By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, December 13th, 2010 at 4:00 pm in Oakland Raiders.
For a guy who should be embittered and embattled, given the reported tension in the building with his offensive coordinator, Raiders coach Tom Cable appeared to relish the opportunity to address his issues with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
“The only truth is that we were just laughing about it upstairs,’’ Cable said. “There’s absolutely no issue between Hue and I. We have a prior relationship. He’s doing a marvelous job. That’s stupidity on (the part of) whoever wrote it. We had a lot of fun with it upstairs.’’
The report in Yahoo! Sports was by Jason Cole, the same person who reported the problems with 49ers offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, saying players were losing faith in the offense. Coach Mike Singletary denied it, but Raye was out as offensive coordinator after three games.
Even with the Raiders gaining 476 yards offense in a 38-31 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, it’s not as if Cable didn’t provide some grist for the rumor mill.
During a sequence in the third quarter when Kyle Boller temporarily replaced Jason Campbell at quarterback, and the Raiders failed to get the ball to Darren McFadden on either third-and-3 or fourth-and-3, this was Cable’s assessment of the play-calling:
“I don’t know,’’ Cable said. “That’s not for me to decide right now.’’
Not exactly a resounding vote of confidence.
The positive affirmation came on Monday.
Asked if he ever overrules calls made by Jackson, Cable said, “I don’t need to. He’s good at what he does. He did a hell of a job yesterday. I got asked about the third-and-3 and the fourth-and-3 calls. They were two great calls. We just didn’t execute them.’’
He said he will be involved while discussing options, but that it is Jackson that ultimately “absolutely’’ makes the play call.
Cable reiterated he and Jackson have a “prior relationship,’’ having coached together at Cal (1996) and Fullerton State (1990).
Without refuting the Yahoo report _ Cole is very good at what he does and is well-sourced throughout the league _ it’s worthwhile to remember how the Raiders came to have a new offensive coordinator in the first place.
With Cable operating as head coach, offensive coordinator, play-caller and also being heavily involved with the offensive line, the Raiders suffered offensively. JaMarcus Russell was a big part of the problem, but another issue was that Cable had spread himself too thin.
At his season-ending press conference, Cable admitted as much, saying he had too much on his plate. He made it clear he was fine with having an offensive coordinator, something he surely discussed with Al Davis.
So Davis went out and got Jackson, and it’s not as if Cable was in a position to dispute it. He could be on board or he could be gone.
Any tension in this scenario wouldn’t come from the play-calling, it would be from the fact that Jackson accepted the job in part because he wants to be a head coach some day and that part of that process meant turning around the offense in Oakland.
From the time Cable took over play-calling duties from Greg Knapp, the Raiders scored 31 touchdowns in 24 games and averaged 13.6 points per game. Under Jackson, the Raiders have 29 touchdowns in 13 games and average 24.2.
Oakland has gone from 31st in scoring last season to ninth.
So Cable is obviously in no position to “undercut’’ the offensive coordinator and he’s too smart to try if he wants to remain head coach.
More news and notes from Monday’s press briefing:
— The days of tunnel vision are over. The Raiders are officially watching the scoreboard.
“Let’s be real about it. You’ve got to be a 49er fan on Thursday and a Rams fan on Sunday,’’ Cable said. “That’s where it starts, and we’ve got to take care of yourselves.
“We had a real opportunity yesterday that got away from us. The reality of it is we have to win out and we need a little help here, but if that’s the way it’s supposed to turn out it will and we’ll find a way to get it done.’’
— Those of you who think Cable too often withholds compliments directed toward Campbell will be happy to hear the quarterback got rave reviews.
“I will say this to you: Yesterday was Jason’s finest day. There’s no question – how he played, what he did with his feet. He made three audibles in that game. One of them was the long run that Darren (McFadden) had for the touchdown,’’ Cable said. “He made two others in the passing game. He was on point.
“He missed a couple of things. Every guy would go back and look at a game and say he could have done a few things better. Definitely it was his finest moment as a Raider. So hopefully we keep getting better now.”
— Back to the Boller possession. The reason Sebastian Janikowski didn’t attempt a 48-yard field goal on fourth-and-3 was that it was against a howling wind. Cable said after conferring with Janikowski, the Raiders would have needed to be inside the 25-yard line to try a field goal in that direction.
— The challenge on the 74-yard run by Rashad Jennings was made not because of what coaches thought they saw on tape, but from what they thought they saw right along their own sideline.
Cable said if he would have had a challenge left on David Garrard’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Mike Sims-Walker, the replay would have showed the receiver had one foot out of bounds at the time of the catch.
— The reason Nnamdi Asomugha wasn’t on the field when the Raiders went to their five-safety package was that he has occasionally been off the field because of his ankle issues.
That happened to be one of those times _ and Michael Huff was beaten for a 48-yard touchdown by Jason Hill.
— The seemingly doormant “big play’’ problem the Raiders had defensive reared its head in a big way.
“It’s missed tackles when you really break it down,’’ Cable said.
— Middle linebacker Rolando McClain’s foot issue may not be arthritis or tendonitis, given the fact the Raiders are still “investigating,’’ according to Cable. He said there aren’t any other physical problems.
“It’s just the foot. Today his rehab stuff was really pretty good, but he still has an issue with it, and we’re going to continue to research it and figure out exactly what’s going on here,’’ Cable said. “(He) felt better last week, at the same time, but not good enough yesterday.”
McClain missed practice all week.