NO TEAM IN modern NFL history has changed coaches six times in eight years. The Raiders made sure that liitle factoid remains intact, having apparently decided to retain Tom Cable as their coach.
This shouldn't be shocking. Well, aside from the rare occurrence of Al Davis not telling a head coach to skedaddle.
One thing the Raiders have done consistently — other than losing — is to stand by Cable as their coach, through all his off-field scandals and on-field defeats. More on those later.
This does little to affirm the Raiders' future. That franchise's fate revolves around two figures: Davis' tight grip on personnel matters and JaMarcus Russell's tenuous roster spot.
Did Cable win a me-or-Russell debate with Davis? Did Cable offer up a solution (an intervention) to reboot Russell's development? Did Davis realize no one wants to coach the Raiders as badly as Cable?
So many questions. The Raiders won't dare answer any of them. For one thing, Russell's future really is up to him, in terms of financial and physical makeovers. Second, teams don't hold 6 p.m. press conferences on Saturday nights to announce they're sticking with their already-under-contract coach, because if they did so, they'd lessen what little credibility that position already carries under Davis' reign.
Cable's apparent return for the 2010 season is just that, a return for 2010. Will he be dispatched at the bye week like his predecessor, Lane Kiffin? Will Jim Harbaugh be ready for the NFL in 2011 like his Stanford pupil, Andrew Luck?
The Raiders' future remains cloudy (or a fitting shade of silver and black, if you prefer).
Davis isn't going anywhere, so just get over it, as he would say.
As for Russell, his salvation from bust-ville isn't up to Cable or any newfound offensive coordinator (see: Hue Jackson, possibly). Russell's future is up to Russell, whether he's willing to take a significant pay cut, change his lackadaisical mindset and get in shape (which isn't the major factor critics whine about, because this really is about his leadership, mojo and production).
Cable's fate has been in limbo since he took over for Kiffin after four games in 2008. It took over a month before he had the "interim" tag removed last year. And it took nearly three weeks before word leaked that Cable is returning once again.
And once again, the Raiders apparently are standing by Cable.
Like they did after his training-camp scuffle with assistant coach Randy Hanson.
Like they did after the Raiders got whipped 45-7 in the often-telling third exhibition game, albeit by eventual-NFC finalist New Orleans.
Like they did after he admitted past spousal abuse in a Nov. 1 pregame statement, in the wake of a damning ESPN report about his personal life.
Like they did after the Raiders got shut out by the New York Jets 38-0 on Oct. 25.
Like they did after the Raiders fell at Cleveland in Week 16 with the help of some terrible goal-line and short-yardage play calls.
But Cable has had his moments. He's never flinched in the wake off all the off-field drama. He's stuck up for what he called "the truth" about any controversy. He's not out on bail.
When he won, he did so with quite a flare: the 2008 finale at Tampa Bay, the 2009 home upsets of Philadelphia and Cincinnati, and the 2009 late heroics at Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Denver.
But the Raiders still ended with a 5-11 for the second consecutive season.
Seven straight seasons of at least 11 defeats should be enough to convince anyone (even The One And Only -- Al) of an extreme franchise makeover.
It hasn't happened. It might not unless Davis or Russell caves to the mounting and justified criticism.
Davis anticipated Cable would own the locker room. As it played out, Cable indeed has that locker room's support. Is that a positive? Should players fear their coach rather than continually having to stick up for him? Do they think they can get away with 5-11 annually? Nope.
Cable hasn't had enough wins, enough touchdowns, enough quarterbacks or enough successful play calls.
He's had too many losses (19 in 28 games), too many blowout defeat, too many empty seats at the Coliseum, too many things wrong with Russell and, of course, too many reports of off-field controversy.
But he wants the job. Others probably do, too, despite the widespread belief the Raiders coach job is as desired as the H1N1 virus.
Does it even matter who holds the "coach" title anymore? It makes for a nice distraction.
This franchise needs a true quarterback in a quarterback-driven league. Cable, nor any assistants, are truly responsible for finding that quarterback.
It could be Bruce Gradkowski. Better him than Russell at this point. But it's late January. Another season is lost. Another coaching watch is over, apparently.
Same as it ever was. Without the annual winter rotation of coaches. Yet.