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On Tom Cable, the Seahawks' Assistant Head Coach, and Al Davis' Legacy

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I know that most people around here are pretty stoked to have Tom Cable as the Seahawks' line coach because of his expertise and success coaching offensive lines, but one fact that goes a little under the radar for the most part is his official title as Assistant Head Coach. I don't know if giving Cable that title was just a little honorific resume-building embellishment on the Seahawks' part or rather a meaningful and deliberate act, but I tend to lean towards the latter. There's symbolic importance to naming Cable Assistant Head Coach, in my mind, because he brings to the Seahawks a toughness and (literal and figurative) punch-you-in-the-mouth attitude, something I believe John Schneider (and to a lesser extent, Pete Carroll) is constantly looking for. Cable's ability to instill this disposition in a team was never more apparent to PCJS than on Halloween night, 2010.

You might remember the 2010 matchup between Cable's Raiders and the fledgling Carroll-Seahawks that resulted in scores of injuries (defensive line starters Red Bryant and Colin Cole in particular, plus Matt Hasselbeck) and bruised egos on Seattle's part after the 33-3 trouncing.

The Seahawks were beaten down by an underrated Raiders team, with the help of a couple lucky bounces, but mostly due to pure physical toughness. They simply wore the Seahawks out - the game was 13-0 in favor of the Raiders going into the fourth quarter, well within reach, still, for the Seahawks, who were 4-2 at the time - but, Oakland then rattled off 20 points in the final frame to bury Seattle. The Raiders did so while gaining 545 total yards of offense, including 239 yards on the ground, and it was was one of the most demoralizing losses in recent memory - something that really stuck with me and made me a huge fan of Tom Cable.

The normally enthusiastic, upbeat, absurdly and uncommonly positive, silver-lining finding and full of joie de vivre Pete Carroll offered this after that loss - "There's no mystery to us on what happened today. We got nothing done. We accomplished nothing on any aspect of our ball."

For me, that game by the Raiders kind of encapsulates what the front office here wants to do with the Seahawks, and part of what I perceive to be their success in building out this roster is a harmony in philosophy among the decision-makers at the top. The addition of Tom Cable to the team as 'assistant head coach' makes all the sense in the world, especially following that loss.

Obviously, all decisions start with Pete Carroll. He's the face of the organization, his Win Forever and Always Compete mantras permeate the VMAC, and his personality and upbeat attitude have rejuvenated, at least for some, a depressed organization, though winning records are still on the horizon and not in the rear-view. His core football beliefs are less celebrated or talked about than his psychological beliefs though, and those ultimately revolve around ball control, limiting turnovers on offense, creating turnovers on defense, big, explosive plays, and maybe most importantly, peaking at the right time. READ: AT THE END OF THE YEAR.

The teams that go down in history are the teams that win late in the year and in the playoffs. The Packers squeaked into the playoffs then won it all in 2010. The Giants did the same in 2011 after winning a few key games just to get the chance for the postseason. The NFL clubs that find a way to peak in December and January have the best chance to go on to fame and glory. Carroll was able to do this late in the college season at USC, while establishing "no-loss November" as a theme there. Until losing to Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart's Stanford team 55-21 on November 14th, 2009, Carroll's Trojans had gone 28-0 in November since the day he took over in 2001.

A big part of this success later in the year goes back to the type of team this front office is trying to assemble.

Tom Cable said something in a recent interview with Bob and Groz that meshes well with Carrollosophy. Said Cable, "We have some beliefs here. I think obviously you have to throw the ball to score points in this league. I don't think there's any secret about that. But, I think in the end, you can be a flash-in-the-pan team, or you can be a legitimate champion, and not just go after it one year, but maybe two, three, four years in a row, and to do that, I think you have to have a physicalness to you, where you can close teams out. You've got to throw it to score points, but to win games, to me, you've got to be really good at the end of the season and really good in the playoffs, and be to be dominant, you've got to have a physical presence."

Physical presence.

John Schneider is a mentee and protégé of Ted Thompson and Ron Wolf, as is de facto Seahawks' head scout Scot McCloughan. Schneider, McCloughan, and Thompson all inherited beliefs and methodologies (player grading, specifically) developed by Ron Wolf, who came up in the Raider organization alongside and under Al Davis from 1963-1975, and again from 1978-1990. Schneider once described Ron Wolf as a 'father-figure'. Similarly, McCloughan's brother and father work(ed) for the Raiders for many years under Al Davis. Tom Cable too worked under Al Davis with the Raiders. As much as we might make fun of Davis' penchant to fall in love with 'fast guys' (or kickers in the first round), at the end of the day he's kind of the originator of a large part of the Seahawks' player grading system and a big influencer on how this team is built. Size and speed matter. A lot.

Michael Lombardi, a former personnel man for the Raiders, explained the Al Davis philosophy recently on Path to the Draft. He said, "Al Davis grew up in Brooklyn, he was influenced by the Brooklyn Dodgers. The speed of the Dodgers. He was influenced by the New York Yankees. The power of the New York Yankees. The Raiders were a combination of the Dodgers and the Yankees. He wanted size and speed. He wanted the biggest and the fastest. When the Raiders got off the bus, they were going to be the biggest and the fastest team, and that was really his mantra. A lot of teams today, - the New York Giants, the Green Bay Packers, that have a grading system that's predicated on size and speed, it all started out with Mr. Davis' unique ability. He wanted speed - he didn't just want 'fast' - he wanted rare speed." Lombardi went on to talk about hand size and arm length - two hugely important measureables that Al Davis would obsess over. This sounds familiar.

Obviously, a lot of teams value these attributes on some level, but it's interesting to note that Schneider, McCloughan, and Cable's philosophical influencers' lineage can be pretty quickly traced back to Davis, and this philosophy goes hand in hand with Carroll's main focus - winning late in the game and late in the year.

Said then 49ers-general manager Scot McCloughan, shortly before he was let go. "I'll never lose sight of this, and maybe I'm a dinosaur in this, but it's a big man's game. That's from the standpoint of holding up through a season durability-wise, but also in the playoffs. You have to have some size and some power and strength, I think, to be a contender year in and year out."

Fast forward to December, prior to the Seahawks-49ers matchup late in the season, when McCloughan talked about the Seahawks beating an 11-3 Niners club that featured a roster he was largely responsible for putting together. "They come to our place Christmas Eve, and we're going to beat the hell out of ‘em."

John Schneider is always talking about guys who'd win in a street fight or guys you'd like to have by your side in the parking lot. Tom Cable - well, Cable is Cable. Even if he's only a two-year rental as some believe, Cable's going to leave his mark - and he's a great vessel, with Schneider and McCloughan's personnel preferences, to establish that toughness in the trenches. He summed up everything perfectly when he recently described his offensive line's system.

"You need to have power, [and size], but you've got to have speed and quickness. It's not a fat-guy system, it's a big-guy system that can move and create violence."