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Where Lane and Al went wrong

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Update: Talking to reporters on the field following the Senior Bowl, Lane Kiffin sidestepped questions regarding his status with the Raiders.

“I’m not going to comment on that. That’s got nothing to do with this game, these guys’ last game here, and I’m real proud of the way they played and competed,” Kiffin said. “It was a fun week.”

Asked if he will be coaching the Raiders in the fall, Kiffin said, “I hope so.”

There are a lot of different ways Lane Kiffin could have shot down reports regarding his demise in the eyes of Al Davis, and reasonable people can agree that saying “I’m not going to comment on anything that transpired in the last three weeks” is not one of them.

Nor is coaching the Senior Bowl in a black Under Armour windbreaker, with the name “Raiders” nowhere in sight. The rest of the staff is adorned in Raiders gear.

It reminds me of the time Jon Gruden showed up to his season-ending press conference the day after a playoff loss to New England in a maroon polo shirt instead of his usual Raiders garb.

Not long afterward, he was on his way to Tampa Bay.

During Saturday’s Senior Bowl broadcast, field reporter Charles Davis said Kiffin told him he didn’t want to comment on rumors that Davis asked for his resignation, essentially the same thing he said the day before.

“He said he didn’t want to comment on anything that happened in the last three weeks to a month, but what I do want to focus on is this game today,” Davis reported Kiffin as saying. “We focused on these kids all week long and coaching them, we’re going to focus on them today in this game. We don’t want to cheat them at all.”

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said he believed the Raiders and Kiffin were negotiating a settlement of his contract, the end result being Oakland would be the first team since the Minnesota Vikings in 1984 (Les Steckel) and 1985 (Bud Grant) to have consecutive coaches who lasted a single season.

A year ago, Kiffin was hailed by Davis as superior to Jon Gruden, glossing over the fact that his first choice was actually Steve Sarkisian, the co-offensive coordinator along with Kiffin at USC. Davis raved about Kiffin’s grasp of the total game and his value as a personnel man because of his background as recruiting coordinator.

It wasn’t just Davis’ refusal to part with Rob Ryan that fractured the relationship, although that was part of it.

The fact is, it became apparent as the season went on that Kiffin and Davis differ philsophically, and many of the things Kiffin did and said no doubt rubbed the boss the wrong way.

Davis believes he has stocked the Raiders with enough talent to be consistent winners.

“We’ve got good players. What I worry about is injuries,” Davis said during a training camp press conference.

Kiffin, looking at the 15-49 record upon his arrival, never bought it. He admitted making final cuts wasn’t all that difficult because the Raiders didn’t have enough good players to make it difficult.

When the Raiders finished the season by facing Green Bay, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Denver, Kiffin, when assessing how his team had held together, said, it was difficult “when you’re not playing anybody like yourself.”

While perhaps not meant as a jab at Davis’ acquisition of talent, go ahead and assume Davis felt that way.

The week the Raiders played the Colts, Kiffin talked with admiration about a roster stocked with the type of players Davis wouldn’t want.

“Their linebackers are 5-11. They’ve got a 5-9 safety, a 6-foot defensive end,” Kiffin said. “They get a lot of people later in rounds that other people don’t take because of size or because of what they evaluate. They see what other people don’t. In that system, tackling is one of the first things you evaluate, and you can see it. They take people, because they’re really good players, and they tackle real well.”

Davis made it clear during training camp that dealing Randy Moss was Kiffin’s idea.

“If Lane felt that was best for the team I was going to do it,” Davis said. “And we did it. We didn’t get near what we should have. Randy Moss, if he’s well, can still play, in my opinion. Our coaches didn’t think so.”

It couldn’t have set well with Davis when Kiffin blamed him for breeding the culture which Moss wanted no part of.

“Randy had made it very clear to me, his statement was, ‘Coach, this has nothing to do with you. I have already heard great things about what you are doing there already, but I am not going to play for that organization, and I don’t want any part of it. I don’t like the way I have been treated there,’ ” Kiffin told Minnesota writers on a conference call.

“It was out of my control. Randy wasn’t going to play here and he made it very clear, so it was a direction that this organization needed to go because he wasn’t happy and he wasn’t going to play here for whatever reason, the things that happened before I got here.”

Getting rid of Moss was a big part in another Kiffin belief not held by Davis _ team chemistry.

