The question had been stuck in my mind like quicksand the last few weeks ever since Al Davis pulled the plug on Tom Cable—what's really happening with the Oakland Raiders?
Al Davis may seem senile to most, but in all due respect the Raiders owner has two things going for him—the understanding of business and football experience. Mr. Davis has been the team owner since 1967 and was the previous commissioner of the American Football League (AFL) from 1966-1970 when he resigned from his post to continue running the team. The Raiders were one of the most successful franchises from '67-'85 and his team won three Super Bowl Championships.
However, "that was then, this is now." His relationship with the NFL and understanding of the game today has tremendously decreased—basically leaving on a sour note that is not only heard around-the-league, but in the media as well. Al Davis has been no stranger to having feuds with former coaching and player greats and was even sued by the NFL over departing the LA market in a back-and-forth battle.
The last appearance in the Super Bowl was in 2002, when the franchise featured Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and someone with a cannon, Rich Gannon. It wasn't a happy day though for Raider Nation, as the defense was caught with its shorts down. Ever since then the organization seemed to be moving in circles.
Until this season a new approach started back on January 27, 2010 with the hiring of Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson to aid Cable and the improving Raiders. Oakland had its first successful draft in years last April.
The team began to make moves on the defensive front and it finally looked as if Davis wasn't the one calling the shots. Moreover, all of the rookies were in attendance at Camp in the summer and Oakland had finally cut ties with its last hanging virus, QB Jamarcus Russell.
The Raiders knew they traded for the right QB, Jason Campbell, in the NFL Draft that would lead the team to better character traits and more wins. It was only a matter of him adapting to the offensive scheme and putting it all together on the field. Overall, the former Redskin did well, especially after the season-ending injury to Bruce Gradkowski.
The team came together as a unit, held strong character and enjoyed playing for the coaching staff and Raider Nation. The veteran players mixed well with the young talent, which included rookies on defense like Rolando McClain and LaMarr Houston and Jared Veldheer and Jacoby Ford on offense that all played a special role for the Raiders, who for the first time in eight years, finished with an 8-8 record this season. But the ole' team owner did not think it was good enough. He recently decided not to retain Head Coach Tom Cable as well as Defensive Coordinator John Marshall. Did he even watch the games? Oakland was unbeaten in its division, but missed out on the post-season. At that time (before the firings) I said a coaching move would be the wrong move.
From the offensive passing ratings to stopping the run on defense, the Raiders were much improved across the board in 2010. Even the special teams worked excellent together. It was a total team effort, as the team moved forward in the right direction. I would like to know if Davis planned this coaching move prior to the season.... It pretty much seems that way, hiring Hue Jackson as Offensive Coordinator prior to last year after upgrading the offense. If the team falls short of the playoffs next season, will there be another coaching change? Jackson was just announced as Head Coach for the Raiders heading into 2011. Let's hope that is the correct plan; we never know with Davis.
Bad decision—simply no exclamation or excuse to his philosophy, once again. To wind it down now—former Head Coach Tom Cable has filed a grievance against the team to fight fines totaling $120,000, according to ESPN.com. Another major step backwards and bad stamp against Al Davis. Albeit you can't ask Davis to step down, I hope he knows what he's doing, especially since the Raiders appear to be heading in the right direction with talent and the mindset. I guess he just wants to state that he is still in command; it's his team and only his team—remember that, Raider Nation.