Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Kiffin Press Conference (Quotes & Video)

"To the Raider fans, players, to the Raider nation, to the organization, that bleed and give their loyalty and skill to the organization...we will come back, and Lane Kiffin will lead us back!" - Al Davis

"I'm extremely excited about this opportunity and where I see this place going. It's a historic franchise that has had greatness and has fallen on tough times, but we will bring it back to where it was before." - Lane Kiffin

Lane Kiffin press confernce video:

Monday, January 22, 2007

In Kiffin We Trust

Owner Al Davis was on a mission to find a young, energetic, offensive minded Head Coach. After misfiring on USC coach Steve Sarkisian, mission accomplished. As first reported by the NFL Network's Adam Schefter, the Raiders have hired USC Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin to become the team's Head Coach. Here is the official announcement by the Raiders organization.

Throwing conventional wisdom on its ear and caution to the wind, Davis hopes to catch lightning in a bottle with Kiffin. Not only is Kiffin the youngest head coach in the NFL at 31 years old, he has never been a head coach. Kiffin's coaching experience in the NFL is only 1 year as Defensive Quality Control coach in 2000 for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

For the other 31 NFL teams, this hiring decision would be a complete head scratcher. For the Raiders, it is business as usual. Madden, Shanahan, and Gruden were all in their early 30's with no head coaching experience when Davis put them at the helm of the team. I'm personally more comfortable having Davis roll the dice on a young coach who very well might be on the rise as opposed to settling on a recycled, old retread type head coach like Jim Fassell or Dennis Green.

Kiffin's 9 year coaching career has covered the complete offensive spectrum. He started his coaching career at his alma mater (Fresno State) as a Graduate Assistant. His 1st coaching assignment was with Colorado State as an Offensive Line Assistant. At USC he coached the Tight Ends, Receivers, and later became the Passing Game Coordinator, play caller, and in 2005 the Offensive Coordinator. Kiffin had the good fortune of learning about offensive coaching, schemes, playcalling, and stategy from Jeff Tedford while at Fresno State and Norm Chow while at USC.

The next big decision in Raiderland is the selection of the Offensive Coordinator. Is it possible that Steve Sarkisian will fill out Kiffin's staff? It would be odd considering that the roles were reversed just a few short days ago until Sarkisian took himself off the market. Or will Al "suggest" experienced OC Marc Trestman to be Kiffin's right hand man for the offensive unit? Another question worth pondering is whether or not the hiring of Kiffin will ultimately influence the Raiders selection of the 1st pick in the draft.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Thank You Art

Statement from the Raiders organization:

‘Al Davis and Art Shell met today and discussed the 2006 football season. While Art will no longer serve as head coach, he and Mr. Davis have discussed and will continue to discuss opportunities for Art to remain a valued member of the Raider organization’.

This decision is the final (and sad) culmination of a silver and bleak 2-14 season. There is no use sugar-coating what transpired under Shell’s watch. This team will go down in infamy as the worst team and offensive unit in the history of the Raiders organization.

Like most of the Raider Nation, I was full of hope when Al Davis reached back into the past and rehired Big Art. I also feel that it is almost unanimous amongst the Raider faithful that Art had his heart in the right place this season and proved his loyalty to the organization. Unfortunately, some of Shell’s shortcomings and decisions as HC spelled disaster.

Here are a few reasons for the 2006 season being sour instead of sweet:

(1) Players: The offensive unit’s lack of execution and talent particularly at QB and the offensive line equated to league worst marks in scoring, yards per game, sacks allowed, and turnovers.

(2) Bad decisions: Shell was responsible for handpicking coaches Tom Walsh (OC), Jackie Slater (O-line) and Ted Dashier (Special Teams Coach). These coaches came up short in terms of leading, teaching, and game planning. The hiring of Walsh in particular was one of Shell’s gravest errors. Walsh’s playcalling, lack of imagination, and inability to make adjustments set the offensive unit back to the stone age.

(3) Personnel Management: Shell’s poor handling of Moss’ radio rants and effort, Porter’s pouting, and Walter’s public complaint about the offense affected team morale and performance.

(4) Game Management: Shell had difficulties with replay challenges, time out usage, and in-game adjustments.

(5) Lack of commitment to the run: Shell preached a return to power, smash mouth football centered on a committed rushing attack. The Raiders never did establish the run and more times than I care to remember, the team abandoned the run in closely contested games.

I know this might sound crazy but I would not be opposed to Shell being kept on staff as the O-Line coach as opposed to a front office role.

I know this idea under most circumstances seems highly unusual but I think it is worth considering for the following reasons;

(1) Shell can concentrate on the one thing he knows best. His experience as an O-line coach (7 yrs. with the Raiders, 2 yrs. with the Chiefs, 4 yrs. with the Falcons) would be a major upgrade over Slater/Eatman.

(2) I sincerely believe that the O-linemen would bust their tails for Shell knowing that they were partly responsible for his demotion.

(3) Shell's Raider heritage, knowledge and loyalty to the organization is still a valued commodity.
(4) Finally, having Shell on the field during training camp, practices, and games is a daily reminder to each player that Shell puts the teams goals first and foremost.

A decision on the new HC could be announced as early as tomorrow. If Rob Ryan is promoted to HC, I would anticipate LB Coach Martindale being promoted to DC. Possible OCs making the speculative rounds on the net are Steve Sarkisian (USC OC) and Marc Trestman (former Raider OC).

If Al goes outside the organization for a HC and keeps Ryan as DC, I think that Denny Green would make sense especially if we draft QB JeMarcus Russell with our 1st round pick. During Denny Green’s tenure at Minnesota, he did an excellent job with grooming Dante Culpepper. In Culpepper’s 1st year as a starter (2000), the Vikings offense was #5 in the league. Culpepper led the Vikes to the NFC Championship in his 1st year as a starter by completing 62% of his passes for 3,937 yards, 33 TD passes. Denny Green coming on board would also be an attempt to get more production out of Moss if Davis intends to keep him on the roster. Other HC candidates on my short list would be Mike Martz (Detroit Lions OC), Jeff Tedford (Cal Berkley) and Bobby Petrino (Louisville)

Although Shell’s immediate future is uncertain, his 28 years of past service to the Raiders should be honored and treasured.

- Art was drafted in the 3rd round out of Maryland Eastern Shores

- Shell played LT for the Raiders for 15 seasons (1968-1982)

- As a player, Shell had the following distinctions; 8 time Pro Bowler, NFL 1970’s All Decade Team; Ranked 55 on Sporting News list of the 100 greatest players; Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1989

- Shell coached the Raiders a total of 13 years; 1983-1989 O-Line Coach; 1990-1994 Head Coach; 2006 Head Coach

Thank you Art for your loyal dedication and unquestioned love for the Silver and Black.