A Quick Look at Tom Cable

And I do mean quick.  I just finished browsing through some stats to give myself some idea of how Oakland’s offensive line performed in the three years prior to Cable’s arrival, then compared those numbers to the stats during Cable’s tenure as o-line coach in 2007 and o-line/head coach from ’08 – ’10, and, well, take a look for yourself:

Year Sacks Allowed Total Rushing Yardage Average Yards per Rushing Attempt
2004 30 (6th) 1,295 (32nd) 4.0 (21st)
2005 45 (24th) 1,369 (29th) 3.8 (23rd)
2006 72 (32nd) 1,519 (29th) 3.9 (22nd)
2007 41 (22nd) 2,086 (6th) 4.1 (11th)
2008 39 (24th) 1,987 (10th) 4.3 (11th)
2009 49 (30th) 1,701 (21st) 4.1 (23rd)
2010 44 (26th) 2,494 (2nd) 4.9 (2nd)

The sack totals were still awful during Cable’s tenure, although when you give up 72 sacks in one year even 40+ still looks like an improvement.  The team’s production in the run game fared much better, and aside from one down year in ’09 stayed firmly rooted in the top third of the league.

Cable may never be the next Howard Mudd or Mike Munchak, but his o-lines in Oakland did some pretty good work.  In fact, one of the biggest reasons for the o-line’s success the last few seasons, Robert Gallery’s transformation from terrible first-round bust tackle to pro bowl caliber guard, was Cable’s idea.  (To give you an idea of Gallery’s impact at his new position, that down season in ’09 was also the year Gallery missed ten games due to injury.)  Honestly, I wonder now if the improved run game in ’07 and ’08 was due more to Cable’s offensive line coaching than it was Greg Knapp’s offensive playcalls.

Now, I’m not accounting for a lot of variables here.  Sacks can be caused by the quarterback making a bad decision just as much as they can be caused by lapses in blocking, and running game totals are heavily affected by the quality of both the running backs and the offensive playcalls.  But after spending a season watching what happens when talented RBs like Lynch and Forsett try to run behind a porous o-line, it’s hard to underestimate what a solid, well-coached line can do for production in the running game.

Also, as of this writing current o-line coaches Pat Ruel and Art Valero are still employed by the Seahawks.  That may change in the next day or two, but I would love to see Pat Ruel (who only joined the staff in September after Alex Gibbs’ sudden retirement) stay with the team.  Aside from being a Gibbs-style zone blocking proponent like Cable, Ruel is a successful, respected o-line coach with a resume stretching back to the ’70s.  Perhaps it’s a bit much to hope for, but an offseason under the dual tutelage of Cable and Ruel could work wonders for Seattle’s offensive line.

Y’know, assuming Schneider can scare up a couple of guards who won’t die partway through the season.  That would be nice.