New Raiders Coach Takes Gentle Camp Approach

When Al Davis plucked Tom Cable out of relative obscurity and make him head coach last year, there were concerns that he wouldn’t be up for the task at hand and might be in over his head. Reading this story about his his first training camp as a head coach in the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE isn’t exactly inspiring confidence, as he’s decided to take a revolutionary approach to training camp: no contact.

New Raiders coach Tom Cable

(Tom Cable gets back to basics by telling players what a football is.)

And I don’t mean “limiting contact drills,” either. For the first four days of training camp, players are getting “back to basics” by spending two-a-days hitting the books and walking through drills designed to reinforce fundamentals. Basically, it’s training camp except without all of those nasty things like training, working out, or anything above a mild level of physical exertion.

It’s a 180 degree difference from what is happening across the Bay where the San Francisco 49ers are getting ready for a hellaciously physical training camp, their first under new coach Mike Singletary.  While Singletary’s idea of “back to basics” includes tackling drills and lots of pain, Cable’s approach is kinder and gentler. (I wonder if this book is in his curriculum?) And as you can imagine, his players are welcoming the softer approach:

“It seemed like it was weird at first,” linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba said Friday. “But you go through it and it’s a great concept.”

So what are the players doing instead of working out? They are walking through passing routes and coverage; working on defensive line positioning against trash cans; and the QBs are getting experience being loud and clear with their audibles. I think I worked harder making ash trays for my Dad at summer camp when I was 11 than these guys are. But Cable is sticking by his “Big Idea”:

“It’s a chance to really sort it out and work through it before all of a sudden you put the combative part into it,” said Cable, who went through this before as a college coach. “Remember, the NFL season starts now and it hopefully ends sometime in February for you.

“The human body can only take so many car crashes.”

Which might be true, but I don’t wear a racing helmet and wrap myself in bubble wrap before I drive the six blocks to the grocery store. No matter what, it will fascinating to see how this approach works. If it’s successful, you’ll surely be seeing other teams copy it next summer. And if not, then Cable might have the life expectancy in his job of…well, a Raiders head coach.