The loss to the San Francisco 49ers has all but erased the euphoria that followed the win over San Diego the week before. The dust has settled and the Raiders are 2 and 4, and the early season expectations are in the process of evaporating—again. The man who will be in the cross-hairs will be head coach Tom Cable.
As the losses pile up the question becomes more a matter of when than if Cable will be given his walking papers and the fifth coach since 2003 will take the helm of the Silver and Black.
The common wisdom outside the walls of 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway is that Hue Jackson is in a sense a “coach in waiting” should Cable stumble. There were even a few whispers that even if the Raiders had a successful season and an offensive explosion that Jackson could be promoted to protect him from being poached, was the conventional wisdom that Jackson was Al’s guy.
Entering week seven of the season, the Raiders are stumbling and Cable cannot be feeling too comfortable in his job security at 2-4 with the sense of “here we go again” coming from the fan base. Meanwhile, the offense under Jackson has not been the dynamic force that had been promised. In fact, the offense is coming off of its worst game since week five of 2009.
As it stands, it would be too early to pull the trigger n Cable. The record is not good, but he has not lost the team. The locker room after the Niners game was a team that was frustrated and hating the feeling of yet another loss. It wasn’t long ago that losses were an accepted part of being a Raider. As of now, it is not tolerated.
If Cable is going to be the third coach of the Al Davis era to be fired midseason to join Mike Shanahan and his immediate predecessor Lane Kiffin, it will be in the second week of November. That will be immediately after their week 9 home game against the Kansas City Chiefs which will complete their first circuit through the AFC West and will be leading into their week 10 bye.
Cable’s best bet to keep his job beyond the bye and lead the Raiders into Pittsburgh to face the Steelers would be to go 2-1 in the next three games. That would put the Raiders at 4 and 5 which would be their best record at that point in the season since 2002, and given the current state of AFC West would have them within striking distance of a division championship.
On the other hand, if the Raiders go 0-3 and limp into the bye at 2-7 with the vultures picking at the carcass of another lost season, it is extremely unlikely that Cable will be there for week 11.
As it currently stands, Cable is the longest tenured Raider head coach since Jon Gruden who held the reins from 1998-2001. Cable surpassed Norv Turner and Bill Calihan’s 32 game mark with the week 5 win over the San Diego Chargers. In his 34 games he has only been able to pull out his 11 wins against 23 losses. Those numbers don’t inspire confidence.
Eight wins on the season buys Cable another year, because that would get the Raiders off their losing ways. It would be a parallel to Jon Gruden’s first two years where he took a 4-12 team to two consecutive 8-8 seasons before two consecutive division championships. However, if Cable doesn’t get to the eight win mark there will be yet another coaching search in the offseason and the process starts all over again.
Cable has worked to change culture of the Oakland Raiders and has had some success, but as the team continues losing, the time for change gets closer.