The Raiders were this close to having an outstanding season. When I say "this close" imagine me holding a picture of JaMarcus Russell, because it was pretty much all his fault that they didn't. It sure wasn't Tom Cable's doing!

Oakland is 5-10 right now, which is just a shade shy of lousy, but three of those wins came after former No. 1 holdout Russell was benched in favor of a couple of chumps. Sensing a pattern, San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami asked their head coach at a press conference, "If the Raiders had gotten average to above-average quarterback play this year, do you think you'd be competing for a playoff spot right now?" (Which is sort of like asking, "If your team wasn't terrible, would they be good?") Cable's response:

"Without even asking that question," Cable said with a tight grin, "you know we would have."

Get that? All that was standing between the Raiders and the playoffs was a lack of "above-average quarterback play." Simple as that. Yet, Cable is the head coach and offensive coordinator, so surely he could have done something to improve that quarterback play, right? Kawakami also asked the coach to grade his own performance in that area.

"I think at times an exceptional job and at times an average job," Cable said.

So if I'm following correctly, Tom Cable did a (at times!) exceptional job coaching his below-average quarterbacks to their below-average performances. He's not saying it's definitely JaMarcus Russell's fault that the Raiders stink ... but we sure as hell know it wasn't Tom Cable's fault. You know what they say: Sometimes a great carpenter just has lousy tools.


Tim Kawakami: Tom Cable's true feelings hard to hide [San Jose Mercury News]