Tom Cable out as Raiders head coach

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Tom Cable out as Raiders head coach

Jan. 4, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVERAIDERS PAGE RAIDERS VIDEOPaul GutierrezCSNCalifornia.com

His voice still as strong as his personality, Al Davis spoke loud enough for anyone within earshot to notice late Sunday afternoon.The Raiders owner was being escorted to the team bus in the bowels of renovated Arrowhead Stadium and he was lamenting not only running back Darren McFadden not playing in the season finale against the Chiefs, but also rookie lineman Bruce Campbell being inactive. Clearly, it was an indictment against coach Tom Cable and his gameday decisions on which players to dress.As Davis turned a corner, I said hello and asked how he was doing after the Raiders 31-10 blowout victory. He said something to the effect of, not so hot.
REWIND: Raiders end season on winning noteWait, the Raiders had just gone 6-0 in the AFC West and ended a streak of seven straight seasons with at least 11 losses.But 8-8 is a good finish, right? I offered.If thats the world you live in, Davis shot back.No omens or signs were needed after that. Not only was Davis, 81, not thrilled with a .500 finish by Cable, he was angered that the Raiders missed the playoffs for an eighth straight season. The Super Bowl is his birthright, he feels.RELATED: NFL Standings
No marked on-field improvement mattered. Improved chemistry and changing the culture of the locker room meant even less.The Raiders announcing they will not extend the contract of Tom Cable for the position of head coach this evening is a shock in some corners, not a surprise at all in others.It seemingly opens the door for Hue Jackson to assume the reigns, especially since the 49ers earlier in the day requested permission to interview the Raiders first-year offensive coordinator for their vacant head coaching position.
RELATED: 49ers seek interview with Raiders' Jackson
But Raiders senior executive John Herrera said there was no timetable on hiring Cables replacement.We have not talked to anybody yet, Herrera said. Nothings been done. This was a decision that had to be made first.No one has been contacted. This was the first order of business. It was the right thing to do.Semantics? From the moment Jackson was hired away from Baltimore to be the Raiders play caller last January, many saw him as Oaklands coach-in-waiting. And really, the Raiders would not have had to talk to him about the gig because, well, hes already on their payroll.Ive never discussed anything about the possibility of being head coach with Al Davis, Jackson told CSN Bay Areas Henry Wofford. This is news to me.VIDEO: Henry Wofford's Raiders report
Another name sure to surface is Jim Harbaugh. He has already worked in Oakland, knows the dynamic under Davis and, by all accounts, gets along with the owner.Cable, meanwhile, was 17-27 since replacing Lane Kiffin as interim coach five games into the 2008 season. And while it had been heavily reported that Davis had until Jan. 17 to make a decision on whether to exercise the one-year, 2.5-million option on Cable, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed this evening it was actually for two years. Guaranteed.Could that have factored into Davis relatively quick decision to not pick up the existing option? Then consider this: if neither Cable nor Davis find suitable replacements, the two could then conceivably talk again. Perhaps about a one-year deal.But I digress.In his final Monday press conference of the season, Cable was asked about the reports that had him on his way out of town.I know what weve done, Cable said at the time. I think everybody else who knows football knows what weve done. Whoever says or writes it probably doesnt know what the hell theyre doing. You can quote that.Or just listen to Davis after a purported culture-changing victory.What's your take? Email Paul and let him know. He may use it in his Mailbag.

McKenzie: Raiders will take 'different approach' drafting No. 24 overall

McKenzie: Raiders will take 'different approach' drafting No. 24 overall

Khalil Mack said atop Reggie McKenzie’s draft board back in 2014. While it probably felt like forever, the Raiders general manager only had to weather four picks before selecting the star edge rusher at No. 5.

McKenzie loved Amari Cooper in 2015, believing his athleticism and demeanor would pair well with quarterback Derek Carr. Cooper only had to survive three selections before McKenzie made him a Raider.

McKenzie shouldn’t hold his breath this year. The Raiders have the 24th pick. He’d pass out.

The Raiders now experience the downside of success, with lower selections than normal throughout the NFL Draft. They earned top 10 draft picks every year from 2004-15, when the Silver and Black became relevant again. McKenzie selected safety Karl Joseph No. 14 overall last year in his original draft slot, but a 12-4 record and a playoff birth pushed them way down in the draft order.

Thursday’s No. 24 pick will be the lowest since 2003, when the Raiders selected Nnamdi Asomugha 31st following a Super Bowl year.

That obviously turned out well. The Raiders need this deep-round pick to follow suit.

McKenzie likes several players in this draft, but there's no telling if they'll be available. NFL teams have a general idea who will make it down the draft board, but an unexpected move could turn the round upside down.

