A canvassing of the Raiders locker room Monday revealed unanimous support for coach Tom Cable coming back for a fourth season in his current capacity.
Cable replaced Lane Kiffin four games into the 2008 season as the interim coach. Managing general partner Al Davis removed the interim tag after the 2008 season and entusted the Raiders fortune to Cable, who was the Raiders offensive line coach in 2007 and the first four games of the ’08 season.
The Raiders went 4-8 under Cable in 2008, 5-11 last season and are at 7-8 this season. Already, the Raiders have won more games this season than they did in any of the previous seven campaigns. To a man, Raiders players say Davis needs to exercise the option he holds on Cable’s contract.
“It would be a huge setback,” punter Shane Lechler said. “We’ve invested so much of our time and there’s been so much commitment starting from the day he took over. Not only this year. He had a plan. The plan is working. It would be a terrible disappointment if there was a change because he’s the guy for this job. This job is for a blue-collar, hard-nosed coach. That’s what we need.”
Lechler is playing for his sixth coach since he arrived in Oakland in 2000 — Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Kiffin and Cable. He said he’s tired of hearing from new coaches who promise change and fall short on the delivery part.
With Cable, the Raiders are making steady progress and headed in the right direction, Lechler said.
“You can’t have a flashy guy come in,” Lechler said. “I’ve heard it too many times. Every coach comes in, ‘Oh, I’m going to fix this. I’m going to turn this thing around.’ (B.S.). You can’t say that every time because people start calling your bluff. … Cable’s the hard-nosed, blue-collar guy that we need for this job.”
On it went, from one end of the locker room to the other, with player after player singing Cable’s praises and lobbying for his return. The support came from offensive, defensive and special teams players.
“Obviously, I don’t make that decision,” left guard Robert Gallery said. “I know this locker room wants that. We need that. We didn’t accomplish what we wanted to this year, going to the playoffs, but we definitely took a step forward from where we’ve been. He’s a big reason for that step.”
Tight end Zach Miller said that Cable has garnered the respect of the players because of his no-nonsense approach. Players know what to expect, where they stand and how things are going to be day in, day out.
“He tells it like it is,” Miller said. “He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He’s honest with us. He tells us exactly how things are, what he needs from us, how he wants us to work, how he wants us to keep grinding as a football team and keep getting better. He’s always been like that and he’s always motivated us to play as hard as we can every chance we get. You see that most of the time on the field. … The guys respect that. All the guys respect coach Cable for being like that.”
First-year Raiders linebacker Quentin Groves said he is impressed with the way Cable is in tune with his players’ needs and does more than pay lip service to looking out for their well being.
“We love him, man, and he’s a great guy to play for,” Groves said. “He’s a player’s coach, and I never knew what that was until I came here. He is really a player’s coach. He doesn’t beat your body down, he takes care of your body during the season. He is actually a player’s coach and I would hate to see him go.”
Cable said he hasn’t spoken with Davis about his long-term status. For now, his thoughts are centered on the Chiefs game.
“I haven’t even thought about it yet because of what we’ve been trying to do here in the last month,” Cable said. “It’s really been probably the furthest thing from my mind. As we get done with the season, we’ll have a couple, two- or three-week period there here, it will be time for all that. But right now, I just want to concentrate on trying to win that eighth game and seeing if we can go 6-0 in the division. So, in all fairness to that question or situation, I just haven’t thought about it yet.”
Cable doesn’t sound like a man worried about his job security, though he admits he wants to stick around for at least another season.
“I’m good at what I do,” Cable said. “So I’m going to coach football. That’s just what I do. In terms of being here and all that, I know that I want to coach this football team. But that’s for after the season, in terms of how it’s discussed and when it’s discussed.”