Monday, January 23, 2006

Patience as a Virtue

It is amazing how the bay area beat writers and mediots (media idiots) are mocking the Raiders and Al Davis’ patient search for a new head coach. What is interesting is that Davis’ patient approach might earn the ultimate prize, Ken Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt has emerged over the past few weeks as a bona fide star coach. While the other teams were busy interviewing and hiring retreads and lackluster candidates, Whisenhunt has been off the market because of the Steelers playoff success. Has Mr. Davis been laying in the weeds awaiting the Steelers to run their course which will eventually lead to the availability of Whisenhunt to be interviewed? Only time will tell.

This article seemed to imply that the Raiders “missed” out on hiring Al Saunders. Some of the flak that the Raiders are getting is also based on the fact that only 3 candidates have been officially interviewed so far. This article implies that the Lions and Redskins were “faster on the draw”. Are the Raiders doomed because they haven’t been quick on the trigger like some of the other teams who had head coaching vacancies? The Lions were faster on the draw to hire Rod Marinelli who has been stuck at Tampa Bay the last 10 years as a defensive line coach. The Redskins were faster on the draw to hire Saunders as an offensive coordinator not a head coach. Saunders is in the same mold as Turner who belongs in the press box not on the sideline leading the players into battle.

Some of the criticism stems from the fact that the Raiders will be the last team with an unfilled vacancy. Some of the writers point out that 2 of the 3 candidates who interviewed with the Raiders have been hired by other teams namely Rod Marinelli and Al Saunders. I think Al interviewed Marinelli as a potential defensive coordinator in case Rob Ryan was hired by the Jets. Same goes for Saunders. Al wasn’t in any rush to hire Saunders. If Al was impressed with Saunders than an offer would have been extended. Plain and simple. Let’s not forget that K.C. bypassed Saunders for their head coaching vacancy. Saunders was probably viewed more as an offensive coordinator which is what he ended up being hired to do for Washington.

To all the beat writers who continue to pile on the Raiders and to all the Raider faithful who have become frustrated with the Head Coach search, settle down. There are a number of excellent known candidates available in the market and probably a few surprise candidates hidden up Mr. Davis’ sleeve. The point I’m trying to make is that it is more important to find the right guy than rush into a poor decision. It isn’t a race. Here’s my perspective of the head coaching landscape, some of the other teams’ head coach choices, and the relevancy of when you hire the HC.

- Was Green Bay wise to jump the gun and hire Mike McCarthy as their leader in charge? McCarthy was the mastermind behind the worst offensive team in the NFL last year as the 49ers offensive coordinator. Now there's a resume filler.

- On Monday Buffalo hired Dick Jaroun as their man in charge. Can you say "retread"?Dick Jaroun sure did wonders as the Head Coach at Chicago where he compiled a stellar 35-46 record. He recently was washed out as the interim Head Coach at Detroit. Very inspiring choice Marv.

- The New Orleans Saints seemed very pleased to sign Sean Payton as their big cheese. Payton was the guy who as the offensive coordinator for the NY Giants was stipped of his play calling duties by Head Coach Jim Fassell. Now that should instill some confidence down by the bayou.

- The Houston Texans will be signing Denver offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to man the fort. Gary Kubiak's credentials are impressive considering the potency of the Denver Bronco offense. However, I have to wonder how much of the real credit for Denver’s offense should be weighted towards Kubiak and how much really goes to the architectural genius, Mike Shanahan.

Here are 2 candidates that would fit the ideal profile and make the most sense as a match for the Raiders. This ideal profile is a young, ambitious coach without NFL Head Coaching experience who comes from the offensive side of the ball.

43-year-old Ken Whisenhunt, offensive coordinator of Pittsburgh, has risen to the top of the list with the Steelers post-season success. Whisenhunt, who is in his second year as offensive coordinator, deserves the lion's share of credit for the Steelers robust 28.6 scoring average in the playoffs. As the visiting team, the Steelers have knocked out the top 3 seeds in the AFC bracket on their way to the Super Bowl. Whisenhunt has devised creative, aggressive offensive game plans and play calls in the 3 playoff victories. Whisenhunt's offense has produced TDs on 10 of 13 trips to the red zone in the playoffs. Both years that Whisenhunt has been in charge of the Steelers offense the team has advanced to the AFC Championship. Unlike some NFL coordinators who could be labeled “football professors” for their expertise in drawing up brilliant x’s and o’s, Wisenhunt is a former player who was known for his toughness as a TE in the league for 9 years. As quoted in this article Dan Henning says about Whisenhunt, "He leans on approaching players on an intelligent basis, but this is a tough guy," said Henning, offensive coordinator of the Carolina Panthers. "He has a mental toughness about him that makes him excel.” This is the type of young, dynamic leader that the Raiders should hire.

