Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Head Coach Wanted

The axe came down today on Norv Turner mercifully ending a pitiful 2 year run as the Raiders Head Coach. When your company slogan is “Just Win Baby”, Turner’s record of 9-23 (1-11 in the division) left Al Davis no choice but to send Norv on his merry way. Let the speculation begin on who Al chooses to lead the Silver and Black back on to the path of greatness.

There isn’t a minute to be wasted on the identifying, recruiting and hiring process of the new head coach. It is imperative to have the new head coach on board sooner rather than later. This is especially true when you consider the demands of being a newly hired head coach in the NFL; (hiring of new coaching staff, roster evaluation, the 2006 draft, the free agent market, installing new systems, training camp, etc.)

Finding and hiring a head coach who is the right fit for the Raider organization will be challenging to say the least. One of the major hurdles to navigate will be finding a head coach who will be a willing and able partner with Renegade Al. Al’s reputation as a maverick, unorthodox owner is well deserved. The ability to co-exist with Al and have a healthy, give and take working relationship will be critical. I think it is a fatal error in judgment to discount Al's persuasive skills to lure the right candidate for the job. No one should discount the prestige of being the head coach for the Oakland Raiders either. I also think Al will need to loosen up the reins a bit and give the new head coach the full authority that the position requires.

Al and the newly hired HC can immediately turn around the offense's shortcomings. This will be achieved first by kicking Collins to the curb and then selecting a veteran QB by trade or through free agency that has proven game management and leadership skills.

When speculating about possible HC candidates for the Raiders, it interesting and somewhat amusing how it becomes a process of elimination. Has Al ever hired a HC straight from the college ranks? No. Has Al ever hired a defensive minded HC? No. Another prominent eliminator is the salary of potential candidates. It is hard to envision Al forking out a fair market contract to a HC who is already being highly compensated by his current employer (ie. Nick Saban at LSU being hired away by Miami).

Al's history of hiring head coaches tends to fall into 3 distinct categories;
1. Retreads/NFL coaching vets; (Mike White, Joe Bugel, Norv Turner)
2. Promotions/Company Men; (John Madden, Tom Flores, Art Shell, Bill Callahan)
3. Diamonds in the rough/no NFL HC experience; (Mike Shanahan, Jon Gruden).

Here is a speculative list of head coaching candidates to consider that fall into 1 of the above 3 categories;

Retreads/NFL coaching vets:
Steve Mariuchi – fired in Detroit after Thanksgiving Day game
Mike Sherman – fired on Monday by Green Bay
Mike Tice – fired on Monday by Minnesota
Dom Capers – fired on Monday by Houston
Jim Haslett – fired on Monday by New Orleans
Jim Fassell – current offensive coordinator at Baltimore; former HC of NY Giants

Promotions and/or Company Men:
Rob Ryan – current Defensive Coordinator
Art Shell – former player and Head Coach; currently V.P. executive of NFL

Diamonds in the Rough and/or no NFL head coaching experience:
Mike Singletary – current Defensive Assistant Coach at S.F.
Sean Payton - current offensive coach at Dallas; interviewed with Al for HC in 2004
Scott Linehan – current Offensive Coordinator at Miami
Russ Grimm - current offensive coach at Pittsburgh
Maurice Carthon – current Offensive Coordinator at Cleveland
Pat Hill – current Head Coach at Fresno State; previous NFL coach experience

Based on Al's hiring practices the past 30+ years it looks like the HC pool shrinks down considerably. If you toss out category 1 (who wants another retread?) it boils down to Rob Ryan, Art Shell, and the diamonds in the rough. You can eliminate Rob Ryan and Mike Singletary since both come from the defensive side of the ball. You can eliminate Pat Hill since Al has never hired a coach straight from the college ranks. Now you are left with Art Shell, Sean Payton, Scott Linehan, and Maurice Carthon.

Art Shell would be the safe, reliable choice having compiled a 56-41 record with 3 playoff appearances in his stint as HC of the Raiders from 1989-1994. Sean Payton was very close to becoming the Raiders Head Coach in 2004 for but got cold feet. Scott Linehan is a brilliant offensive mind and play caller. Maurice Carthon has an impeccable coaching pedigree having worked under Bill Parcells (Pats, Jets, Cowboys) and with Bill Belichick (Pats, Jets). He is also a former player under Parcells who was on 2 Super Bowl championship teams with the N.Y. Giants.

