Monday, December 08, 2008

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calico Jack,
Seeing the Dolphins turnaround this year only magnifies the Raiders situation. It infuriates me that they can bring in one person, who in turn brings in their own staff, and transforms a 1-15 team into a squad that is now contending for the playoffs. All the excuses that our organization gives for our continued losing only rings hollow now. But until there is bonafide change in the front office, no amount of high draft picks or flashy free agent signings will turn this franchise around. The very man that engineered our resurrection back in the 60's is now tearing down the foundation that he HIMSELF built. Sad.....

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calico Jack, what have you been watching the past many years?? All the negative aspects of the Raiders organization [Al Davis alone] were evident throughout the past decades beginning [IMO]with the dismissal of Shanahan as HC. Shanahan's only misdeed in the eyes of Al Davis was Shanahan's desire to apply team discipline: he [tried to] banned the Raiders' practice of sitting on their helmets. The players rebelled and addressed their displeasure to Owner Al Davis and Al completely sided with the players. He fired Shanahan.

Currently, in Thursday night's post-NFL show, Dion Sanders correctly identified the lack of team chemistry as a factor for their dismal performance on the field. The Raiders are merely a collection of players with [some] individual skills but do not perform as a team. Al Davis does not believe in "team chemistry". Sanders noted the assorted socks the backfield players wore; they did not conform with the NFL-specified ones. And no one in the Raiders management [owner, coaches, et al] cares. Al Davis loves this sort of anti-establishment behavior as a showcase of the Raiders' toughness, swagger......

8:54 AM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

nice post calico but keep dreaming. how long have i been harping on the fact that davis IS THE ONE AND ONLY PROBLEM? glad to see you guys have finally figured that out to put it quite bluntly.

you're right. even if he does hire a GM, when does his meddling stop?

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

My fear is he hires Matt Millen as GM, and Mike Leach (Texas Tech) as Head Coach.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just a few years ago joe paterno was also being pressured just like al is now.....look at him now, back in a bcs game and successful, although he will get waxed by usc...all i care about with the raiders is "just win baby". we in the raider nation deserve a winner, 6 years running does hurt real bad. however, i will not lose

1:00 PM  
Blogger Bitter_Raider said...

So the seasons a bust Russle aint doing crap but who gives a #%$@ so long as we beat the Patriots this Sunday!!!!

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

I know that we agree that front office moves need to happen. A solid GM, a new solid HC that will have more than 2 year contract, and Al to relinquish his control.
It's a bit of a stretch, but I hope it can happen.
With that, we also need some major help as a team. Here are some offseason moves that I would like to see, including the draft.
Major Free Agent signings:
Nnamdi Asomugha, CB, Raiders-after being elected to his first Pro-Bowl, the Raiders cannot franchise tag him, and sign him to a long-term deal after releasing Javon Walker.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh, WR, Bengals-needing a #1 WR badly, the Raiders dig deep and get TJ.
Khalif Barnes, OT, Jaguars-they go under the radar and get a decent veteran Tackle.

Players cut/released/traded/lost to FA:
Ronald Curry, Javon Walker, Kwame Harris, Cornell Green, Cooper Carlisle, Jake Grove, Jon Wade, Terdell Sands, Sam Williams, Michael Bush (traded), Michael Huff, Marques Tuiasosopo

First 6 picks in Draft (in order):
1. Michael Oher, OT Mississippi (6’5”, 318 lbs, projected 3rd pick)
2. Ramses Barden, WR Cal Poly
3. Cedric Dockery, OG Texas (6’4”, 320 lbs)
4. Pannel Egboh, DE Stanford
5. Alex Mack, C California (6’5”, 300 lbs)
6. Cody Brown, OLB Connecticut

Possible FA Signings for Cheap $$:
Shaun Cody, DT, Lions
Pete Kendall, OG, Redskins
Chris Kemoeatu, OG, Steelers
Ashley Lelie, WR, Raiders
Drew Carter, WR, Raiders
Jabar Gaffney, WR, Patriots
Grady Jackson, DT, Falcons
Gabe Watson, DT, Cardinals
Brad Meester, C, Jaguars
Jon Stinchcomb, OT, Saints
George Foster, OT, Lions
Milford Brown, OG, Jaguars

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

Possible coaches:
Jack Del Rio
Jim Harbaugh
James Lofton (possible OC too)
Mike Leach (God forbid, but I hear his name mentioned)
Wade Phillips
Jim Schwartz
Bill Cowher (not likely, but a wish)
Mike Murlarkey
Gary Kubiak (not likely)
Mark Trestman

Possible GM's:
Jim Fassell
Dennis Green
Scot McCloughan
Reggie McKenzie
John Schneider
James Harris

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last six years have been terrible but so much negativity is nto warranted. If you measure Raiders/Al in ten year increments then the glass is half full----three division championships, two conference championship games and one AFC title in last 9 years. Many teams would kill for that--- things will come back around

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that last post makes sense I mean Cowboys have not won a playoff game since 96 and no one is calling for Jerry Jones to step down

12:30 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Good job Nate. (If you haven't already read it yet) I highly recommend that you read the book "The Blind Side: Eveolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis ... it is the life story of Michael Oher. An amazing, fascinating, true story of "Big Mike".

