The Cable guy needs some respect
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 22, 2010
By Mark "The King" Wald
Cold, Hard Football Facts black & white TV technician
Yeah, he shows up 45 minutes later than the four-hour window they promised on the phone. He doesn't have the best hygiene. And leaves sawdust all over the house.
But isn't it time to show a little love for the Cable guy? After all, he works for a company that doesn't care about its customers, he's severely underpaid, and his boss treats him like a serf.
That's right, we're talking about Raiders head coach Tom Cable.
Cable doesn't garner a lot of respect from NFL fans. Anyone who works for whack-job Al Davis is going to be guilty by association straight out the gate. Cable also looks like one mean bastard who might go Altamont on you with a pool cue if you're not careful. He certainly isn't winning football games (10-20).
But Cable's managed to do something as Raiders coach not seen since the days of John Gruden: stand up to the doddering old fool without getting canned.
In the last year or two, Cable's publicly criticized, benched, and played a part in waiving a prized Raiders first round draft choice (JaMarcus Russell), then benched the next Jim Plunkett after six quarters (Jason Campbell). He thrashed a Raiders assistant (and apparent die-hard Davis sycophant), and survived a nasty domestic violence allegation that would have most PR-conscious NFL front offices running for cover.
(Clearly, the evidence might indicate that Cable has some issues. We're not here to praise him as a person, especially if he's whacking chicks. In which case, he's a clown in need of a beating with one of those pool cues. We're just talking football here.)
The Cold, Hard Football Facts has already documented the disaster of the Oakland's passing game under first-round draft pick JaMarcus Russell, whose shortcoming weren't lost on Cable. When he took over Oakland's head coaching reigns in 2008, Cable publicly challenged Russell to step up his game.
It's worth noting that shortly before naming Cable as coach that Davis referred to Russell as "a great player we can win with" and told then-coach Lane Kiffin (who was supposedly against drafting Russell) to "get over it and coach this team on the field." Not long after, Davis canned Kiffin.
By the second half of last season, Cable had seen enough of Davis's prize draft pick and sat him down for Bruce Gradkowski. The replacement led the Raiders – 2-7 at that point – to two wins in the next four games including a big win against the Steelers in Week 13.
Going 2-2 in four games isn't exactly the stuff of legends, but Gradkowski's passer rating of 80.6 in 2009 was the highest rating by a Raider quarterback since Rich Gannon's three-game swan song of 86.9 in 2004. Just when Cable appeared ready to roll with Gradkowski the rest of the season, he tore the MCL in both knees and was finished.
This offseason, Cable apparently convinced Davis that Russell wasn't the guy around whom to build a franchise, and the former No. 1 pick was cut. That was the first sign Cable might have whatever passes for stones in the Raiders organization.
But Davis also had other ideas, bringing in Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell. Imagine Cable's relief at finally dropping Russell's dead weight only to realize he'd just picked up another barnacle (Campbell was an improvement over Russell, but that's not saying much).
So it wasn't a complete surprise when Cable benched Campbell last Sunday after struggling against the Rams. Picking up where he left off last year, Gradkowski came off the bench, led three scoring drives, and the Raiders held on for the win.
Benching your starter when they don't perform might be routine business on most NFL teams. But when you make that move coaching the Raiders you find yourself humiliated in public and reduced to a JPEG image on a Powerpoint deck, with the remains of your annual salary funneled to Davis's team of attorneys who will use the funds to humiliate you more. Forget about getting any help from the league office; they're too scared to touch Davis.
So for whatever its worth, Cable seems to have bought himself a little respect with the old man.
In the bizarre world that the Raiders inhabit, this development might be a step in the right direction.
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