Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anxiously Awaiting The Verdict


The daily "Kiffin is still employed" drum beat continues. Is Al Davis awaiting a loss in Buffalo, the next big loss later in the season, or the next oral jab from Kiffin to pull the plug? Perhaps this is another media driven story based purely on speculation similar to the media storm swirling around Kiffin in January.

What exactly has Kiffin said or done that is so inflammatory, insubordinate, or detrimental to the Raiders team to cause Davis to be so hyper sensitive?

In essence, the comments that the media has milked for all it's worth are as follows;

* The Raiders D needs to get QB pressure especially on 3rd down.
(factual...see KC game adjustment)

* I leave the D to Ryan who gets input from the owner.
(factual)

* I don't worry about the things I can't control.
(a typical feeling shared by many and a way for Kiffin to focus on the things he can truly affect)

From Kiffin’s press conference on Monday (transcript)

Q: Did part of you wake up this morning thinking you were going to be fired?

Kiffin: Not necessarily. I’m worried about what I can control. I’ve said that now for over a year and a half since we’ve been here. There are certain things I can control, there’s certain things I can’t. This happens to be the next one. He has a decision to make. It does me no good to worry about it right now. I was extremely pleased the way that our coaching team and our staff focused. The best thing that can happen for us — you guys have to do your job and ask the questions — is the more that we can stay focused as a team, as a coaching staff, and go forward from here, the better we will be.

Now take a step back and consider the following:

Kiffin was a 1st year HC last season who inherited a seriously flawed, talentless, dysfunctional 2-14 team. The 2006 season crushed the pysche, morale, and competitive spirit of all the players.

In his first season, it was a herculean effort by Kiffin to get the 2007 team to play competitive, spirited football. Kiffin’s team won only 4 games but the Raiders were in the hunt for another 7.
Now move forward to this season. We lay an egg vs. Denver and smoke KC on the road. 1-1.
2 mere games into a new season. The effort and execution was very evident in this game vs. KC.
If Davis fires Kiffin in the next day or two or anytime during the season for that matter, it is a destructive, shortsighted, and selfish move.

With all of “Kiffin will be fired” stories swirling, it is important to note that he hasn’t lost the locker room. All you need to do is read the countless quotes from the players the last few days including defensive players, stars, and captains Nnamdi Asomugha and Ronald Curry to know that the team believes in Kiffin as their HC.

"We've been dealing with that since March, or whatever, they've been going back and forth with it. You just worry about the things that you can control. I mean, it's business, and hopefully it doesn't happen. I think Kiffin does a great job, but it's Al's team and I think Kiffin knew that when he got here. Everybody knows what's going on.” WR Ronald Curry

The job of coaching, leading, game planning done by Kiffin in a very difficult week leading up to KC clearly shows he has the right stuff.

My heartfelt request to Davis would be to simply give Kiffin this season to prove his mettle. Base your decision to keep him beyond 2008 on the performance and results on the field.

Just once I would love to see Davis put his ego in check, sit down with Kiffin & Ryan, and work through this for the benefit of the team, coaches, and fans. To fire him early is just plain wrong. For the Raider team to finally get traction requires stability not a coaching carousel.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

I could not disagree with you more. If Al fires Kiffin it will be for insubordination not his results on the field. Here is my list

1. 4-12 first year certainly nothing to brag about
2. Al gives him the opportunity of a lifetime and 12 months later he is trying to get hired at Arkansas (talk about an opportunist-with no loyalty)
3. Publically dissed Al and the roster on numerous occasions
4.Tried to fire Ryan without consulting with Al
5. After the Denver loss threw his defence, his d-coordinator and Al under the bus. Not much of a man if he won't stand up for a loss and lays blame elsewhere

Kiffin may have some of the tools to be a good coach but he needs to grow up and prove himself before he gets Parcell's type power.

Bottom line if any of us trashed our boss and company in public we would be out on our ass---something Kiffin deserves.

The only reason I do not want him fired is for purposes of continuity. Otherwise I can not stand the weasel.

Regards
Florida Raider

7:21 AM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

FL - I welcome your differing opinion.

It is funny to me how so many Raider fans and the media have become lultra-hyper-sensitive to a few of Kiffin's comments.

I have read all the quotes, seen the press conferences, and understand the context of his answers. I just don't see the insubordination or inflammortory remarks.

He is asked a ton of questions by the press and does the best he can to answer the questions as truthfully and tactfully as possible. He is a HC not a politician.

In regards to your points:

1. 4-12 isn't great but the team showed clear-cut progress.

