By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Thursday, January 7th, 2010 at 12:58 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Best guess at this point is still that Tom Cable goes and JaMarcus Russell stays, but to assume the their fates are intertwined would be to ignore how Al Davis operates.
When Cable said at his season-ending press conference the Raiders could have been a playoff team had it not been for quarterback play, it was viewed in some quarters as a “him or me” moment.
How could the Raiders possibly have Cable back as the coach and Russell still on the roster?
The same way they had Lane Kiffin as head coach and Rob Ryan, a coach he did not want, as defensive coordinator.
The same way they kept Mike Lombardi around even though Art Shell considered him a “fox in the hen house,” knowing that Lombardi had pushed for Bobby Petrino as the head coach.
The same way Shell and Jerry Porter, the moody No. 2 receiver, were allowed into a season-long cold war that benefitted no one.
The same way Randy Hanson showed up back at work on Dec. 9 in the same building as the man against whom he had hoped to press charges for assault.
The same way Shell was put in the position of having Marcus Allen stifled on the bench while his teammates smoldered because Allen had waged a public war with Davis over money after rejecting a lucrative contract offer.
Although both Cable and Kiffin have espoused changing the culture, promoted locker room harmony and a “playing for each other” philosophy, Davis doesn’t believe in chemistry. He considers it nonsense, something players say about a team after it has won games.
“I don’t believe in chemistry” is right up there with “I don’t believe in chain of command” in Davis’ press conference statements which explain a lot about the organization.
You put the most talented group of players together as possible, don’t concern yourself with how they fit together, and it’s up to the coaches to get them ready to play, ready to win.
If there are disagreements or issues along the way, so be it. There will be conflict among men in any endeavor of high competition. That Cable and Randy Hanson had issues was no big deal. The problem from Davis’ perspective was that it got Cable in the news, along with the ESPN allegations of alleged domestic violence, and Davis would prefer his coaches to recede into the silver and black background.
Here Davis had given Cable the opportunity he’d always coveted, and Cable winds up a daily news story for reasons other than play on the field.
He’s also got issues with 17 touchdowns in 16 games and another 5-11 record.
Davis isn’t pleased with Russell, either. Otherwise, he would have never told Cable, “You’re the coach, you make the call,” knowing full well his handpicked quarterback would be sent to the bench.
Judging from the public backing of the Russell-in-Vegas brushfire and common sense, the quarterback isn’t going anywhere for the time being. Davis bided his time with Robert Gallery, Michael Huff and Nnamdi Asomugha, he’ll do the same for Russell unless there are issues with go far beyond work ethic and immaturity. He’s not worried about how keeping Russell will “lose the locker room” because there’s no locker room to be lost. It doesn’t exist.
But if Cable goes, Russell will be only a small part of the equation. Davis has never cared about chemistry before, and there’s no reason to think he’s changed his philosophy.
If Cable somehow makes it through, chances are Russell will be there as well, as well as a round of minicamp and training camp stories wondering how it could have possibly happened.
Harbaugh . . . again
In an annual rite of January, Profootballtalk.com became the outlet to throw out the first Harbaugh, reporting that Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh is a “stealth” candidate for the Raiders (and Bills) job.
Any chance he can bring Andrew Luck with him?
Also a familiar name in the rumor mill _ Montreal Alouettes coach and former Raiders coach Marc Trestman, per National Football Post.