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Last six years have been terrible but so much negativity is nto warranted. If you measure Raiders/Al in ten year increments then the glass is half full----three division championships, two conference championship games and one AFC title in last 9 years. Many teams would kill for that--- things will come back around"
12:23 PM

alot of people say we are the WORST AND EVERYTHING about AL DAVIS BUT what this person said is so true. ALot of teams wish they could say this, AND WE MADE IT TO THE SUPERBOWL against a team lead by Jon Gruden ( who knew every play we would use out there because he taught CALLAHAN everything he knew when he was at OAKLAND)that were very ready for us. I think like this yeah we made it there and didnt get it done ...but so did the undefeated(pats at the time) patriots. Which ny the way was a great superbowl. So as a franchise in shambles we will get back and the chargers will still choke. And another thing... AT least when we are in our prime and make it to playoffs WE DONT LOOSE BY A FEILD GOAL @ YEARS IN A ROW!!! HA HA HA HA 14-2 L. T. WHO!!!! also this year is great because everybody thought the SAN diego SUPER CHARGERS would get there and we trailed them most of the season one game under them and we have a very young team with no leadership at gm and a coach who should of had more of a shot but we really dont know what wasd going on with lane. So even with everything up in the air we still had a shot. A very small shot but a shot and the afc west wont take it this year and that was what alot of people thought. So for this year it is over and we need to turn this thing around. We will get there and SAN DIEGO WISHES THEY STILL HAD SHOTTENHEIMER!!! so to end my comment i will leave you guys with this....(WITH SHOTTENHEIMER 14-2 L.T. WHO)

OH and that idiot who wrote
"Calico Jack, what have you been watching the past many years?? All the negative aspects of the Raiders organization [Al Davis alone] were evident throughout the past decades beginning [IMO]with the dismissal of Shanahan as HC. Shanahan's only.....ect..
you are just another RAider hater and that is the way we like it because you guys are wack and screw SHannahan we got them good in DENVER. THERE HAS ALSO BEEN ALOT THAT HAS HAPPENED SINCE SHANNAHAN LEFT.


5:12 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...


You might be right ... I'm a 'dreamer' who is hoping for something that seems highly unlikely.

What I'm 'dreaming' about is that the past six years of humiliating results leads to a MAJOR, life altering awakening by Al Davis. Davis must finally realize that to reach the pinnacle in his profession once again he needs to do the following;

(1) He needs to hire the best available people; A GM and HC is the most obvious starting point (see Nate's list). A Harris (GM) & Harbaugh (HC) would bring hope.

(2) He needs to trust the people he hires which will lessen his inclination to be so damn meddlesome.

(3) He needs to delegate responsibility ... at 79 years old he simply doesn't have the energy, focus, nor time to devote to the dual role of Owner/GM.

(4) He needs to give key people the necessary authority and latitude to do their jobs to the best of their abilities

(5) He needs to pay the key people fair market value for their expertise and level of responsibility

(6) He needs to give the key people all of the support, resources, and tools to be successful both short and long term.

(7) He needs to REBUILD not RELOAD

Is any of this possible? Yes but only if Davis changes his mindset and ways of conducting business.

For all the posters that say things like things will turn around; six years doesn't warrant so much negativity; Paterno is back; the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996 etc.

* Things will turn around if and only if we get real leadership in the form of a savvy GM and competent HC. With the vacancy at GM and 6 HC's in 8 years ... there is no tangible signs that things will get better. On our current track things will get worse not better unless significant changes are made within the organization.

* Yes, the past 6 years does in fact warrant negativity. I'm a loyal customer. I expect a better product on the field. A 23% winning percentage over the past 6 years is atrocious. With our next loss we will become the only NFL team in modern history to have 6 consecutive seasons of 11 losses or more.

* Paterno's situation is comparing apples to oranges with the Raiders. Paterno is a HC figurehead who has all of the support of the University behind him. The fact that PSU is playing in a BSC bowl after a major drought isn't suprising when you consider that Paterno has always had the full support, resources, tools, and staff to improve the program.

* As far as the Cowboys go, it does please me that they have gone so long without a playoff win. However the reality is that the Cowboys have consistenly fielded competitive teams for most of the past 18 years. A 4 & 12 record (or sub .500 record) would be an aberration for the Cowboys not the norm. Frankly, I really don't care how good or bad the other teams have fared this year or previous seasons. I fully understand that the performance of a team is cyclical. ALL teams have their ups and downs. The difference is we have been WAY down for 6 straight years.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Tooz 72 said...

Don't forget to cut my favorite. How do you spell Gebril Wilson? Q-U-I-T. Dude makes Randy Moss look like a hustler.

10:05 PM  

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