With players scheduled to report in 10 days, the seventh in a series of questions and issues to be sorted out at training camp in Napa:
Can less be more for Tom Cable?
It was a different Tom Cable that emerged from the speculation on his job status following a 5-11 season and the unwanted publicity stemming from allegations of assault from an assistant coach and domestic abuse by ESPN.
In the end, no charges were filed in the Randy Hanson affair, and the NFL didn’t deem the ESPN revelations worthy of even a slap on the wrist.
Common sense says Cable’s status was tenuous. He is, after all, 9-19 as a head coach and his boss is Al Davis. And while the Raiders displayed plenty of fight on some Sundays, there were those inexplicable blowouts and no-shows, the blame for which eventually fell more on the shoulders of JaMarcus Russell than the head coach.
Cable was not only happily stripped of Russell, but relinquished many of his coaching hats as well.
By nature, Cable concedes he is one of those coaches who when confronted with a problem, is more comfortable rolling up his sleeves and taking care of it himself rather than delegating a subordinate for the repair.
Following the firing of Lane Kiffin, when the offense struggled under Greg Knapp, Cable took over the duties of play-caller. Last season, Cable added the title of offensive coordinator and still called plays, with Ted Tollner coming in as “passing game coordinator” and Paul Hackett as quarterbacks coach.
When the offensive line struggled, Cable stepped in during drills and meetings and took over, with line coach Jim Michalczik looking like a lost spectator wearing Raiders gear.
Following the season, when talking to the media, Cable admitted he had overextended himself, and it’s clear that in making his case to return, sold the boss on the idea that less would be more.
When the Raiders returned to public view, the dominant voice during minicamp and OTA sessions open to the media was offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who will be the new play-caller and be responsible for the direction of the offense.
Michalczik ran the drills with the offensive line and handled most of the instruction, with Jackson stepping in as well as the coordinator will include some power blocking schemes to go along with Cable’s zone concepts. This is significant, because Cable resisted any suggestion of changing the blocking in the past.
The Cable that emerged from last season and Hansongate has been more, ahem, “hands off.” He goes from unit to unit, pulling a small notebook out to jot down a few ideas, and he addresses the team en masse following practice. But he hasn’t been nearly the imposing and vocal presence which took over for Kiffin and looked to overpower the job through force of will.
He said he loves the new arrangement, which allows him to look at things in a different way and explore new ideas.
The trick is to remain an authority figure and have control of the locker room _ something Cable has done surprisingly well despite a unique environment which has seen other coaches throw up their hands in frustration _ while at the same time taking a step back in terms of the on-field coaching.
Previous camp questions:
RAIDERS, MAKE-A-WISH AND JAILEN COOPER
Check out the ESPN feature on the visit of 10-year-old Jailen Cooper.
It was filmed on May 26 at an OTA session open to the media, with the Raiders going above and beyond the call to make Cooper and his mother Jessie feel special. The day culiminated with Cooper making a “tackle” of his favorite player, running back Darren McFadden.
By the way, at the end of the film clip, that was me asking Cooper if he hurt McFadden with his tackle.