Rebuild Not Reload
This past game vs. San Diego has many Raider fans inching ever so close to a "last straw" moment. 3 games are left in a disappointing and hollow season. I hate to drudge in the misery but the first step in any "healing" process is to admit there is a problem. The second part to the equation will require a new mindset emanating from Alameda. The solutions need to be to rebuild the organization from the ground up and to quit cutting corners with the "reload" approach.
* Ten consecutive blowouts on nationally televised prime time games
* Six consecutive seasons of double digit losses
* Six Head Coaches in the past eight seasons
* A gaping hole to fill at GM
* A young QB struggling in his development
* A lame duck, dead man walking, interim Head Coach
* A locker room culture of losing, cashing a paycheck, and moving on
The vast majority of the Raiders problems stem from a lack of true leadership. The elephant in the room is Al Davis. Al Davis dictates the direction of the organization. Davis is the final authority on personnel, operations, and business.
The 2 most important decisions facing Davis this upcoming offseason is how much does he value a GM and Head Coach. In the case of a GM, it is rather bizarre, unsettling, and dysfunctional that the Raiders have this key executive position vacant. Is it any wonder that it is next to impossible to recruit, attract, and hire a top echelon Head Coach? What gets in my craw is that Davis willingly throws money around on players where he is bidding against himself yet is a complete miser when it comes to paying Head Coaches fair market value. Who do you think has a greater impact on a franchise's success ... a Head Coach or a cornerback? Davis paid $1M a game to Hall but no Raider Head Coach has earned more than $2.3M a season.
The question that needs to be answered is simply "When will the light bulb go on in Davis' thick cranium to realize he desperately needs help?" Along those lines, is it even possible for Davis to view the owner/GM/Head Coach relationship as a true partnership?
In order to build sustainable success each leader has a unique role to fill but the overall plan of each leader needs to be in synch with each other. For the past six seasons, the Raiders have assembled a team where:
(a) the players don't fit the system
(b) the system changes with each successive Head Coach
(c) there has been an emphasis on the shiny skilled players but a wanton neglect to build the foundation of a team ... the trenches
(d) the cap dollars have not been spent wisely (see Kelly, Walker, Hall, Harris)
Here's how it usually works when rebuilding a team (see Dolphins):
A GM is hired who in turn selects a Head Coach. The Head Coach hand picks his coaching staff. The GM and Head Coach select players from the draft and free agency that fit a specific blueprint or system. Players with bad attitudes, poor production, or who don't fit the specific system of the team are promptly shown the door. Both the GM and Head Coach are given all the tools, support, latitude, and authority to build a successful team within 3 years together.
The Raiders have been going through Head Coaches like paper towels. The GM role has been vacant for all practical purposes since 2002 when Bruce Allen left Oakland to follow Gruden to Tampa Bay. Instability at GM and Head Coach over the past six seasons has resulted in a winning percentage of 23%.
Is six consecutive seasons of being bottom feeders enough to propel Davis towards a new way of conducting business in Oakland? The most dramatic change hopefully starts in the mind of Al Davis. Davis asking for and getting help would lead to a standing ovation in the Raider Nation.