The day Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis fired head coach Lane Kiffin I called my boy in the Raiders organization and left a one word message… WOW!!!! My message wasn’t about Al firing a coach, but it was how he did it. Crazy Al went gangsta!!! Did you catch that show? He should move his squad back to L.A. because he was all showbiz during that press conference. Has an owner of any professional franchise conducted himself/herself in that fashion? No.
My boy returned my call last night and told me it’s just nuts out there. He said that when you are in a poorly run organization, you just expect stuff like this to happen. However, he ain’t mad to see Kiffin leaving either. They will not be throwing a farewell party for the former head coach because he had little friends in the building.
NFL Commission Roger Goodell isn’t happy about the Oakland franchise, but his hands are tied. Al Davis has helped build the NFL and Roger cannot slap him around to get him to act like a professional. I’ve been writing about this franchise for two years now and it’s becoming more of a punchline every week.
Good luck to the latest sucker, I mean head coach Tom Cable who is being promoted from the offensive line position.
Yesterday, my source within the Oakland Raiders contacted me to give me an update on the team. I can guarantee that this will be the most relaxed he’ll be this year… his vacation is almost over and camp is coming up fast. I asked him about the Raiders and what their season would look like after 16 games. He felt that they would beat some good teams and be a lot more competitive than last year. In fact, he stated that they will beat Denver week 1 because they’ll be a lot stronger at home this year. We spent a lot of time breaking down the 3 teams (offense, defense, specials), coaches and individual players. Here are the 3 biggest questions facing the Oakland Raiders.
1. Is JaMarcus Russell ready? I asked my source about the rumors of him being overweight and slow to pick up the offense. He assured me that he was in great shape and has been working hard. He agreed that his lack of experience is still a factor, but the organization believes he is (will be) the guy. I also asked about his maturity off the field and who is he surrounding himself with. My souce stated that they are pleased with that aspect thus far.
2. Will Darren McFadden be an impact player? As analyst Kenny Smith (TNT) would say it, this kid has the “goods.” There is no doubt that McFadden has star potential pixie dust all over him. My Raider insider told me that they cannot wait to give this kid touches on Sundays. He’s explosive and a major play maker that will open up play action for Russell. They see him having the same impact as Adrian Peterson had in Minnesota in ’07. Wow! I told him to slow down… Peterson aka “All Day” is off the charts. Will McFaddens success transfer to the NFL (see Reggie Bush) and if so, how quickly? Also, when you study his physical makeup he’s a stud from the waist up… from the waist down, he has Manute Bol’s legs.
3. Will the team respect and respond to Head Coach Lane Kiffin? You have to give Kiffin credit for hanging in there for 2-years with this organization. Lesser coaches would not have made it one way or another. Here’s the deal… Owner Al Davis tried to force him out, hired an assistant coach without consulting him and event drafted a letter of resignation for Kiffin to sign. Al is still letting Raider Nation know that if he ain’t happy, nobody in that organization is going to be happy. But that stuff always works itself out, the important communication is in the lockeroom/field between players and coach. Last year, future Hall-of-Fame tackle Warren Saap made life hell for the HC. Our source shared that there is a much more positive attitude since Saap is no longer there. He continued that Saap turned players against the HC and was a verbal malcontent that stained player/coach relationships. He had negative comments for defensive and offensive coaches. They are all happy with his exit. Now we’ll see if they can win ballgames with a greater PMA (Positive Mental Attitude).
We told you several months ago what our insiders revealed regarding the infighting and distrust within the organization. You read it here how the players didn’t respect their young, inexperienced head coach Lane Kiffin.
So it shouldn’t have surprised our readers to learn that shortly after the season, owner Al Davis moved to have Lane Kiffin resign and hit the road. Kiffin isn’t stupid and told Davis to fire him so he would be paid the balance of his contract. Nothing has been resolved on that front… they don’t like each other and Kiffin has NO power or influence.
What you may not have read is that Kiffin wanted to fire the defensive coordinator and Davis wouldn’t let him. Davis essentially cut his knees out from under him. The assistant coaches know it and so do the players. Good luck trying to win out there this year Kiff.
Ok, so what have the Raiders been doing in the offseason? Nothing but spending money on players deemed less valuable on their former teams. For instance, the Raiders went hard after DeAngelo Hall (Falcons) and gave him a seven-year $70 million ($24.5 guaranteed) dollar contract. Atlanta couldn’t wait to get him on the first bus out of town, yet the Raiders overpaid for him. Who were they competing with for Hall’s services? No other team was even in the same ballpark regarding that money.
Hall is a very good, not great player. He has the physical tools and mindset, but he has baggage that will cause another inexperienced head coach problems. I’ve been told that he is already trying to get the #21 jersey from Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha just happens to be the Pro Bowl cornerback that the Raiders franchised on February 2oth for $9.8 million dollars. I don’t think he’ll like Hall trying to bully him and take #21.
The Raiders didn’t think they spent enough money on the secondary so they also decided to give ex-NY Giant Safety Gibril Wilson a large contract. Remember that a year ago, the Raiders drafted Mike Huff (Univ. Texas) with the #7 pick. They have millions of dollars tied up into their secondary.
Of course Al Davis needed to go after another ex-Bronco player so he felt WR Javon Walker deserved $55 million ($16 guaranteed) dollars after being released from the mile high franchise. Walker hasn’t been the same explosive player since he injured his knee a couple years ago. Compare that to the $27 million the Patriots gave Randy Moss and you Raider fans may start to realize that Davis is spending like he’s playing a game of monopoly.
What has happened to this storied franchise which possesses 3 Super Bowl Championships, has 17 inductees in the Hall of Fame and some of the most loyal fans in the NFL? What happened to the organization with a .500 or better winning percentage vs. 26 of the 31 other football teams? What happened to the Oakland Raiders “Commitment To Excellence?”
Our insiders tell us a major problem is the lack of experience of the Head Coach Lane Kiffin. He has stuggled with gaining the respect of his veteran players due to his youth, decision making and perceived aloofness. What has surprised many is his poor communication skills. There have been awkward pregame speaches and other moments that were less than impressive in addressing his team. There’s also been rumors running through the organization that he was quietly interested in going back to the college game. UCLA, LSU and Arkansa were tops on the rumor mill for a few weeks.
The defensive coaches and their position players don’t even watch game film collectively like every other football team (pro, college, high school) in America. Individual breakdowns and meetings of the different positions are stressed in this organization and it shows on gameday. It impossible to be a cohesive unit without assembling in a room and making your calls and checks to insure that everyone is on the same page. The classroom is vital and where teams make their greatest improvements during the course of a week. It’s amazing that they’ve won 4 games this year with this sort of preparation.
The players are not being coached up on the basic fundamentals but are taught to focus mainly on the opponent’s tendancies. This is flawed and has resulted in their players guessing causing them to be out of position leading to big plays.
As has always been the case with the Raiders, the same undisciplined behavior exists with their players. For example, the real story behind Dante Culpepper’s latest injury is that he strained a quad muscle challenging a defensive back to a 100 yard race after practice. Of course it wasn’t a friendly competition but a 5 figure wager that motivated the two would be sprinters. Dante pulled up lame a short distance into the race… this was just days after he had his best game of the year leading the Raiders to a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Just as a fish rots from the head down… so has the once proud Oakland Raiders. Owner Al Davis is calling all the shots and even the plays. To this day, he watches the practice film of his players and has great input to what is being done on gameday. He doesn’t even allow his defense to play zone coverages. The buck stops with Al and he has all the power to change the course of his franchise is he decides to give up his power.