When Jon Gruden hired Tom Cable as his offensive line coach with the Raiders this spring, he touted Cable’s experience and personality in developing blocking units.
“He’s coached in a lot of different schemes, different runners, different quarterbacks, different head coaches,” said Gruden. “He’s versatile. He’s a tough guy. Usually the tough coaches, they help develop tough lines.”
A priority for Cable will be to restore the team’s running efficiency after a down season. After running the ball very well in 2016, the Raiders weren’t nearly as consistent in 2017.
Yet Cable takes over an offensive line that – even with its problems in 2017 – was one of the NFL’s best in protecting its quarterback.
In fact, Mark Chichester of the analytic website Pro Football Focus recently ranked the Raiders tied for third in the NFL in pass-blocking efficiency in 2017, with a grade of 82.3 (on a scale to 100.0).
Four of the starters from last season – Donald Penn at left tackle, Kelechi Osemele at left guard, Rodney Hudson at center and Gabe Jackson at right guard – are back, but right tackle Marshall Newhouse (a weaker link) is gone, so Oakland may actually improve its pass protection in 2018 under Cable and a rookie starter in place of Newhouse.
“One of the main reasons for their success was the historic performance by center Rodney Hudson, who allowed a total of just three quarterback pressures all season and ended the campaign with a pass-blocking efficiency of 99.6, giving him the best mark ever recorded by a center,” wrote Chichester. “Earlier this spring the Raiders made moves to improve their offensive line, as they released Marshall Newhouse, who ranked 56th among 81 qualifying tackles in PBE in 2017 and subsequently drafted his replacement – Kolton Miller – who ranked first among Pac-12 tackles in that same statistic. So, if the other key figures of the line stay healthy, the expectations continue to be high for the Raiders line in 2018.”
Though Miller, the team’s No. 1 pick out of UCLA, has yet to go head-to-head with pass rushers in helmet and pads, so far the Raiders are happy with what they see of him. Once training camp begins on July 25, Cable will be eager to help Miller get up to speed by the season’s opening regular-season game.
In spring organized team activities and the recent full-squad minicamp, Miller looked good to Cable.
“It’s not too big for him,” said Cable, of Miller’s jump to a higher level. “He’s kind of put an exclamation point on our choosing him.” Cable added Miller has had “amazing” consistency for a rookie.
If Miller proves an improvement on Newhouse, Derek Carr and the passing game could be very effective this season.