For Tom Cable, the honeymoon is over. In fact, it’s been over since the opening night loss to the Chargers in 2009. Cable is, by far, the most liked and appreciated coach to stroll the Oakland sideline since Chucky was scowling at Rich Gannon over 7 years ago. Players and fans alike have grown fond of Cable’s integrity and honest approach to rebuilding the Raiders.
All that is nice but only results will keep Cable employed beyond 2010.
After surviving an offseason that had Cable rumored to be fired at any moment, now is the time to give Al Davis what he covets more than anything else on the planet – wins.
Here are five things Cable must accomplish in 2010 if he desires to remain a head coach in the National Football League.
5. Define the Offense – Aside from Justin Fargas and Zach Miller, the Oakland offense has had very few bright spots in the last 7 years. Fargas, the last 1,000-yard Raider rusher, is now in Donkey Town while Miller’s place in the Pro Bowl could finally be cemented with the arrival of Jason Campbell.
Campbell’s presence alone is not enough to elevate the offense. Cable must get consistent production from the Michael Bush/Darren McFadden duo. While the running game is key, the passing game must become a viable weapon to keep defenses honest. Louis Murphy had a breakout rookie season but must become more consistent in the mental aspects of the game. Darrius Heyward-Bey just needs to get involved in some aspect to validate his lofty paycheck in 2010. Of course, the biggest factor of all could be the health of Chaz Schilens. If healthy, Schilens is a legit #1 option at wide receiver.
Cable now has Hue Jackson to coordinate his offense leaving the head coach to attend to other matters. However, if Cable values his job he’ll be sitting in on a lot of offensive meetings in camp.
4. Win more than 6 games – Yeah, six wins isn’t much to brag about but it would be more wins in any Raiders’ season in the last seven years. Getting to six W’s would still mean double digit losses for the 8th year running. Therefore, Cable needs to get his team to 7 wins at a minimum with the focus of 8+ wins being the ultimate goal.
Given the state of the AFC West, there is a chance that 9 or 10 wins could be enough to take the division. Either way, Cable needs to reinstate the Just Win Baby mentality. Without a drastic improvement, it will be more of the same in Raider Nation as there is no doubt Mr. Davis will begin another coaching search should he see another 11-loss season.
3. Improve the run defense – This should be at the top of this list given the last 7 years of horrendous run D. While Cable, by trade, is an offensive guy, he needs to be in John Marshall’s ear all day/every day if immediate improvements are not seen.
To the credit of the front office, the Raiders made it a point to give the front seven a face lift in 2010. New arrivals Rolando McClain, Kamerion Wimbley, Lamarr Houston and John Henderson are all expected to push the D into the land of respectability this season.
Without much of an offense to speak of over the last two seasons, all opponents had to do was get on top of the Raiders and then simply pound the rock to victory. With an improved offense and a stouter run defense, this could easily assure the Raiders of winning some of the close contests that they’d otherwise lose in previous years.
2. Hold the offensive line accountable – JaMarcus Russell made it all too easy for Raider Haters worldwide last year. However, even Peyton Manning would have had a tough go at it behind the O-line that attempted to protect Russell.
JaMarcus notwithstanding, the Raiders couldn’t run the ball as the opposing defenses didn’t fear the pass, always stacking the box. The O-line failed at getting much of a push and did a horrendous job of protecting the passer as Bruce Gradkowski’s knees can attest.
Addition by subtraction goes without saying when you let Cornell Green walk. But getting Mario Henderson to revert to his stellar play at the end of ’08 is another story. Give Cable credit, the offensive line is his bread and butter and he’s doing all he can to get the most out of the unit at the rate of 50 pushups at a time.
1. Beat the Chargers – Need I recite how long it’s been since the Raiders beat the team from SoCal with the empty trophy case? Is there any doubt that a win over the Chargers in 2010 would be celebrated as loudly as a winning season at this point?
Ok, so if the Raiders went 1-15 and that lone win was over the Dolts, it wouldn’t mean much. But if things go as well as anticipated, beating San Diego could be the difference between tasting the postseason or preparing for the draft the day after the season ends.
Plus, I’ve taken about all the smack I can handle from bandwagon Bolt fans.
All in all Cable has a lot on his plate in this pivotal year in his coaching career. This list could easily be 100 deep in necessary improvements but improving the trenches, giving the offense a pulse and beating the Bolts could all equate to a winning season.
There’s no telling how long of a leash Al Davis has Tom Cable on. One thing is for sure, if Cable wins, he stays. We’ve all got Cable’s back but its time for his locker room presence to show results on the field.
Topics: Al Davis, Bruce Gradkowski, Cornell Green, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hue Jackson, JaMarcus Russell, Jason Campbell, John Henderson, John Marshall, Justin Fargas, Kamerion Wimbley, Lamarr Houston, Louis Murphy, Mario Henderson, Michael Bush, Rolando McClain, Tom Cable, Zach Miller