Tom Cable's Future With Raiders Isn't Certain

Oakland's offensive line was a big disappointment in 2018, despite plenty of high-priced talent; will Gruden decide to let his O-line coach go, or give him one more season?

After Sunday’s game against the Chiefs, the Raiders will begin their offseason.

Certainly, change is coming. There will be additions and subtractions in both the roster and coaching staff, and the team will need a new general manager, too, with Reggie McKenzie gone.

One assistant coach who may be soon out of a job is offensive line coach Tom Cable – at least if some vocal Raiders fans have their way.

Cable, the former head coach in Oakland who returned this season to coach the O-line for head coach Jon Gruden, has long been a favorite punching bag for a certain group of Raiders followers. And, the way this O-line performed in 2018 – with inconsistency in both pass protection and run blocking – left Cable open for criticism.

The line certainly has been hurt by injuries. Donald Penn lost much of the season, Kelechi Osemele was sidelined for several games and even durable Gabe Jackson was out of the lineup. Plus, rookies Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker were forced into the lineup at the tackles and had to learn under duress, especially with Miller having to play through a bad knee.

As Carl Cockerham of SB Nation noted recently, Cable’s forte is teaching and running a zone-blocking scheme, yet this particular Raiders line had its best success in a power-blocking scheme prior to 2017.

Wrote Cockerham: “The Raiders have one of the worst O-lines in the NFL right now. After a switch to zone-blocking didn’t work in 2017, Cable made the O-line lose weight to fit zone-blocking better. That change hasn’t been working out as Marshawn Lynch was getting 3.46 of his 4.2-yard-per-carry average after contact before injuring his groin. In the passing game, the Raiders went from No. 4 in pass-blocking efficiency in 2017 to No. 29 with Cable now. Meanwhile the Seahawks, who were No. 26 in the same category last year (under Cable), have improved to No. 12 without Cable coaching their line.”

When SB Nation ran a poll last week, asking if Raiders fans wanted to see Cable go, 83 percent of the more than 3,100 votes cast went to “Yes, he makes a mess of the offensive line wherever he goes.” Only 17 percent voted for, “No, the Raiders have too many injuries on the offensive line and the draft picks aren’t there yet.”

But, Cable also had a lot of input into the drafting of Miller with the team’s top pick, and Gruden likes Miller’s athleticism and toughness. Ejecting Cable might force the rookie into another learning year and stunt some of the progress he made this season. Same with Parker.

If Gruden indeed wants to make a move away from Cable, it would likely come soon, perhaps as early as next week.

Meanwhile, Cable’s group up front will get a chance to go out on a high note this Sunday in Kansas City, when the 4-11 Raiders take on the 11-4 AFC West co-leaders. The Raiders are 13½-point underdogs. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.

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