RENTON – Pete Carroll had his eye on Tom Cable years before Carroll took the head coaching job for the Seattle Seahawks.
While still the coach at USC, Carroll observed Cable and current Seattle special teams coach Brian Schneider coaching players during offseason workouts when both were with the Oakland Raiders.
“I watched those guys work in their offseason OTA (organized team activities) and saw a style and the mentality and the energy that fit exactly the way I think ball should be coached,” Carroll said. “So when we had this chance, I had already seen (Cable) in action, and he’s just a terrific teacher.”
Carroll already had Schneider aboard for his first season in Seattle when the opportunity presented itself to add Cable to the Seahawks’ mix during the 2011 offseason after Cable was fired as head coach of the Raiders.
Cable has the look of an imposing disciplinarian, but it’s his teaching ability – an exacting attention to detail and up-tempo pace at which he pushes his group during practice – that ultimately has translated into the Seahawks finally developing into a cohesive run-blocking unit.
“It’s very important,” Cable said about his workouts. “I do not like to stand around and just talk things through. I’d rather them experience it and fail because I think that’s the only way they learn.
“So I try to make them fail. I try to get them to a point where they make mistakes or they get it wrong – or their foot is wrong or their helmet (placement) is wrong, whatever – just so I can emphasize why it has to be in a certain place, or why you have to step a certain way. And the only way to do that is to do it fast and as hard as you can.”
Cable also played a major role in increasing Marshawn Lynch’s effectiveness. The former California running back was well aware of the success Cable-led offenses have had running the ball. During Cable’s five years working with offensive lines in Atlanta and Oakland, his offenses finished out of the top 10 in rushing only once.
“Their whole life they’ve just been given the ball and then go do their thing,” Cable said about his conversation with Lynch. “And we all joke about it – they’re extreme that way. But he was more than willing to say, ‘Teach me. I’ll do it the way you need it, and just don’t let me off the hook if I don’t do it right.’ So big props if you will to him, to have that kind of integrity, discipline and desire to want to be great at it.”
The week before the Dallas game, Cable said the running game finally came together, and Lynch’s performance against the Cowboys – 135 yards rushing, one touchdown – became the product of that revelation.
Now Lynch has a better understanding of what’s happening at the point of attack before he hits the line of scrimmage, and the result has been five 100-yard rushing games in the past seven weeks.
“He’s really bought into going from point A to point B,” Cable said.
While demanding, Cable is not inflexible. He has continued to get the most out of Seattle’s offensive line with three of the team’s projected starting five on the season-ending injured reserve list.
“It’s easier to adjust when you have a setback is the best way to look at it,” Cable said. “Unfortunately we’ve had too many of those setbacks. But, fortunately, they’re trained and ready to go. There’s some things we still have to keep pushing on to keep getting better, and some of that is just the continuity of a guy playing next to a guy.”
Part of the reason for Seattle’s effectiveness with a makeshift offensive line has to do with Cable’s ability to identify how each player can best do his job.
And it’s how he helped resurrect current Seahawks lineman Robert Gallery’s career in Oakland, turning an underperforming left tackle into a solid left guard.
“Don’t put a round peg in a square hole,” Cable said. “If it’s square, keep it square. If it’s round, keep it round, and just make it fit in. Don’t force it.”
Along with flexibility, Gallery said Cable’s unshakeable belief in the effectiveness of his system ultimately has paid dividends for the Seahawks.
“The thing about him is he’s not going to waver,” Gallery said. “He’s not going to let the way a defense plays or individual players do things change his mind. He’s going to stick with what he knows, and when everyone is on the same page, it’s going to work no matter who you have in there.”
Seahawks receiver Mike Williams had successful surgery to repair a broken left ankle at the Seattle Surgery Center on Tuesday, performed by team doctors Ed Khalfayan and Mike McAdam.
Williams, who was put on the season-ending injured reserve list, is expected to make a full recovery.
With a vacant spot, the Seahawks added cornerback Phillip Adams to the active roster. Adams is a second-year pro out of South Carolina State, and was released by New England this month. Adams played in six games for New England and finished with eight tackles and an interception.
Ben Obomanu will take Williams’ place in the starting lineup, although he already has been playing significant snaps during games as a reserve. Golden Tate will continue to start at flanker. Along with those two, Doug Baldwin, Deon Butler and Ricardo Lockette will carry the collective receiving load for Seattle.
San Francisco (11-3) at Seattle (7-7), 1:15 p.m., Ch. 13, 710-AM, 97.3-FM