44-year-old Cam Cameron, offensive coordinator of San Diego, has established himself as a bona-fide candidate with his track record the last 4 years. Cameron has played a big role in guiding the Chargers offense and developing such rising stars as Antonio Gates, LT, and Drew Brees. The Chargers offensive balance, productivity, and firepower is due in large part to Cameron’s efforts. Cameron's familiarity with the AFC West division would be an added bonus.

There are a number of other candidates who are worthy of a sit-down interview with Mr. Davis. This list would include Mike Singletary (Asst. Head Coach/LB Coach S.F.), Tim Lewis (Defensive Coordinator NY Giants), Maurice Carthon (Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland) and Mike Sherman (former HC Green Bay). Only time will tell whether or not Mr. Davis was wise in taking his sweet time in order to find the right man to lead the Silver and Black. When the scoreboard in Detroit on Feb. 5th hits 00:00, that patience might be rewarded handsomly. I am hopeful that on Feb. 6th that Ken Whisenhunt is enjoying an animated discussion with Mr. Davis about the future of the Silver and Black.


Anonymous Raider Greg said...

I am glad you also see the genius in Al Davis and the way the Raiders roll. Al will be like the cat that ate the canary at the press conference. When he announces the new coach, not only the sports media but "all" media will run with it. It makes all other Head Coach hirings look like a footnote. YOU just GOTTA love the Raiders............

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot some important qualifcations for Al's new head coach, which include but are not limited to, spineless, weak minded,Yes man, shoe shiner (Al's shoes get dirty in the infeild during baseball season),wimp. I can't believe that anyone like Wisenhunt would want to be lorded over like Norv was. Gimme me a break these Raiders are done and are not going to win for quite some time.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

anonymous - First off, I sincerely appreciate your opinion and humor. However, let me give you my honest view on your comments.

None of the Head Coaches that Al Davis has interviewed or will be interviewing in the near future will be "spineless, weak minded, Yes man, shoe shiners, or wimps". None of the Head Coaches hired in the past by Al Davis were "spineless, weak minded, etc.."

Norv Turner was making decisions on a daily basis that impacted the fortune of the team. NFL Head Coaches have incredibly demanding jobs. To become 1 of the 32 NFL head coaches, a person has achieved a high level of success in their careers that shouldn't be discounted. Do You really think that a person who has risen to the highest ranks in their profession got their by being weak minded? Ridiculous. They got their because of their strong will, work ethic, dedication, knowledge, experience, expertise, passion, communications skills and drive. Even the Head Coaches that I didn't like (ie. Turner & Callahan) deserve a certain level of respect.

Clearly the HC of the Raiders will be working for a hands-on, demanding, and unique owner. What you are forgetting is that even a guy like Norv Turner who you would consider a so-called "yes" man was responsible for running mini-camp, devising game plans, managing the other coaches, and most importantly leading his 53 players into battle.

Turner wasn't spineless or a "shoe shiner". His biggest deficiency wasn't that he was a so-called "yes" man to Al Davis. His downfall was due to 1) his lack of leadership skills
2) an under-achieving,unproductive offense, and ultimately 3) because the Raiders lost too many games.

As far as "these Raiders are done and are not going to win for quite some time", we shall see. It starts first with making the right choice on a new head coach, then the 2006 draft, free agency, and potential trades.

If the Raiders do in fact hire Whisenhunt and trade for Culpepper will you still be singing the same tune? Or are you just the classic "raider-hater" who always sees the glass as half empty. You might say that I'm blind in my faith in Al Davis and the Raiders fortunes. I prefer to be hopeful for the best and to look forward to the new season.

As Blitzchick would say, "Win, lose, or tie, Raiders til I die." Do us all a favor, when the Raiders turn things around, don't hop back on the bandwagon.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. I also wonder if maybe Mr. Davis was helping out an "old" Raider, since two candidates within two days of being interviewed by Mr. Davis were hired by the Lions. Everyone knows Millen's job is on the line and that he is close to Al. Perhaps Al quietly assisting him with putting together a staff.

2:32 PM  

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