2. Pure speculation. It has never been proven that Kiffin actively seeked out the job at Arkansas.

3. A bit overblown.

4. Did Kiffin try to fire Ryan or did Ryan go up to Kiffin and say he wants out to persue an opportunity with NYJ? It was Davis who wouldn't let Ryan out of his last year of the contract although he wanted to leave.

5. B.S. This is the type of hyper sensitivity I'm talking about. Go back to the aricles immediately following the Denver game and re-read Kiffin's quotes. He was asked direct questions about the D's lack of QB pressure. He answered the questions truthfully. And BTW, he did take the blame for the loss numerous times ie. "We the coaching staff need to do a better job" yada, yada, yada.
If you want a puppet, Kiffin isn't your guy.

My bottom line: Kiffin has been completely dedicated to improving this team. His hands have been tied by his lack of authroity on persnnel, coaching decisions, and the dysfunction of the organization as a whole but he continues to march forward focused on the task at hand.

He definitely deserves to at least finish this season. The record, results, and performance of the 2008 team should be the final decisionmaking tool of Davis. Nothing less, nothing more.

8:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

Thanks for the prompt response. I know you are busy but I have respectfully refute some of your responses

First here is a good article:

http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/story?id=3591734

2. It has been proven. In case you are forgetting one Jerry Jones is very good friends with Al and also an Arkansas alum. He was the one that told Al about Kiff's wandering eye

3. Overblown----read his quotes about the lack of competition etc.

4. Yes Ryan has been mentioned with the Jets for a long time because of friendship with Mangini. However, I think you are being very biased if you do not believe Kiff tried to fire Ryan. He as much as admitted it, and every single news outlet in the country reported it that way.

5. Hyper sensitivity, Kiffin has been completely dedicated to winning---how have you convinced yourself of that

Man he tried to completely make Ryan look like a little puppet of Al's while absolving himself of all defensive responsibility.

Ryan's rant was awesome that was leadership and protecting your players---Kiff could take a lesson from him.

CJ, you have to at least admit that Kiffin is the most tactless baby you have ever seen as a head coach, in other words he is working hard to get fired.

All that being said for the health of the Raiders I completely agree with your last sentence

Regards
Florida Raider

12:20 PM  
Blogger Leighraider said...

I have got to go with Florida Raider on this one CJ.Kiffin has been trying to push Al's buttons since last season, and shopping around for that college job in your first year as a HC was a major no-no.
Initially Kiffin was given some rope at Raiders HQ, but I think he has gradually had it reigned in by Davis to a point where we are at now.There are a lot of coaches who have to work with a GM, in Kiffin's case that means AD, and I don't think Kiffin has shown enough yet to get any more power given to him.His behaviour at times for me has bordered on childish, and his response to the opening game really annoyed me, I preferred Ryan's.I haven't seen Kiffin saying this week after a win that it wasn't down to him and the press should speak to Ryan and Davis.

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok so what would you two have prefered him to say when they asked him about pressuring the QB in the donks game? just curious how you guys would have worded your prefered reponse. word yourselfs carefully and remember that he has to answer on the spot.

frkyraider

3:45 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Let me address and clarify a few points.

Point 1:

In reference to Kiffin's comments following the Denver game, this the question he was posed and his answer:

Asked why the Raiders don’t blitz more, Kiffin replied:

“Well, we talk about it early in the week. Rob (Ryan, the defensive coordinator) and the owner are always in communication. For the most part, I let Rob do his thing over there. He has a belief in certain things and he has a conversation with the owner about that. So, that wasn't the way the game plan ended up the other night.”

A reporter then asked Kiffin whether it wouldn’t be natural to blitz more, considering the confidence the Raiders have in their cornerbacks.
“Yeah, I’m not going to really get into if I was the defensive coordinator, what I would do, because that doesn’t really matter. I’m the head coach. I oversee everything and I control what I can control. Do I have the exact belief we do on defense? No, but it’s hard to have the exact belief that we do.”

Kiffin just witnessed a game where there was zero sacks, zero QB hurries, and zero knockdowns. His quote above is hardly childish, inflammatory, or insubordinate.

Point 2:

"Ryan's rant was awesome that was leadership"

Let's not get things twisted. Yes, Ryan held himself accountable for the piss performance of his D but he was instructed by Davis to hold the press conference. (see below)

Q: So there was no tension last week?

Kiffin: The part that I saw of Rob’s press conference last week I didn’t take that it was really at me. I took it as Rob had to do what Rob had to do. Rob told me that morning that that was going to happen. He already knew that he had to do that. He told me that morning that that was going to take place so I had no problem with it.

