Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell appeared on ESPN’s NFL Live today and it was pretty clear that he was all for letting Tom Cable go in Oakland. In the process he said in no uncertain terms that he liked the thought of Hue Jackson taking over as the next Raiders head coach. Here is some of what he had to say:
“As a player you never try to get involved in the business decision because you never know how they’re going to go and you don’t want to feel like you’re choosing sides. But the thing is, you know, we had an 8-8 season this year, we had an opportunity to make the playoffs, we lost two close games in Jacksonville and the Arizona game. We probably could still be in there playing… I don’t know what really happened between Mr Davis and coach Cable. I’m pretty sure it just came down to the way they view things and how they foresee things for the future and they went from there.”
He then went on to talk about Hue Jackson’s contribution to the Raiders’ play this season.
“Our offense doubled the points from last season in yards and you know, you have to give Hue Jackson some credit [for] the things that he brought to us from Baltimore — the type of offense we had this year, the mindset that we had. You know, just the overall season for us, you know, is an improving season. And guys, I think, learned how to win, how to play with confidence and understand what it takes.
“(Hue Jackson) has done an outstanding job for us this season on the offensive side of the ball. I’m pretty sure a lot of things are going to come into play here. It will be interesting to see how things turn out but he has definitely worked himself into being talked about around the league.”
As is often the case, Campbell was very careful in how he chose his words. But you’ll notice he starts off by talking about missed opportunities and how Cable and Davis didn’t see eye to eye on the future of this team. Then after he was asked about how frustrating it must be to be losing yet another coach, Campbell doesn’t really address it. He instead immediately begins talking up Hue Jackson and pointing out that Jackson deserves the credit for what this team accomplished this passed year. All while not a single positive mention in regards to Cable.
When you consider that it was Cable’s decision to remove Campbell from the lineup a few times during the season in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, it should come as little surprise that Campbell would welcome the news of Cable’s departure. And even though Jackson said at the time that he had reccomended to Cable that Campbell be removed at halftime in week 2, Cable made it clear throughout the season that it was Gradkowski’s job as long as he was healthy (which wasn’t long). Campbell and Jackson have since spoken quite glowingly of one another on several occasions even prior to Cable being let go.
Most other players on the team told reporters before and after the season finale against Kansas City that they loved playing for Cable and were hoping for his return as coach. The most vocal of late was All-Pro punter, Shane Lechler. He spoke on CSN Bay Area on the decision to let Cable go:
“I am not sure this isn’t a terrible decision. How do you justify firing somebody when you just went 6-0 in the division, 8-8 in the season after we put in so much as a group, as a unit, with our leader being Tom Cable? How do you just go ahead and whack this guy with, I mean, no reason?”
Lechler is understandably frustrated. He and Sebastian Janikowski are the longest tenured Raiders. He is heading into his 12th season with the Raiders. In that time he has seen the Raiders during the great years under John Gruden, seen Gruden traded away and then the Raiders go to the Super Bowl only to lose to Gruden’s Buccaneers. Lechler has seen 6 different coaches since then, most of whom were as much or more of a disaster than the coach who preceded them. Cable is the first head coach to bring the Raiders back to respectability — just as Gruden did. Lechler has every right to be frustrated. And it doesn’t matter that he is a punter either. He isn’t just any punter, he is the greatest punter since Ray Guy and arguably the greatest ever. When any 11-year, All-Pro Raider player speaks, you should listen — regardless of position.
Lechler also went on to say that there were several key free agents on the Raiders who will probably be leaving the team due to this decision. Most notably he mentioned left guard Robert Gallery and running back Michael Bush.
Other key Raider free agents include Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour, tight end Zach Miller, cornerback Stanford Routt, quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, center Samson Satele and offensive tackle Mario Henderson. In all there are 27 Raiders set to become free agents.
It remains to be seen how much effect the Cable departure will have on who the Raiders are able to bring back. But it is clear that the locker room is split on the decision. Hopefully whoever replaces Cable, whether it be Hue Jackson, Jim Harbaugh, or otherwise, can convince them to stay. Because while not everyone is of like mind on Cable, losing these players in free agency would be unanimously detrimental.