Kiffin made repeated references over the course of the season to “cleaning out the locker room” and ridding it of bad influences.

Davis is on record as saying he doesn’t believe in team chemistry.

Where Kiffin stood on the drafting of JaMarcus Russell is not clear. Leading up to the draft, I was told Kiffin preferred Brady Quinn, but I never heard it from Kiffin himself and misinformation is rampant where the draft is concerned.

When the season was over, Kiffin was no longer a Davis prodigy. He was a 4-12 coach, the same as Bill Callahan and Norv Turner in their final seasons. Kiffin was just two games better than Art Shell who had no right to ask for his own choice as defensive coordinator.

To make matters worse in Davis’ eyes, Kiffin did little to refute rumors which connected him to college jobs at Arkansas, Michigan and UCLA.

A Contra Costa Times poll asked readers “As a Raiders fan who would you rather get rid of, Al Davis or Lane Kiffin?

At last check, Davis had 1,112 votes to be shown the door and Kiffin 31.

When Kiffin accepted the job, he made it clear on several occasions it was on the condition that certain things were in place. He never specified what those things were, but implied it had to do with the makeup of the roster and coaching staff.

Hope he got that in writing.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • CopenhagenFan

    I think that SoulPatrol should be our coach.

  • Vicky

    OakGlenn, I totally agree with you. i don’t think we have the personnel ready for Al Saunders offense i.e. speedy receivers, good pass blocking O-Line, receivers who can catch balls. the jury is still out on the QB. I am not saying AL Saunders will do wonders and i think it is a bad move to replace Kiffin at this stage and bring another new system for JR.

  • Big AL’s GOON

    Huff,

    You’re kidding right? Get rid of AL? AL is the guy who hired Mr.USC assistant coach that so many here have a man crush on for absolutely nothing. AL has done way more to help than hurt the Raiders. AL stays Kiffster goes. Raiders continuing moving forward towards consistent winning. We can’t stay with a coach that has proven he isn’t ready. Many here admitted that Kiffin was learning how to be a head coach last year. What a horrible statement to admit. Let him go to some other team and learn how to coach. There are plenty of teams in the NFL that have never won and will never win because winning is not the most important thing to them. Winning is everything to AL. Kiffin can go learn elsewhere.

  • Vicky – I skimmed through that article from MSNBC and whoever wrote doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about.

    If all some of you see in Kiffin is a 4-12 product then you are surely blind.

  • Copenhagen..lol, there´s no such thing. common mistake.

  • Edward T – Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

    You the man.

    Just Win Baby.

  • M

    The passion of the fans here is what makes this Nation unlike any other. The calling out of so and so by so and so is a bit detracting but hey, that’s passion. Marley and Oakglenn seem to settle y’all down with reasoned thoughts. Very nice.

  • in response to your question “M”, my answer is yes. kiffin, or any other head coach, should should have total control over who his coaches and players are. i understand this is not SOP in oaktown. al davis should only be signing checks. his constant meddling and underminding of his head coaches sends a clear messege to assitant coach as well as players: the HC is not in control. this is what causes discord.

    this a complete mess. if kiffin stays, he’ll have no control and no say in anything. players and coaches, especially those who are “al’s boys”, will get away with whatever they want. no one will be held accountable. that is except for the guy with no power: lane kiffin. he is a no-win situation, just like the unlucky sap will replaces him.

    this is how al’s rouge leadership hurts the organization. all reports of al’s reputation, true or untrue, eliminate A LOT of great players and coaches from even considering oakland as a new home. as long as AD is around, we’ll have to tolerate other teams tablescraps in terms of free agents and coaches.

  • Oakgeek: I’m waiting…

  • Edward T

    Don’t let Fluff push you around Fire Kiffin. He is always playing both sides to a fence garbage and then tells us he was correct. Anybody can be do that like a politician, or he’ll get out his encyclopedia info and prove how smart he is.

  • Huff24

    Big Al’s GOON – Do you realize that Al Davis is the one hiring these guys and giving these guys 3 year contracts only to turn around and not give them 3 years? What does that say about Al Davis’ mind? Does he not even trust in his own decision? Does he forget why he hired him? Does he change his mind? What does that do for a franchise in dire need of consistency? I believe in Kiffin more because I have agreed with most decisions he has made. Lets be honest, without Kiffin we wouldn’t have Tom Cable, Tom Rathman and Greg Knapp.

