RENTON — Raiders coach Tom Cable grew up in Snohomish, but despite his strong ties to the area, coaching in Oakland is as good as it gets for the former Panther.
“It’s a pure joy,” Cable said in a phone interview. “The Seahawks weren’t in Seattle when I was a little kid. They didn’t come until what, ‘75 or ‘76? By then I was 12 years old. So I’d always been a Raiders fan. It’s a dream come true. It’s a joy every day to coach this football team.”
And if the Raiders can build off of last week’s success, starting Sunday against Seattle, it might be a dream job Cable can hang onto for a while. Cable, a 1982 graduate of Snohomish, went from being the offensive line coach to interim head coach in 2008 after Lane Kiffin was fired. He was named the head coach prior to the 2009 season and kept the job to start 2010 — no small feat considering owner Al Davis’ quick trigger finger.
After winning the AFC West and going to the Super Bowl in 2002, the Raiders lost 11 or more games in each of the next seven seasons, leading to four coaching changes in five years.
Given that Cable was not originally hired as a head coach, and that he didn’t immediately turn things around (and Davis changes coaches as casually as some people change wardrobes) many figured Cable wasn’t long for the Raiders head coaching job. But Davis retained him for the 2010 season. And after seven games, Oakland is starting to show signs that a turnaround could be coming.
The Raiders are 3-4, but are coming off of a shocking 59-14 win in Denver. It was only one win, but beating a hated division rival so thoroughly on the road could be a sign of better things to come for Cable’s Raiders.
“Yeah, absolutely,” cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said when asked if he felt like the team has turned a corner. “I mean look, it was a big win, but the season doesn’t end after that win. We still have to come out, we have to beat Seattle, and we have to win our division in order to get the goals that we’re hoping to achieve. So the feeling is there that, ‘Look, this is the type of standard that we have set, these are the things that we can do.’ But in order to completely turn the corner we have to put together a string of wins, not get over-confident or complacent in any way and just continue to play at the level that we know we can play at.”
One win, no matter how lopsided, won’t make the Raiders overconfident, but it did help reaffirm that what they’re doing can be effective.
“I think we know what we can do,” Cable said. “I think what we’re trying to find is the trust and belief and the process it takes to get there. But we know what we’re capable of and we know what the challenges are for us and I think that’s the most important thing, is understanding that process.”
One of the things Oakland does best, and will try to do this weekend, is run the ball. The Raiders rank third in the league in rushing offense, and are coming off of a game in which they scored five rushing touchdowns. It’s exactly the type of offense you’d expect from a team led by a former offensive line coach, and it should make for an interesting battle on Sunday considering that Seattle has the league’s No. 2 run defense.
“Tom Cable is an O-line guy from way back and he takes great pride in it,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s a fantastic football coach. I know that’s instilled in their style of play and it’s illustrated in the kinds of results. They’re rushing for almost 160 yards a game right now so they’re on it.”
And even though Oakland is his dream job, Cable hasn’t forgotten his ties to Snohomish. He still has family and friends here, so when a teleconference with Seattle-area reporters came to an end, Cable feigned disappointment that he wasn’t asked more about Snohomish.
“It’s the greatest high school in America, it’s the greatest place on earth,” he said. “Come on guys. … That’s where football started.”
That may be an exaggeration, but Cable’s life in football did begin in Snohomish. He’s just not in any hurry to come back now that he has his dream job.
“It does happen every once in a while and it is a real blessing, that’s the way I look at it,” he said. “I just feel very humbled by the opportunity.”
And with a win over Seattle on Sunday, he could take another step towards making his stay in Oakland a long one.
Herald Writer John Boyle: email@example.com. For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog