I have never outright attempted to defend Tom Cable as the offensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks from 2011-2017, I only mean to say that most people overrated his impact. He was an assistant coach (and assistant head coach) who only had so much under his control. I mean, for 98% of Seahawks fans, they could name four coaches at any given time: Pete Carroll, the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator, and Cable. And I mean, not even close to 98% could actually name any one other than Carroll, but I’d bet Cable was easily the second-most known commodity on the staff.
People will say it’s because the offensive line was so “terrible” but nobody really felt the need to mention it often when the Seahawks were leading the NFL in rushing and Russell Wilson was becoming the most efficient and winningest first-six-years QB ever. People will also say it’s because Cable was in charge of drafting literally every single lineman they drafted, but GMs and head coaches do not tend to unleash right of first pick to their assistant coaches.
In my opinion most of it still boils down to this: the line was good enough with Russell Okung, it was terrible with Bradley Sowell and then Rees Odhiambo, and it’s good enough again with Duane Brown. The best coaches, in my opinion, know the value of the talent they’re teaching and don’t pretend to be able to squeeze wine out of lemons. But a good coach should also know when he’s holding a lemon and when he’s holding a starting guard and maybe that is somewhere that Cable was failing.
At least now it seems to be benefitting Seattle.
As pointed out by @JasonCheathawks on Twitter today, new Seahawks starting guard Jordan Simmons was only available to the team this year because he was cut by the Oakland Raiders on September 1. Of course, the Raiders offensive line coach this year is ... Tom Cable.
Simmons was an offensive lineman at USC who barely played because of injuries and was eventually moved over to defensive tackle, but knee injuries again wiped out basically his whole season. Simmons moved back to offensive line and appeared in 13 games as a senior; he petitioned the NCAA for a sixth season but was denied and so he entered the draft and went unselected. Oakland signed him and he spent the whole season on the practice squad. Clearly the team liked him enough to do that and to bring him back in 2018, but new head coach Jon Gruden and offensive line coach Cable didn’t see him fit to make the final 53.
The Seahawks immediately claimed him off of waivers. A year ago this wouldn’t have been as notable, and the Raiders’ problems aren’t really at guard so much as they are at tackle, but consider that they’ve gone from having arguably the best offensive line in the league to potentially the worst. I know this is also a point of argument against Cable’s coaching, but the loss of Donald Penn, as well as starting a rookie at both right tackle and left tackle, certainly deserves more attention. All-Pro guard Kelechi Osemele has also dealt with injuries this season. I’m not excusing Cable, who for all I know could be the worst coach in the league, only that there are other factors at play here — bigger factors, including Gruden — that need to be considered first.
That being said, if it was his job to evaluate young offensive linemen to keep on the team, he may have really screwed up with Simmons.
In two starts in place of D.J. Fluker this season, Simmons appears to be playing well enough for the Seahawks to consider letting Fluker walk in free agency. In his first start, Seattle rushed for 273 yards and Wilson passed for three touchdowns against Aaron Donald and the LA Rams. In his second on Monday, they rushed for 214 against Sheldon Richardson and the Minnesota Vikings.
This is picturesque pass protection by Simmons working against Sheldon Richardson. Wilson throws a dime, but officials rule Moore didn't have two feet down. pic.twitter.com/TZsaIwwKtR— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) December 13, 2018
At this point it seems like the Seahawks would be smart to shut down Fluker for the final three games and see what Simmons can do against the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Arizona Cardinals, since the playoffs are all but sealed and Fluker can rest. Then next March, maybe they don’t give Fluker a contract and instead have more money to allocate to Frank Clark, Russell Wilson, and/or Jarran Reed. Simmons will be under contract for three more cheap seasons. There probably will always be knee injury concerns with Simmons, but it seems as though he’s been health since the start of his senior season at USC, so that’s a positive sign.
It’s also a positive sign, for any and all who hate Cable, that the Raiders thought Simmons wasn’t good enough to backup Gabe Jackson. It’s worth noting that Cable didn’t pick Simmons and runs a different approach than Solari, who is more interested in man-to-man blocking, not zone. Maybe Simmons wouldn’t have worked in any way for the Raiders, but he’s doing just fine in Seattle. He’s now gone from the practice squad in Oakland to being one of Solari’s newest additions to the “Pros” column.
Had he gotten his sixth year at USC, who knows if Simmons could have been drafted, or if the Seahawks would have targeted him, but they finally got him. And a thanks is owed to the most hated coach in Seattle.