    We wouldn’t have the #6 Rushing attack and a better prepared Jamarcus Russell for next year. Fargas would have never been great this year. This team would have been Art Shell #2 this year and we would have been lucky to win 2 games. We would have had another poor draft. We wouldn’t have had Zack Miller, Oren O’Neal, Justin Griffith, Cooper Carlisle, Jeremy Newberry, a new Robert Gallery. Kiffin is getting rid of alot of bad players. Some players he brings are temporary players but they are needed until this team can be turned around and thats alot of work.

    Why would Al Davis hire Kiffin and say great things about him? If you trust AD so much, you would trust AD’s decision making. Period. What will AD do now? Hire Sarkisian? Will you then blame Sarkisian for being a bad coach?

  • Big AL’s GOON

    Coppenhagen,

    Where is it written that it takes 3 years to have winning program? It didn’t take Gruden 3 years to have a winning program. It didn’t take the Pittsburgh coach Tomlin 3 years. Sean Payton didn’t need 3 years. etc., etc.,etc. The list goes on and on of coaches in their first year doing well. That 3 year plan crap is just that crap. If you can coach you can coach.

  • M

    Thanks for the response Gannon’s_Love _Child. I figured that you would give a well thought out response and you did.

  • Edward T

    Bobby
    OAK is like GOD on this blog he is always right so bow done and listen to his almighty.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Did you see Daunte trying to line up with the fins again?

  • Huff24

    Edward T – I’m sorry. Who are you again? I don’t recall seeing you until now. Now you have something to say? Please. Don’t kiss too much Fire Kiffin @$$ now. He’ll soon change his name to Fire Green and then maybe Fire Shell once again. After that…who knows? If we’re lucky, we just might be the first team to have 10 coaches in 10 straight years.

  • Oakgeek: You just explained how you were going to school me on how to keep Raider Nation together and all you have to say is that I’m gay?

    Is that what you were referring to when you said “Watch and learn.”?

    Go Raiders.

  • Hey Huff I think Edward T is Bobby Comers gay lover.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    you know what I don’t get his why people who were in the “know” stated that Al listens but it’s up to that person to sell him the plan. Well, Kiff sells Al on trading Randy and now he is mad at him for what? Being fooled?

  • CopenhagenFan

    GOON…there is no official rule that it takes 3 years to win. Kiffin was given a 3 year contract and the Raiders were the worst team in the league when he took over. I see 3 years as being reasonable.

    You cite 3 coaches in your argument. Tomlin inherited a team that had just won the Super Bowl 2 years before and was coming off an down season because their QB was nearly killed and was screwed up the entire year.

    Gruden took over a team built by Tony Dungy and pushed them over the edge to the Super Bowl. If Gruden is so great why did Al Davis fire him?

    The list goes on and on? You only have ONE single example of a one year turnaround, Sean Payton. Is that all you got? Do your homework or stay out of the kitchen.

    I think that Kiffin CAN coach. He showed that as he vastly improved the worst team in the league and made a disaster into a season where we were in most of the games, only to be thwarted by our Defense that gave up points on the ensuing drive after we took the lead in the 4th quarter on countless occassions. As the good coach he is, Kiffin tried to rid himself of the coordinator of the failure of a defense and is getting canned because of it.

  • CopenhagenFan

    OAKGLENN…it seems as if Soul Patrol is gay. He has “gaydar” if he can identify them so well.

  • Huff24

    Big Al’s GOON – As a matter of fact…it did take Gruden 3 years to build a winning team. Going 2 years at 8-8 is not a winning recrod. 9-7 would be a winning record. He went 12-4 in his 3rd year.

    As far as Tomlin goes. He took over a winning team because the Head Coach retired. Most of the assitant coaches, including the Defensive Coordinator were mainstays so there was alot of consistency and chemistry left over the the past regime. A Winning Franchise.

    I would agree with you about Sean Payton and the Saints. They were incredible in their first year. Did you notice they missed the playoffs this year? Not everything always pans out the way you expect.

