RAIDERS COACH Tom Cable remains under investigation. But in a good way. As in, can the man coach?
He still needs to convince a jury of football fans he can pull off the most daunting coaching job at the NFL's wackiest workplace. So far, the jury is deadlocked, more so because the Raiders' recent past obscures Cable's legitimate potential.
Cable spent most of last season lugging around the tricky "interim coach" tag. This season, he's had a different alias: potential defendant in a felony assault case.
Now that he won't be charged in the Randy Hanson assault/lecture, it's time to take off the gloves, so to speak. Feel free to truly scrutinize what Cable has done, is doing and can do — strictly as Raiders coach.
Is he really the coach of the league's worst-ranked offense? Or is he the coach who can rally a maligned unit for an upset win (see: last Sunday's vs. Philadelphia)?
"I've been around Hall of Fame coaches, and Tom Cable has all those qualities, plus some," Raiders defensive coordinator John Marshall said Thursday.
This isn't the first time Marshall vouched for Cable, mind you. Marshall was at the flash point of the Aug. 5 training-camp incident that left Hanson, a defensive assistant, with a broken jaw, via a still murky combination of stern lecturing and human dominoes.
On Thursday, the Napa County district attorney announced Cable would not be charged with assault, mainly because of inconsistencies in Hanson's tale and opposing testimony from the three witnesses, Marshall and fellow assistants Willie Brown and Lionel Washington.
"We're happy for Tom that's off his back," Marshall said. —... You always have to be happy when the truth comes out. I felt in my heart it was a matter of getting all the facts cleared up."
Throughout the saga, Cable admirably kept his, ahem, chin up. He never gave the impression he lost focus on his coaching duties, even if his club sustained terrible losses this month at Houston and at the New York Giants.
Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said of Cable: "He's a guy who knows how to stay focused regardless of what's going on around him."
That, folks, is a definite job requirement for any Raiders coach or player.
Off the field, Cable exercised his right to remain silent rather than add to the legal "turmoil."
"That's not what I'm here to do," Cable said. "I'm here to be the Oakland Raiders football coach and get this team to win and turn it around. That needed to be my focus, and I think it was. I think we handled that the right way."
We, as in his vast supporters. He received more backing than any Raiders coach in recent memory, and that goes beyond how "the D.A. did a tremendous job in laying out exactly what went down," Cable said.
Al Davis didn't cave to Hanson's unknown (but likely monetary) demands. Cable's players backed him from the day this story broke, chanting "Cable, Bumaye!" while they stretched in training camp. His coaches, not surprisingly, didn't rat him out, though it's worth noting the D.A. never claimed he was a dirty rat.
Cable is a likable guy, so people stuck up for him. Time now for him to clear up his win-loss record, and he's attempting this while wearing too many hats (coach/play caller/offensive line guru).
Marshall offered a four-pronged compliment for why Cable is a "very good" coach, all of which are legitimate points.
No. 1: Cable relates very well to players, knows their needs and says the right things to them.
No. 2: Cable, unlike most NFL coaches, works for the franchise he grew up cherishing. "Tom has truly been a Raiders' guy," Marshall said. "This is a dream come true for him, to be the head coach of a football team he's always admired and watched."
No. 3: Cable is shrewd, and as Marshall advised, don't let the dairy-farmer stories fool you.
No. 4: Cable's ability to be straightforward is his most touted attribute in the locker room. "He's honest, upfront, pulls no punches," Marshall said. "That's good for players and coaches. But he drives them hard and pushes everyone to make them the best."
Sunday's game against the reeling New York Jets is the biggest in Cable's 19-game tenure. Can his blockers protect JaMarcus Russell from blitzes? Can a wide receiver emerge over the middle where Russell's throws are more accurate? Can Raiders pass rushers hassle rookie QB Mark Sanchez? Can the linebackers stop Jets running back Thomas Jones from bouncing outside for long runs?
Most important, can Cable keep the Raiders from being overconfident after their upset of the Eagles? Answered Cable: "What do we have to be confident about? We're 2-4."
Oh yeah, there is that incriminating evidence about his coaching record. Let this investigation resume Sunday.
Contact Cam Inman at firstname.lastname@example.org.