“The one thing that’s been more difficult, you have no idea who’s coming down at 24,” McKenzie said. “When you’re picking No. 4 or No. 5, you can have a clue, a few players that you can pick from. The draft is a funny thing. Players that you don’t think may be at the 24, could be there sitting right in front of your face.”

McKenzie certainly hopes a highly rated prospect falls in his lap, especially if the best available player fills a position of need. Or the cluster would be empty.

The Raiders must be ready for anything, with a draft cluster of players worthy of that particular pick.

“We’re going to study it continuously until that day,” McKenzie said. “Then you never know how trades go. It’s a different thing. But when you’re down that low in comparison to where we have been the last few years, it’s a different approach.”

Draft trades are always a possibility, especially as the round unfolds. The Raiders are in an interesting spot, a slot above the quarterback-hungry Houston Texans. Teams might want to leapfrog them to secure a coveted passer, giving the Raiders leverage in last-second trade talks to move down.

Reggie McKenzie hasn’t moved up in the first three rounds during his Raiders tenure, but this year might be an exception considering his roster is strong save a few important positions. He won’t leap all the way up the draft board, but a small move up is possible.

“I will not hesitate if I have to move up a little bit to get an impact player that we feel is on our board,” McKenzie said. “If we have to move up a little bit, I will not hesitate.”

Will Raiders GM McKenzie break mold and draft inside linebacker early?

Will Raiders GM McKenzie break mold and draft inside linebacker early?

It’s not like the Raiders haven’t been looking for linebacker help. They just haven’t found any entering this week’s NFL draft.

They brought Zach Brown in for a visit, but he didn’t like the team’s offer and left without a contract. They have interest in bringing last year’s starting middle linebacker Perry Riley back, but their valuations don’t match right now and the veteran remains on the open market. They let two-year starter Malcolm Smith join the 49ers in free agency. 

Right now, the position group is a skeleton crew with brittle bones. Free-agent signing Jelani Jenkins is the only interior linebacker with double digit starts, and could man the weak side, or end up a roving backing.

There isn’t much experience or talent or depth there right now, meaning the Raiders might draft an inside linebacker early for the first time in general manager Reggie McKenzie’s tenure.

Sio Moore was a third round pick in 2013, but was a strongside linebacker and edge rusher before switching spots in deference to Khalil Mack. Outside that, McKenzie took Miles Burris (fourth round) in 2012, and choose Ben Heeney and Neiron Ball (fifth round) in 2015. Those picks haven’t worked out well.

Neither have free-agent stopgaps Curtis Lofton or Nick Roach -- a quality player who fell victim to concussion issues – or waiver claim Ray-Ray Armstrong.

It’s been an unexpected black hole considering McKenzie, head coach Jack Del Rio and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. all played on the inside.

“We want good linebacker play,” McKenzie said. “Both Jack and I know what a good linebacker is supposed to look like. We’re going to get us a couple, I hope, at some point before we play in September. Whether they’re in this draft or post draft or trade, somebody gets released, we’re going to do everything we can to upgrade our team; every position, including linebacker.”

While there are post-draft avenues to acquire inside linebackers, it might be time to go big at that spot.

There are attractive options likely available at No. 24 overall, where the Raiders can find the immediate impact starter they so desperately need. Let’s take a look at some who could be available when the Raiders pick.

Good fits: Raiders fans may shudder at the thought of selecting an Alabama interior linebacker with question marks. That’s expected after the Rolando McClain experience. Ruben Foster (6 feet, 229 pounds) is a top tier talent who could be slipping in this draft. He had a drug sample come back diluted at the NFL scouting combine, where he was sent home for arguing with a hospital employee. He has had shoulder troubles, though re-checks reportedly went well.

Foster is also an excellent player, the type of athletic thumper the Raiders are looking for. It’s still hard to see him sliding all the way to No. 24.

Florida’s Jarrad Davis (6-1, 238), however, seems like a near-perfect fit. He can cover and tackle, with a killer instinct necessary at that spot. He’s also praised as a high-character player and person focused on football. Analysts say he has good vision, closing speed and has physical gifts to help his continued development shoring areas of weakness. Davis has been well hyped recently, and there’s some thought he too could go higher than No. 24.

Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham should be available there, and could ready right away. Analysts says he’s a playmaker with good instincts, technique and play diagnosis. He’s a quality tackler with a nose for the football. He’s durable and fast enough to handle tight ends and running backs in man coverage. Detractors say he isn’t good getting off blocks and struggles with leverage at times, but Cunningham could be a productive three-down NFL linebacker soon.

LSU’s Duke Riley is a quick linebacker who can chase ball carriers down, and finished with a solid senior season. He might be a strong Day 3 pickup should the Raiders target other positions early in this draft.

Note: Temple's Haason Reddick wasn't mentioned here because he isn't expected to be available at No. 24.