  • Nice Cope

  • Raider Glory

    Im tired of all the B.S. that goe’s on with the Raiders!! I really am!! Al Davis is really starting to make it a drag to be a Raider fan. But rest assured, I blame Lame Kiffin as well as AD!! They both leave a lot to be desired as owner and coach…….Any one who believes that Kiffin was not looking to get hired in Arkansas or UCLA is a fool. He wants no part of the Raiders!! Not anymore. It was always a short stop just to get some leverage!! But I am tired of defending Al Davis! And his STUPID decision making!! This entire organization has become a FARSE!! A real NFL laughing stock!!! HOW PATHETIC!!!!!

    P.S. So, Who do you guys think will be our next COACH???? LOL!!

    GO RAIDRS!!!!!

  • Huff24

    Oakglenn – I’m going to have to agree with you on that one.

  • sloraider

    Al sent the letter for resignation to the wrong coach, it should have been Ryan. the D sucked this season and the O improved and headed in the right direction. Al is thinking ass backwards.

  • i’m sure all this nonsense al has created will do wonders for his young franchise quarterback. a new HC, OC, QBC will set jruss back yet another year or two. it’s a good thing he was in training camp last year. oh wait……

    i’ve always been a critic of al davis. there are some guys on here (bob marley, BHP, ect.) who have made me try to be objective in terms of AD. the fact that this story is even on the news wire gives it a little bit of truth, which in turn, completely destroys ANY objectivity i’ve tried to muster when speaking of al davis.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Man Goon you are getting ya butt kicked here and you still haven’t answered my Denny Green question

  • Fluffy24 – Would you like me to look up the post where you proclaim that Fluffy 24 is out if Kiffin is out?

    Or would you prefer to let sleeping dogs lie?

    Just Win Baby.

  • Big AL’s GOON

    Huff,

    Signing anyone to a contract that they don’t live up to and then firing them is sound. Look he gave Kiffin a chance. Kiffin failed, badly. Time to move on. Fargas running well is no surprise neither is Fargas being injured. Our draft was not great. We got JR who is still a big ? and Zack Miller who is a decent TE. That’s it. OO is nothing to write home about and JLH is garbage. Henderson is a project and so is Bush. The O-line was better than last year but, that wasn’t hard to accomplish. Believe me just like AL found Mr. Kiffin he will find another coach, a better coach.

  • Huff24

    Actually…I’ll have to apologize to Bobby Comer because I have nothing against him. I saw Edward T and Gay in the same sentence and immediately replied. Sorry to Bobby Comer. You didn’t deserve that kind of treatment.

  • CopenhagenFan

    I am angry because Al Davis hired a punk with no experience and sells him to us as a boy wonder with a 3 year plan to get us back on track and persuades us to buy into it and then pulls the rug from under us.

    I see this as screwing me over and manipulating me as a fan. This is where my anger towards Al Davis is derived.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Glory, it will be Saunders but Lofton has a shot. Saunders has no where else to go, well Lofton doesn’t either but both will be cheap that is the main thing. Kiff will get his settlement on condition of his silence, so Al can say nothing went on as usual.

  • M

    I wonder if anyone ever asked Russell what sort of offense he would prefer to run? What he feels most comfortable with. That seems to work for Roethlisberger and his OC.

  • Huff24

    FIRE KIFFIN – You’re still blowing smoke out of your @$$. All this talking and no action is starting to bore me. You don’t really have any credibility anyways. You won’t even put in the work to prove your point. You’ll probably create something I said before you’ll even look it up because you want to be right….just like Al Davis.

  • Well, according to Ira Miller it turns out that Kiffin has only 1 year left on his contract for 1.7 Million.

    He say´s all the other reports claiming he has 2 years and 4 million remaining are wrong, of course a ”team source” told him.

  • Edward T

    Fluff24
    My job does not give me the chance to post 50 or so comments a day like you. I know you live in the Bay Area and every night I scan this sight.
    I ‘m to busy to post and just read with fun your typical rants over this past year.The final straw for me was your total disrespect for BHP.
    He has been on many radio stations and has better insight to the Raiders than you, you just cant stand that ,your just a jealous punk.
    So that’s who I am.Just because you post doesnt make you better than anyone else here.
    You seem like a boring guy here posting all the time, get a LIFE!!!!!

  • Hobs Gnarly

    I will give you Kiff is a project, but Al loves projects and what is the difference in having him stay for the sake of continutity? Changing coaches every year hasn’t done them any good.

  • sloraider

    Kiffin failed? Did expect a a 12-4 season this season?
    You got to be crazy.

  • Point being…..misinformation everywhere.

