MAYBE TOM CABLE is stubborn enough to truly believe success can be summoned through an approach generally recognized as a definition of insanity.

Or maybe the Raiders coach is subtly, slyly mocking his boss, an absolute daredevil tactic for anyone who works for Al Davis.

Or maybe Cable is simply out of ideas or options.

Week after week, Cable walks out after games conceding that he is the master of an offense going nowhere, especially through the air.

Yet week after week, game after game, Cable has rubber-stamped the same characters into the starting lineup.

Is not one of the definitions of insanity doing the same thing repeatedly yet each time expecting a different result?

Cable has stayed with JaMarcus Russell at quarterback, despite the obvious inefficiencies. He has stayed with rookies Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy at wideout, despite the obvious lack of production. Cable has stayed with Zach Miller, as he should, for the tight end is the only member of this group to carry his share of the load.

And unless Cable has a spasm of creativity this morning, which is a lot to expect of man who has spent two decades concentrating on the trenches, expect more of the same when the Raiders enter Qualcomm Stadium today for what has become an annual fist to the collective mouth in San Diego.

Through seven games, the Raiders are the worst offensive unit in the NFL — worse then the winless St. Louis Rams. Oakland is last in yards per game (220.9), last in passing yardage (128 per game) and next-to-last in scoring, averaging 8.9 points per game.

They have become the akland Raiders, because there is no "O."

This is not exactly a new trend. This is the seventh consecutive season the Raiders have scrapped and scratched and begged for touchdowns. Since averaging a league-high 28 points per game in 2002 — with a total of 450 — they have failed to average more than 20.

As bad as it was in 2006, when Tom Walsh arrived from an Idaho bed and breakfast inn with an oatmeal-flavored offense that resulted in bagels and donuts (10.5 ppg), this latest team is threatening to plumb an even lower low.

And that puts the problem squarely in Cable's ample lap. As head coach and chief play-caller, he's wearing the cap with the large "S" on it, for scapegoat.

When I reminded Cable that he spends each postgame news conference stressing the need to "get the offense fixed," but that he consistently relies on the same basic lineup, he responded as if he were light on alternatives.

He paused, sighed and cited the team's injury list.

"These aren't excuses, they're just facts," he began. "We're missing two very good offensive linemen (Robert Gallery, Cornell Green), a good running back (Darren McFadden), a good wide receiver (Chaz Schilens). All those things kind of make this a tough deal.

"But whoever's in there, we've go to find ways to do it. We've not been able to do that yet."

Let me point out that Cable did not moan about the roster. That would have shined a harsh spotlight on Davis, who as owner/general manager is responsible for acquiring the talent on display each week.

"When I look at it, I look as (if) we've got enough players and we've got enough schemes," the coach said.

The rookie wideouts continue to start, Cable said, because they're being developed. Cable insisted it's not accurate to say veteran Javon Walker isn't good enough to play, yet Walker makes only token appearances. The coach's description of Walker's role sounds an awful lot like an assistant coach.

When a coach turns to the same starters each game, no matter the results, it's his way of saying they are the best he has.

When a Raiders coach turns to the same starters each game, no matter the results, eyes glance upstairs. It's widely known that Davis has favorites who are treated as such.

Even, evidently, if it handcuffs the offense or diminishes the chance of winning.

"There's a lot of football left," Cable concluded. "I still know this team is going to succeed this year. To what degree, that will be decided in the next nine or 10 weeks. I'm not going to lose faith in it."

Yet Cable knows there's a thin line between losing faith and gaining temerity.

He replaced Russell last Sunday, not without reason. It might not hurt to send a similar memo to others. How much, after all, could it hurt?

Contact Monte Poole at mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com.

today's games
  • Raiders at Chargers, 1:05 p.m. TV: Chs. 5, 13 Radio: 560-AM
  • 49ers at Colts, 10 a.m.
    TV: Chs. 2, 40 Radio: 680-AM
    INSIDE
  • Raiders-Chargers preview. Page 6
  • 49ers-Colts preview. Page 7