This is what Al Davis has been reduced to. His impatient nature has certainly got the best of him in recent years. Who can forget the ridiculous amount of money he committed to the worst free agency class ever in ’08?
But by firing Tom Cable, Davis has broken new ground.
The iconic owner’s ego has grown so large that he is now unable to see where his franchise stands in the football universe.
To be sure, the Oakland Raiders are still one of the gold-star franchises in all of sports. Few logos are as popular and have the worldwide recognition as that of the Raiders. But a lot of that has been built on past glory. A past that has haunted every man that has donned a Silver and Black uniform or stood on the sidelines wearing a headset. A glorious past that will never be resurrected if Davis keeps killing the corpse the second it rises from the grave.
Cable is just the latest victim but he won’t be the last. Hue Jackson, I’d suggest renting for now. Don’t get too comfortable.
Cable’s mistakes were many. He clung to his security blanket – Bruce Gradkowski – far too long. He was unable to get his men motivated for lesser opponents (Denver not withstanding). He made some questionable personnel decisions with his offensive line, a unit that was supposed to be his bread and butter. Cable insisted on calling plays when his strong suit was motivating.
Cable also got quite a few things right, though.
He inherited a douche-infested mess left in the wake of Lane Kiffin and by the end of 2008 got the Raiders to dig deep and play some inspired football. He cleansed the once dysfunctional locker room by letting go of headaches like DeAngelo Hall and taking an honest approach with his players. Cable found ways to win despite constant turmoil at the quarterback position. He even managed to convince Davis that he would be better served to sever ties with JaMarcus Russell.
Despite all his accomplishments, Cable’s greatest sin of all was to go against the ridiculous wishes of Al Davis. The same Davis who gave Cable a Darrius Heyward-Bey when he needed a Michael Oher. The same Davis who insisted on playing Russell when two journeymen QB’s gave the team a better chance to win.
Despite all of the obstacles, Cable managed to restore some of that Raider mystique. In 2010 the team adopted a physical identity and began to bully the opposition in ways reminiscent of the glory days in the 70’s. He also returned the Silver and Black to AFC West supremacy as the team went a perfect 6-0 against their most bitter rivals.
While Davis did stand behind Cable amid the chaos of Randy Hanson’s broken jaw and ESPN’s witch hunt, he never issued any type of public support. Simply put, Al sat back and waited for the most opportune time to can Cable.
Davis gets credit for insisting on stripping Cable of play calling duties. Bringing in Jackson helped to take the offense from offensive to explosive. But having a healthy Darren McFadden helped too.
After it is all said and done, Cable’s worst offense was to go against Davis in some very public ways. He chose to put Jason Campbell on a short leash while giving Gradkowski more than enough rope to hang himself. This was a definite mistake though it should be noted Campbell’s early inconsistencies were costly.
None the less, Davis has chosen to cut off his nose to spite his face.
Maybe Jackson will take this team to the top. We certainly hope so. But if you ask the players, to a man, most will tell you they wanted Cable back. He earned their respect. Something management will never have with moves like this.
How Davis justifies cutting down a tree that finally was beginning to bear fruit remains to be seen. At least he spared Cable the embarrassment of wheeling out the projector. For whatever its worth, Cable earned more of Davis’ respect than Kiffin. I guess you just take your moral victories where you can get them.