  • M

    uh, Gannon’s_Love_Child, the WMD in Iraq made all the media outlets as well.

  • raiderdude

    what IF!………FK is…..Al Davis?

  • Hobs Gnarly

    BHP is on the Raider payroll, whether he receives money or not the guy is being used as a propaganda tool. He too can’t stand a change from cleaning house and getting rid of the dead weight around the Raiders.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    dude, Al doesn’t have that much energy

  • CopenhagenFan

    RaiderDude..Al Davis must be more eloquent than Fire Kiffin…….

  • La Milicia Negra

    Before the playoffs, i believed Al Saunders was the next HC in Washington, because everybody said so when they hired him, that he was to inherit Joe Gibbs team. I know Greg Williams was the hot name all year, but I still kept my believes that Saunders would be the man, now it looks like none of them will be there next year..

    Al Saunders was a great OC in Kansas. In fact our entire coaching corp would have more merit with Lorton and Al Saunders. But I still feel and think that Kiffin would have/will do a better job had he been/is he allowed to finish the plan he had/has intended.

    Saying that gruden didn’t need a 3 year plan is foolish in my mind, Gruden got a team with players that had had winning seasons once in their career. Many of Kiffins players never had a winning season. This was supposed to be a long fix not a small one that would end quick.

    My perfect scenario, though its a not going to happen is, HC: Kiffin, OC: Al Saunders, QBcoach Knapp, WRcoach Lofton, O-linecoach Cable, DC Ryan, D-linecoach Orgeron, LBcoach Sean McDermott, DBc Raheem Morris and Darren Perry

  • Scottish Raider

    This is like a Shakespearian tragedy. I just can’t figure out whether Al Davis is the King Lear character, the demented and delusional dying monarch surrounded by treacherous courtiers and a dysfuctional family, or is he Shylock, the bitter old miser who has just struck the devil’s own bargain and is now watching his world collapse around him.

    I appreciate that many posters retain a nostalgic fondness for Davis – the swashbuckling rebel, the great anti-hero of profootball. I also fully accept that Kiffin is not yet a coach in the Dungy, Belichick class. But, the inevitable end of this sorry saga is the fall of Al Davis. Irrespective of whether you think that he is or isn’t competent, relevant, honourable or any other of the adjectives scattered thoughout the 600+ posts before this one, the most damning label that Davis cannot remove is a small, five-letter word:

    LOSER

    We could forgive his quirks, his idiosyncracies, his media games, his arrogance and everything else if this was even close to being a winning franchise. But it isn’t. This is the worst performing franchise in the NFL over the past five years. Players have come in, failed and been cut. Coaches have come in, failed and been sacked. Schemes have been tried, seen to fail and replaced by something equally unsuccessful. The only consistent factor in the Raider’s abject mediocrity has been Al Davis. His hires, his fires, his total responsibility.

    That is why I have given up on Davis. He is a loser.

  • Huff24

    Big Al’s GOON – Honestly. What kind of expectations did Al Davis have for Kiffin to turn around a 2-14 team? You said Kiffin failed badly…compared to what? The last 5 years? The O-Line was better than last year but that wasn’t hard to accomplish? I can understand being better than last year…but #6 in rushing? This is the NFL. Do you realize how much better that truly is? Thats an incredible number when you consider the players on that line. You say that Al will find a better coach. Who? No big name coach wants to come here. Why do you think that is? Seriously…tell me why? Its because Al doesn’t give them the power they need to succeed. Thats why.

  • Big AL’s GOON

    Huff,

    I’d take 8-8 over 4-12 anyday and check out Pittsbugh’s record the year before Tomlin took over. And as usual you can make up as many excuses for other coaches success and Kiffin’s failure all day. The fact still remains Kiffin failed and should be fired just like all the other failed NFL coaches who were sweating at seasons end waiting for the “your fired” hammer to drop.

    Gnarly’s

    Get a clue, the only butt getting kicked around here is the KIffster’s right out of the Raiders organization. Also,I answered you Denny Green question. Keep up Hobs.

  • Huff24

    Bobby Comer – Ouch. I even apologized to you. Nevermind. Yes. Church is more important than the GAME of football. Notice this is just a game? Church is real life and I base my priority in life on my family and my true God. You can keep on making a game a priority while ignorning the most important things in life. Thats fine. Its your life. You’ll pay the price for that later.