QB and let
    us face it, that is the number one prerequisite.
    ============================================
    And priest would be at the top of the “spineless cowardly sorry excuse for a man lemming” list.

    Of course that’s what HC’s are supposed to do.
    But not with Al.
    Showing up Al is verboten.

    In answer to your question..the Al “lovers”..the Priests, the board gumby Silver N Smac, couple of others, are always looking for a scapegoat when Al’s decisions backfire.

    Hence:
    “Russell sucks”
    Al lovers: “not his fault, Al signed him..so it must be how the HC used him” OFF WITH THE HEAD COACHES HEAD.

    And so it goes…

  • RaiderRockstar

    Samson Satele, Erik Pears & Khalif Barnes sure made for a dominant o-line, eh fellas?

    I thought ANYBODY would be an upgrade over Morris, Carlisle & Green. guess I was wrong

    Instead of ridding the o-line of scrubs, Cable simply added more. I don’t miss Kwame Harris, John Wade or Paul McQuistan though.

  • raiderzmaverick

    Not doing what Al says is reason for dismissal…unless you win a lot….then it’s reason for trade.

    You either follow the line or get fired quickly.

  • Stabler76

    I’d really like to see a big mean Pro Bowl caliber center for 2010.

  • http://www.Move2Alameda.com KoolKell

    Did you guys see this from D. White?

    Russell has been criticized by Cable publicly, and teammates privately, for not working hard enough off the field. The reason reporters knew about Russell’s absence Monday was because of a tip from a teammate in the locker room who couldn’t hide his disgust.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/raiders/detail?entry_id=54655#ixzz0brZCs3Tu

  • OFL71

    Hows about a REALISTIC list of possible HC that could land in Oakland.
    REALISTIC,not Gruden,Cowher and the like but guys who might actually come coach for Al.
    Any names…..?

  • Zymurge

    @ #352 — I didn’t say anything about Bush’s hands. In fact, I’d say that he catches better than Fargas does. I mentioned his route running, which involves the ability to read, react, no when to chip a guy and flare out, how to find the soft dump off spots underneath a zone, etc. Fargas, IMO, is better at getting open as well as staying in and blocking. Hence, he plays more 1st and 2nd down snaps.

    @ #354 — Please don’t take statements out of context. I said that Fargas “is a more complete back” in comparison to Bush. That’s different than saying that he “is a complete every down back”.

    In fact, the issue is that the Raiders don’t have a true every down back. That’s why they have to play the trio and don’t have a bonfide number one. Yes, all three of them are legit NFL players and each of them would make pretty much every team in the league — and some might even start for teams hurting in the ground game. But none of them currently have the tools to be considered a top 15 RB in the league.

    That said, Bush does have the most upside and at this point is the only one of the three that might develop into a top 15. We’ve seen everything that Fargas can do, and he ain’t getting younger or healthier. But so far, I haven’t seen him advance enough in the passing game, both as a blocker and receiver, to start seeing more 1st and 2nd down snaps.

  • RaiderRockstar

    We need someone in the middle, not the outside.

    ***

    exactly right DMAC. Morrison, Howard & Scott at OLB is good enough. Ricky Brown, Jon Alston & Sam Williams are good for ST or depth, but should NEVER be inserted into the starting line-up.

    Maybe we can develop Slade Norris or David Nixon ?

    re-sign Frantz Joseph. the next Ray Lewis! LOL

  • Richochet

    Stabler76 Says:
    January 6th, 2010 at 11:25 am
    Seems I missed the byline, thanks for your attention to detail.

    I think Dick Fosbury appreciates the fact that Scott thought of him.

    What a feel good moment all around.

    Is Uh…dude? meant to be funny ???

    I just want to make sure you get credit for saying something funny, like you wanted to make sure I gave Scott credit for saying something funny.
    =========================
    Is ‘dude’ meant to be funny?

    Hadn’t really thought about it.
    Prefer something else?

    Dudette? Bud? Pal? Yo? Sasquatch? Ole buddy, ole pal? Bro? Cuz? Homie?

    I’m easy…pick one, or insert your own :)

  • RaiderRockstar

    Russell has been criticized by Cable publicly, and teammates privately, for not working hard enough off the field. The reason reporters knew about Russell’s absence Monday was because of a tip from a teammate in the locker room who couldn’t hide his disgust.

    ***

    blame the OL & WR’s. right KK?

    JaWalrus for 4000 yards & 30 TD’s in 2010

  • RaiderRockstar

    new post!

  • Stabler76

    Kinda partial to —Sasquatch

    Uh….

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  • Raider J

    7 straight yrs of 11 losses or more…is disheartening for a fan. Its not even worth the effort to speculate on what could fix this. I just hope the other teams with 3 SuperBowl wins dont get to 4 before the Raiders.

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