Typically an 8-8 record is nothing to celebrate in the NFL. It means you are the very definition of mediocre, and the season was largely unsuccessful. That is, unless you are the Oakland Raiders, a team that has had nothing but 10 loss seasons since 2002. The Raiders have been a constant punchline over the last 7 years. Whether it was the drafting of Jamarcus Russell, horrible contracts handed out to players like Javon Walker and Tommy Kelly, and losing season after losing season.
This year, Tom Cable helped bring the Raiders back to respectability, and gave Raider fans a reason for hope. The Raiders went from 31st in points, to 6th. They rode behind one of the NFL's best running games, and while Jason Campbell is far from being a star, his best quality is that his name isn't Jamarcus Russell. The defense improved as the season went on, and physically pummeled the Chargers and Chiefs, the two teams that finished ahead of them in the AFC West.
The Raiders also went 6-0 in their own division, the first time a team accomplished this, without making the playoffs. Cable brought toughness back to the Raiders, and the offensive line became a solid, cohesive unit.
Yes, Cable's 17-27 overall record is far from impressive, and they were 2-8 outside of the AFC West, but the Broncos are a mess, the Chiefs are no Juggernaut, and San Diego is wildly inconsistent. With another draft(even without a #1 pick) and another go in free agency, and the Raiders could easily be a 10 or 11 win team next season. I firmly believe Cable should have been given another shot. Hell, guys like Gary Kubiak and Marvin Lewis kept their jobs.
The move was also questioned by Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler, who called the firing a "huge setback." The locker room of a professional sports team can be very fragile, and for veterans like Lechler who have suffered through constant turmoil, the move can't be well received. The hot rumor is that the job will go to current Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson, although I wouldn't be surprised if Davis hires someone completely off the radar. After all he did it with Lane Kiffin.
I am not saying that Cable is a great NFL coach. However, the Raiders significantly improved under his leadership. Another year with Cable and Hue Jackson, and Oakland could be a legitimate contender. Perhaps they still will be, but Cable deserved a better fate.