Oakland Raiders coaching search: Tom Cable is out and Hue Jackson is reportedly in. The Raiders have switched from Cable to satellite and the first thing on is an "Action Jackson" Marathon. While the Raiders have not made an announcement, sources close to Hue Jackson have said that he is going to be the next Raiders coach. While that may be close to, but not quite a certainty, one thing is crystal clear: The Tom Cable era in Oakland is over.
For the sake of this article, I am working under the assumption that Hue Jackson will be the next head coach. While it is dangerous to assume things with the Raiders, it is the only move that makes sense. The Raiders do not rush to make announcements to the press. They still had a couple of weeks before the deadline on Cable's option.
The clandestine Raiders do not make things public, unless and until, they have to. They also do not pay coaches the kind of money it would take to bring in John Harbaugh or Jon Gruden. This was the only coaching move they were likely to make that would require them to move quickly. While Hue Jackson is still under contract, as the leading Rooney Rule candidate, he was in line to be interviewed for every coaching vacancy in the NFL and no one knows better the impression Jackson can make in an interview than Al Davis.
There is also a strong possibility that this is what Al Davis had intended all along when he brought in Jackson. Give him a one-year test run; set-up a smooth transition and barring a spectacular season make Jackson the coach.
Just so you know where I am coming from, I liked Tom Cable. I thought he had done an admirable job and I thought he deserved another year. While the offense improved under Jackson, Jackson was not hamstrung by the presence of a fat, stoned and stupid QB.
But here we are. Tom is out and Hue is in and it is not greatly affecting my perception of next season.
Let's take a look at what it will mean to the team. As the season neared it's end, various players had voiced their support for Tom Cable and then more did as the word of his dismissal went public.
Mike Mitchell, Quentin Groves, Jarvis Moss and Jacoby Ford all expressed surprise in their twats, or they tweeted (I don't know these newfangled terms of communication) after the move was announced. Tyvon Branch added, "Good luck to Coach Cable he's a great coach and person I wish him the best."
Michael Huff took his tweet a step further when he said, "I'm ready for this Mega Millions lottery tonight......when I win I'm gonna buy the Raiders." At least, I think he did. That seems like he was frustrated with the move, but maybe not. I'd try to buy the Raiders if I won the Mega Millions, too and that would be regardless of their circumstances. These tweets are vague. Let's get some real quotes.
Robert Gallery had this to say, "It's definitely a step back from what we've done going forward the last year or two." Cable resurrected Gallery's career by switching him from tackle to guard and gallery, admirably, has had his back ever since.
Zach Miller appreciated Cable's honesty. "He's always been like that and he's always motivated us to play as hard as we can every chance we get," Miller added about Cable's style. "You see that most of the time on the field. ... The guys respect that."
The most vocal about his desire to have Cable come back and then with his frustration over his dismissal has been the longest tenured player, Shane Lechler. "You're going to for darned sure lose Robert Gallery now," Lechler wasn't through with players that he said were going to leave. "You're going to lose Michael Bush now, for sure. You're going to lose a bunch of guys that are great football players and just because of this move."
Lechler is emotional for a punter. I hope that doesn't ever cloud his holding abilities. This is the same guy that had been frustrated with losing season after losing season and had resolved himself to leaving the Raiders in his free agency that followed the 2007 season.
Then you know what happened? Lechler took the contract offered by the Raiders that made him the highest paid kicker in the history of the NFL. He then ended up playing for a coach and a team that inspired him to make these recent comments about players leaving because they'd be upset over the state of the franchise.
Lechler can say that he knows players are leaving, but those players are going to have to place their principles over money and the respect they tie to it, more than he did. Just like he, and almost every other player in the NFL, they will go where the money is. Al Davis does not often lose players he wants to keep.
Of the two he specifically mentioned, leaving the team might not even be up to him. Michael Bush probably won't even be an unrestricted free agent. It depends on the new CBA, but at four years of service, Bush is likely to be restricted. Gallery is another story. At seven years of service, he is almost assured to be an unrestricted free agent no matter what terms are negotiated in the CBA.
My point is, there seems to be a gross overreaction to this move. There will not be a mutiny in the locker room as Cam Inman wrote and some fans worry.
In the end, we have quoted nine players out of 52 and most of those quotes were not hinting at mutiny, but of surprise and well-wishes and respect for Cable. They will recover and it will be a relatively smooth transition to Jackson.
In reality, this transition will probably mean less of an adjustment then keeping Cable and losing Jackson as the guy calling the offensive plays will probably remain the same. That means Jason Campbell will finally have the luxury of playing in the same system two years in a row.
Speaking of Campbell, I am guessing he is one of a silent group of players that are happy with this move. The Quarterback carousel took its toll on Campbell. Darren McFadden may also be in this group. McFadden flourished with Jackson's added power-blocking schemes.
The offense had already transitioned from Cable's to Jackson's. It would be foolish to think that there was not already Cable guys and Jackson guys in the locker room. The players already demonstrated that they were mature enough and had enough respect for both coaches to not let it turn into a team cancer.
People can worry and speculate that this will wreck the improving chemistry of this team, but I am not buying that. The team chemistry improved, because the Raiders brought in hard working players and junked money sponges like Russell. The team chemistry improved, because they won games. The team chemistry improved and Hue Jackson was one of the most vocal presences on the team from the first day of training camp.
This figures to be a long offseason and when the labor agreement is settled, most of these guys, if not all of them, will just be happy to be on the field, making money again.
As a rookie head coach, Hue Jackson is a variable, but he has demonstrated that he has enough energy and confidence to get this team excited about their chances in the upcoming season. The sadness and frustration, that some players are feeling, over the loss of Cable will be a memory by the time the season starts.
Al has not made a move of senility, as everyone outside of--and many within--seem to be suggesting. The haters will continue to hate. They will, and have, used this as a sign of Al's incompetence. I am not buying that either.
He felt the team underachieved. He saw the improvements in the offense that Hue Jackson, the coach he hand-picked, made and he is going to promote him to coach. He knows the players will get over it and the ones whose contracts are up will stay if he pays them. This is a low-risk move.
In the end, I wanted Cable to return, because I liked the idea of Hue having another year to improve as a play caller when he was just a play caller, but with Hue getting interest for other head coaching jobs, this was a shrinking possibility. I expect he will still be calling the plays next year and that means he will be in his first year as head coach and only his second as a play caller. It will be an adjustment.
There are other questions lingering. Hue will need to surround himself with a good staff. Will he have the luxury, that Cable did not, of hiring his own staff? Also, will Hue completely ditch the zone blocking system in favor of his power-blocking scheme and how will that affect the lineman?
In the end, this move does not diminish my hope for next season. The personnel moves, players and coordinators, that are going to follow will have a much greater impact on that hope.