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Raiders' Cable calls himself 'good ball coach,' wants to return

Coach Tom Cable held a team meeting, met briefly with owner Al Davis and began roster evaluations with his assistants in a typical start to an offseason.

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Coach Tom Cable held a team meeting, met briefly with owner Al Davis and began roster evaluations with his assistants in a typical start to an offseason.

The question that will likely be hanging over the Raiders for the next week is whether Cable will be part of the team's future.

In what seems to be almost an annual occurrence during an unprecedented seven-year stretch of losing at least 11 games a season, the Raiders go into the offseason with questions at head coach.

Those questions apparently won't be answered until next week. Cable said Monday that after going through all the evaluations of the season this week, he will sit down with Davis next week, during which his status will likely be a major topic.

"All I know is I have a contract right now," Cable said. "Whether or not that's honored is not up to me. I'm a ball coach. I'm a damned good football coach so things will work out. They always do."

Cable said he believes he has done enough to keep his job, despite posting a 9-19 record since replacing Lane Kiffin early in 2008. The Raiders followed up a 5-11 season last year with another five-win campaign this year although there were some signs of progress with wins against two playoff teams and stronger play in the second half of the season.

Cable admits he might have overextended himself this season, with the responsibilities of the head coach, the play-caller and overseeing the offensive line. He said he would be open to bringing in a play-caller next season if that is best for the team.

Cable appears to have the support of most of the players, who were impressed with his ability to deal with off-field distractions stemming from an investigation into whether he assaulted assistant Randy Hanson and allegations of violence toward women.

"You ask anybody in this locker room that really cares about the right things, they all want him back," offensive lineman Robert Gallery said. "We'll see what happens, it's not our decision, but we definitely want him back because he's getting this thing going the right way."

Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said continuity is important for a franchise that has had five coaches during its seven-year run of losing. Asomugha said after Sunday's game that if he heard Davis was planning to fire Cable, he would go to the owner and speak up for his coach.

"Sometimes it doesn't take a coach two years, sometimes it does take him three," Asomugha said. "We started to get a rhythm and we started to understand what we were doing. I would definitely try to get Cable back, just because that gives us some consistency."

While Cable talked to the team Monday about the importance of the hard word and dedication needed to take this struggling franchise back to the postseason for the first time since 2002, quarterback JaMarcus Russell wasn't there to hear the message.

Cable said Russell and defensive lineman Richard Seymour were excused from the meeting for personal reasons.

Cable said last week that with average quarterback play or better this season, the Raiders clearly would have been a playoff team. But for much of the season with Russell at quarterback, the Raiders got nothing close to that.

Russell completed 48.8 percent of his passes, with three touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 50.0 passer rating in a performance that he called "shaky."

That's the lowest passer rating for a season in 11 years, when Ryan Leaf, Bobby Hoying and Craig Whelihan finished the season below 50.

"This is a quarterback-driven league," Cable said. "That's the bottom line. When you want to sit around and talk about what could of and should have and all that kind of thing, you drive yourself crazy. The fact is we've had some issue there and we've dealt with it the best way we think for our team."

The Raiders scored 5.8 more points and gained more than 100 additional yards of offense per game in the final seven contests started by Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye than they did in the first nine started by Russell.

But the 15.6 points per game Oakland scored in that span would have been the fourth-worst mark in team history.

The Raiders were their most productive with Gradkowski, who led memorable comeback wins over Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before injuring both knees in the first half of a loss to Washington.

But his performance when he did play likely puts him in position at least to compete for the starting job next season. Gradkowski completed 54.7 percent of his passes with six touchdowns, three interceptions and an 80.6 passer rating that was the best for an Oakland quarterback since Rich Gannon in 2002.

"My play itself showed on film," Gradkowski said. "The guys in this locker room know who they want to be out there with. That just all takes care of itself. I'm always open for open competition. I know the coaches will do the right thing, and we got a good coaching staff. Hopefully, we can all stay together. It's all about consistency in this league. We need to build a nucleus around us and work together for a couple years, and we'll put a good run together of successful years."

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