Will Al break his pattern to hire Pat Hill or Mike Singletary? Singletary would be an inspired choice. Is there another diamond in the rough that will be a bold stroke of genius to hire? Or in the final analysis, will Al go for the safest choice, Art Shell? This next HC decision is paramount to the success (or failure) of the Raiders. Stay tuned.

I bleed Silver and Black,

Calico Jack


Anonymous RochesterRaider said...

As discipline has been the real issue, not talent, a real need is someone who can communicate the need for attention to detail. Leave the current coaches in place so that continuity can be maintained and hire a 'message' guy, the message being 'attention to detail'. I nominate Rich Gannon. I beleive he can get it done from shear will and personality. The rest will fall in place without starting from stratch.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Rochester Raider - You make some excellent points. Stability and continuity are important factors. Gannon would fall under the category of a "Company Man". He definitely has the passion, work ethic, and strong leadership skills. It is clear that Al respects Gannon. Although Gannon doesn't have any coaching experience, he is just the type of unconventional hire that Al is known for.

7:06 AM  
Blogger ncraider64 said...

I agree Roc. Rich would be a great fit as o-cord. I really would like to see Sean Peyton get a shot at the HC job. I think he might just be the next Gruden. If Al don't go that way then how about a old Raider like Jim Haslett who would bring some much needed disipline.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

I really don't want to see Sean Payton in there. I live in the NY media area and all I remember was the stink that arose when his playcalling came under so much scrutiny that Fassell started calling the plays himself.

I like Gannon, but he really hasn't proven himself on any coaching level. Taking him out of the booth and putting him in as coach is almost as bad as what the Lions did with Matt Millen by annointing him GM right out of the broadcasting booth. I think Gannon should cut his teeth as an assistant first.

6:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My gut (and it is larger after the holiday celebrations)says Steve Mariuchi. He is a retread, but in some ways he still seems closer to his innovator/diamond in the rough time than other past retreads. With his embarrassing Detroit record, he should come cheap, which you accurately point out is a critical Al job criteria. I still think Rick Snuhiesel has an outside shot. Jeff

8:43 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Doobie - You are right about Gannon not being ready. I think it would be great to hire Gannon as a QB/Offensive Assistant. He could be groomed and promoted to HC similar to Madden, Flores, and Shell. What is your take on Jim Fassell? Is he a viable candidate for the Silver & Black?

After further review, my top 2 choices for the Raiders HC vacancy are now Scott Linehan and Maurice Carthon.

If you want an interesting perspective on Pat Hill, go to www.firepathill.net and go to the 'Hills Record' tab. It makes some valid points about the lack of "quality" wins Fresno St. has under Pat Hill.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Hoist said...

My compliments on your detailed analysis, I think the Raiders will always have a conveyer belt of coaches until Al steps aside. Retreads will continue to be 2 and out and Diamonds in the rough will say thanks for the opportunity and bail when offered more money and an owner who is less invloved. Gruden (still the 2nd youngest coach) and Shanahan are perfect examples of coaches who grew tired of Al's backseat driving and need for attention. Great coaches do better without the owner's help.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Dr. Hoist - Al won't be stepping aside or hanging up his black jumpsuit until he is 6 feet under, R.I.P. I do think he is capable of loosening up on the reins with the right coach. It is clear that the new HC can't have a huge ego which was Gruden's ultimate downfall.

The Raiders have enjoyed most of their long term success under a HC who was promoted from within the organization. 25 years of success and stability came under the John Madden, Tom Flores, Art Shell eras.

Unfortunately, there really isn't anyone that comes to mind who is head coaching material unless you
consider Art Shell, Rob Ryan, and Rich Gannon.

It certainly would be exciting and unique if Al breaks the mold and hires Mike Singletary ... life would come full circle considering that Singeletary played under Buddy Ryan whose son Rob Ryan is the Raiders D-Coordinator!

I would also be quite pleased if Scott Linehan brings his high powered offensive mind to the Silver and Black. Is his connection to Randy Moss from their successful Viking days together enough to tip the balance?

Is Maurice Carthon interested in the Raiders HC opportunity? The Carthon-Parcells relationship could play an important role when you take into account the respect and admiration Parcells has for Al.

5:30 PM  

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