Funny how this game is played. Not talking about the one on the field though. No, we’re talking about the games played off the field. More to the point, the games played by the national media.
When the Raiders began the season by losing two of three, the rumors of a rift between Tom Cable and Hue Jackson were the early headlines. It was widely speculated that Jackson was being groomed by Al Davis to inherit Coach Cable’s job before season’s end. Well…one three game winning streak later and wouldn’t you know it…all was right in Raider Nation.
Suddenly the Silver and Black were America’s Team. The Raiders were winning despite the perceived background dysfunction.
Then, a couple of losses that have all but ended any playoff hopes occur and once again the Cable-Jackson feud is back on.
In the backdrop of this season for the Raiders has been tension. Head coach Tom Cable was angered when owner Al Davis brought in Hue Jackson to be the offensive coordinator in January, according to a team source. Since then, people close to Jackson have privately accused Cable of trying to undercut the coordinator. Jackson has been so unhappy with the situation that associates have been pushing him for a number of openings in the pro and college ranks, including for the University of Miami job.
Now, this storyline is nothing new. We’ve heard about these rumblings all season long and given Cable’s history with Al’s hires (Randy Hanson, anyone?) you didn’t need Sam Spade to sniff this one out. Just funny how this roller coaster ride rolls when things are going well then jumps off the tracks the second the tracks aren’t as smooth.
Before going all martyr, let’s be clear that this game is not isolated to the Raiders. Plenty of fans in Minnesota and Dallas can attest to just how rapidly the headlines change when things go from bad to worse. That’s just the way this game is played.
So long as the Raiders aren’t in the discussion for the Super Bowl we’ll continue to see these same stories repeated because that is the reputation associated with the franchise. In fact, even when Oakland is on top there is still the need to state that they’re winning in spite of the dysfunction.
Who really knows what’s going on behind those closed doors? Fact of the matter is Coach Cable needed to be relieved of his play calling duties. You can’t even begin to make a case for Cable after what we’ve seen this year. Perhaps Jackson isn’t the visionary necessary to take this team to the top but he’s done more than enough to prove his presence was sorely needed.
All coaches have egos. The dirtiest secret in the sports world is that the most massive egos aren’t found on the field but instead on the sideline. It takes a Jared Veldheer sized ego to tell paid professionals who make more cake than you that your way is the only way. To be sure, Cable must have been butt hurt at having to admit his play calling wasn’t cutting it. Another area Cable faltered in was his desperate desire to hold onto Bruce Gradkowski as his quarterback. By all accounts, the offense is better under Jackson and led by Jason Campbell.
Now, how much of that stems from the fact that Coach Davis selected his own man or if Cable and Jackson just don’t get along for whatever reason is debatable. All I know is this is the nature of professional sports. Every single franchise has behind the scenes drama. Just funny how these things come to light at the most opportune times.
This is not the last we’ll hear of this. You can count on that. Just know that if the miracle of all miracles occurs and the Raiders are in the postseason there won’t be much more than a whimper of this storyline.