Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network reported that Cable is likely history. A day later, his status remains unclear.
The Raiders went .500 this year, something they haven't done since 2002. In fact, in that time, they've never had a record better than 5-11. They had the league's second-best rushing game. They finished sixth in the league in scoring offense. They swept everyone in their own division. They had playoff hopes right up until the end of the season.
For the first time in a long time, opposing teams couldn't look at the Raiders game on their schedule and say, "That one's a win." The Raiders are no longer the sweet game.
These are all different ways of saying that the Raiders made huge, huge strides this year. Not only were they a good team, but they're young and improving, too. That they wouldn't want to stay the course is baffling.
Cable makes his own case pretty well (via NFL.com):
"We certainly got this thing back on its feet, and we're very proud of that," Cable said Monday. "You can't call us losers anymore, at least from this point forward. That's a huge accomplishment for this team, particularly for the guys who have been around here for a number of years, and the organization itself. It gives everybody, the city of Oakland, everybody in football, something to look forward to as we move forward."
I can think of three reasons why the owner would even consider firing Cable (and I'm just speculating here): One, he wants a bigger name and flashier presence on the sidelines. Two, he wants someone to run a particular style of offense or defense, and Cable doesn't fit that well enough. Or three, he expected this team to be even better than .500 this season.
One and two would be very, very dumb, not to mention indicative of a man who doesn't have "winning football games" at the top of his list of priorities. If it's three, then the man has lost all grip on reality.
The team has an option to retain Cable for the next two years at a reasonable price, but it doesn't have to decide until Jan. 17. We could end up waiting a while to see if it wants to continue to improve, or if it wants to continue being the Raiders.
- Tom Cable