Further rebuttal to FL:

2. What's been proven? That Jerry Jones went to Arkansas. Beyond Kiffin's name being mentioned as a potential candidate, he didn't interview for the job. UArkansas initiated the process of selecting their HC. UArkansas and the media were the ones circulating Kiffin's name. There is no proof whatsoever that Kiffin sought out the opening.

3. What specific quotes about 'competition' are you referring to? Please let me know.

4. The acouunt I got from JMac on Ryan is that he was interested in leaving the Raiders and persuing the NYJ job. Both Kiffin and Ryan have stated publicly that Kiffin didn't try to fire Ryan. It was Davis who held on to Ryan and wouldn't let him out of his contract.

5. Has anyone ever questioned Kiffin's work ethic? I base my opinion about his complete dedication by the feedback of the entire team, camp reports, etc. Just curious, but in what regard to you think his dedication is lacking?

I think we can all agree that Kiffin, a 31 year old 1st year HC, was put in a very difficult situation from day 1. This is a dysfunctional organization and he inherited a spiritless, talent depleted roster. He hasn't been perfect with the way he has handled the media but the vast majority of his interviews have come across as a professional, IMO.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CJ,

Last you will hear from me on this issue:

Read the quotes you printed.

Kiffin basically airs dirty laundry in public and absolves himself of responsiblity for the D after a poor showing.

Even if it is true it shows a lack of class on his part an certainly no unity

Then he proceeds to say Rob's rant was something he was put up to in other words he is calling Ryan a puppet.

Regarding no competition and dissing the roster here is a quote from him from mid august

http://www.ibabuzz.com/raidersblog/2008/08/17/kiffin-not-enough-competition/

Another day, another hint of discontent from coach Lane Kiffin regarding the stagnant roster.

“You know, some guys have been released at other places and people are picking them up, you’d like to pick up some of those guys and bring them in, because they’ve been in other camps, and push some of our guys,” Kiffin said. “Unfortunately there are some guys right now on our roster that are
borderline guys that as of today would make it just because we don’t have anybody else.”

Why haven’t the Raiders brought in more players?

“You’ve got to be willing to release people,” Kiffin said. “When guys are in the training room, they’re not out here practicing, you’ve to be willing to release ‘em, and live with it, and pick other people up for more competition.”

Kiffin was asked if that was his doing and if he was reluctant to release players.

“No, I’m not,” Kiffin said.

Lane Kiffin = punk

Florida Raider

8:38 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Thanks for the "competition" quote FL. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree.

IMO, Kiffin made a very valid point about the fact we had some marginal (at best) players taking up valuable roster spots during training camp who were injured.

Instead of releasing them in a injury buyout and having new players brought in to raise the competition level in camp, we were stuck in quicksand with a number of positions desperately needing an infusion of depth.

Keep on bringing your views to SBF and enjoy the rest of your week. CJ

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

CJ is right. This guy from SI (who actually is a neighbor of mine) also nails it to the wall:
http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=Aj113Jzui.r04IfkPx61Svc5nYcB?slug=ms-thegameface091908&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

In the meantime, anyone care to talk about the upcoming game?

2:51 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Raider football ... YES, let's get back to discussing the upcoming game vs. Buffalo.

Bush is going to need a MONSTER game for the Raiders to come home with a DUB. With Run DMc and Walker's playing condition uncertain, we need to have some solid contributions from players like Curry, Lelie, Miller, Bush, and of course Russell.

Russell might need to take off the training wheels if Run DMc isn't at 100% Kiffin will need to open up the playbook and take a few more chances down the field.

I am hopeful that Ryan will cut the dogs of war loose and play an EXTREMELY aggressive brand of defensive football. We will need some turnovers, sacks, and BIG plays by the D to create a short field and scoring opportunities.

The Special Teams unit will play a significant role in this game. Big plays by the return units, solid coverage play, and banner days from SeaBass and Lechler will make a difference. Buffalo has an outstanding return game and above average ST unit.

I would love to see the Raiders get an early lead, establish a punishing run game, and have the D get after Edwards with a fury. Another win on the road will buy Kiffin an additional week employed and set us up for a divisional showdown with the Bolts at home.

Silver and Black Forever,
Calico Jack :0

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

Just watched the end of game in Denver airport. MOTHERF*CKER!! I find myself defending a shitty, unqualified coach from an insane owner. It's a no-win: if we can the coach, we just send the message to all future coaches that they are Davis' bitches. If we keep him, well, we keep him. Not a good set of options.

2:09 PM  

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