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.

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

Lynch outcome should determine whether Raiders draft a running back

It’s officially NFL draft week. Marshawn Lynch still isn’t a Raider.

A contract impasse remained as of Sunday morning, a few days before general manager Reggie McKenzie’s desire for a by-Thursday resolution.

Deadlines, even soft ones, prompt deals. But Marshawn is unique, adding a level of uncertainty to procedings. 

The Raiders would prefer Lynch agree to terms on a new contract so they can acquire his rights from Seattle -- that’s the easier part – and know where they stand heading into the NFL Draft.

McKenzie left several doors cracked during a Friday pre-draft presser, saying Lynch’s presence wouldn’t stop him from drafting a rusher, not having the Oakland native wouldn’t guarantee it, and that there’s always a chance Lynch could come later no matter what happens during amateur selection.

Those things could be true. Or, you know, not. McKenzie prefers mystery this time of year.

Bottom line: The Raiders need a bigger back to pair with smaller, yet elusive runners DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard.

The Raiders want Lynch to fill the void. Ditto for Raider Nation, especially the Oakland state. A few free-agent options remain, including LaGarrette Blount. Or the Raiders could draft a back, something the Raiders have done well in later rounds.

They got Latavius Murray in the sixth round four years back, and he provided quality before changing uniforms this offseason. They got Washington in the fifth last time and pulled Richard from undrafted free agency. They could mine talent again this year. Waiting seems more likely if Lynch is around. 

Quality abounds in this draft class, with several worthy of early selections and talent easily found late. Let’s inspect McKenzie’s draft options at running back, should he need one:

Good fits: It’s hard to see the Raiders looking at a rusher in the first round, considering the draft’s depth at the position and major defensive needs. A first-round talent might be considered in the second. If controversial former Oklahoma rusher Joe Mixon is available following a free fall due to off-field issues described in detail here, a running back might come early.

Tennessee’s Alvin Kamara could be another Day 2 option, an explosive talent who analysts say has wiggle and power to create coveted yards after contact. He could be a three-down back thanks to quality as a receiver.

Odds are, however, the Raiders will look deeper into the draft. Wyoming’s Brian Hill was an excellent college producer who runs strong and might fit well into the Raiders rotation. Round projections vary, but he should be available on Day 3.

Pittsburgh’s James Conner offers great power at 233 pounds. He could run through tacklers and wear down defenses for the Raiders’ shift backs. He's also well known for drive and work ethic. He is projected as a fifth or sixth round pick.

Brigham Young’s Jamaal Williams might offer value and power rushing later in the draft. Clemson’s Wayne Gallman has tackle-breaking ability, but analysts say he isn’t a strong pass protector.

 

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

Healthy Edwards, NFL Draft could help Raiders improve interior pass rush

The Raiders had an NFL-worst 25 sacks last season, and that’s with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin in their employ. That duo had 18 sacks (and 11 forced fumbles) between them. That left only seven for everyone else. Stacy McGee and Denico Autry had 2.5 each, and McGee isn’t here anymore.

Mario Edwards Jr. was certainly missed last season, when he missed 14 games with a preseason hip injury. The versatile defensive lineman is a solid edge run defender and internal pass rusher in the sub package.

If he’s healthy, Edwards Jr. could pose a real threat rushing the passer next to Irvin or Mack.

“Having Mario healthy will make us a better defense, and that’s not just as a pass rusher,” general manager Reggie McKenzie said in March. “He’s a solid run player. We’ve just got to have him healthy.

“But we’ll continue to add there, too.”

McKenzie subtracted one Tuesday, releasing Dan Williams to free salary cap space. He hasn’t yet added a defensive tackle in free agency, but could certainly do so in next week’s NFL draft.

There’s some quality interior pass rushers in this class. Let’s take a look at some options the Raiders could select and when:

Good fits: The Raiders select 24th overall in this draft, far lower than years past. Some quality defensive tackles might be a proper fit there, especially with depth at positions of need.

They could use some versatility, players like Edwards Jr. who can play multiple techniques. Michigan State’s Malik McDowell is an strong, athletic freak who analysts believe needs to improve his effort and technique. McDowell could develop into a top talent and be viewed as a steal at No. 24, or not realize full potential.

Michigan’s Chris Wormley is a versatile player in the Edwards Jr. mold, a player who seems to fit Raiders needs. Analysts says inconsistency is troubling but has the leadership quality and character the Raiders love. He can be a base end and move inside when required. He also has the size at 6-foot-5, 298 pounds and could develop well at the NFL level while making an immediate impact.

Florida’s Caleb Brantley is also an intriguing prospect adept at reaching the offensive backfield. Analysts say he’s a powerful player with quickness and an ability to work through blocks despite being slightly undersized. Brantley is potential to be a quality NFL pass rusher, and is confident in his ability. He didn’t play a high snap count at Florida, but the Raiders might use him in sub packages as a rookie and fill an important role right away. He’s viewed as a second round pick, and the Silver and Black might cross fingers he’s available at No. 56.

Auburn’s Montravius Adams could help if the Raiders are looking for more of a run stuffer. Clemson’s Carlos Watkins could also play multiple spots and could be available later in the middle rounds. Old Dominion’s Rashaad Coward also fits that mold and would be available in later rounds, though he hasn’t had much pass-rush production.