It's time to step up and show some love to one of the most maligned football franchises in recent history, the Oakland Raiders and their head coach Tom Cable. After starting the season 2-7, the Raiders benched Jamarcus Russell and have since gone 3-2.
We aren't going to make this another bash JaMarcus Russell post after he led the Raiders to an impressive game-winning drive yesterday without any semblance of pass protection. On the drive he was hit several times and on one play was absolutely leveled. He then went off to the sideline, came back in after one snap and converted on a critical fourth down, in the process showing more heart than he has since being drafted.
Back to Tom Cable. He has been accused of hitting his first wife, something he admitted too though he denied allegations of abuse against his second wife and a third woman, Marie Lutz. Obviously hitting a woman is a terrible act and he has deservedly been condemned for that. This was preceded by report of Cable beating the shit out of an assistant coach. That's probably not the best way to rebuild a franchise.
Somehow through all of this Cable seems to have finally earned the respect of owner Al Davis, famous for his itchy trigger finger when it comes to firing coaches. This is a direct result of the Raiders having been competitive on the field through much of the season with home victories against Philadelphia and Cincinnati and road wins at Pittsburgh and Denver.
Does any of this give Oakland a pass for draft picks that have left much to be desired? No. Anytime you decide to draft Darrius Heyward-Bay over Michael Crabtree or Jeremy Maclin and follow that up with picking Michael Mitchell, a safety from Ohio (not OSU) that apparently could have been had in the seventh round you deserve a lot of the criticism you face.
In spite of all that, this team is far removed from being the laughingstock of the league that it has been the past few seasons and the first half of this one. They have seen the emergence of rookie WR Louis Murphy and witnessed signs that perhaps Russell isn't the modern-day reincarnation of Ryan Leaf. With the improved quarterback play they have gotten using the combination of Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye and Russell yesterday, the team has shown marked improvement.
For this we salute you Tom Cable. Anybody that has to work with an owner that's most likely senile and has suffered through the ignominy of having to work with the disaster that has been JaMarcus Russell until yesterday definitely deserves some love from us at Project Franchise. Apologies to Raiders fans in advance if I jinx any future success this team experiences.