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Taking the offensive

The Raiders made strides with their offense and regressed on defense in 2007, but in terms of addressing it with regard to the coaching staff, they’re starting out moving in the other direction.

On offense in 2007, the Raiders went from 12 touchdowns to 28, from 1,519 yards rushing to 2,086 yards, and from 32nd in time of possession to fifth in the NFL.

On defense in 2007, with less time spent on the field, the Raiders gave up 5,446 yards as opposed to 4,557, 5.7 yards per play as opposed to 4.8 and surrendered 46 touchdowns compared to 34.

The response?

The Raiders issue a statement saying Rob Ryan is still the defensive coordinator, and their first two interview subjects for the coaching staff are on offense _ James Lofton and Al Saunders.

The Raiders have confirmed Lofton’s interview. Bay Area News Group beat writer Steve Corkran and others have reported Saunders’ impending visit.

Lofton has interviewed with Al Davis on two occasions for the head coaching job, but senior executive John Herrera said it is for an assistant’s position and that interview will be with Kiffin.

Lofton coached wide receivers for the Chargers until being fired last week and has more NFL experience than Charles Coe, a veteran college coach who had his first NFL season with the Raiders last season.

The Saunders interview is another story. There are only two positions Saunders would be intereviewing for _ head coach and offensive coordinator.

Saunders, like Lofton, has a history with Davis, having interviewed for the Raiders head coaching job twice before removing his name from consideration.

But if Saunders isn’t coming in to talk about Kiffin’s job, then it means offensive coordinator Greg Knapp could be on his way out.

Saunders, as an offensive coordinator with the Rams, Chiefs and Redskins, called all the plays. Kiffin called plays for the Raiders, with Knapp, a play-caller with the both the Falcons and 49ers, taking the Raiders job only after deciding he and Kiffin were comptabile in terms of philosophy.

ESPN is reporting Saunders is also a candidate to be offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, where he would be the play-caller.

There is almost no way to interpret the interest in Saunders as anything other than an acknowledgement that Davis is preparing for the possibility that Kiffin either won’t call the plays or won’t be the head coach.

And if you take Davis at his word last year when he stressed the importance of having a play-caller as the head coach, it would most likely be the latter.

“One of the attributes was he had to have was the ability to call the plays,” Davis said when Kiffin was hired. “To call the plays, to me, that’s vital in professional football today. Some has to be accountable for calling the plays.”

Bringing Saunders aboard would also mean changes in the offensive system. A radical change would be a setback to JaMarcus Russell, who is only the most important person in the franchise who isn’t named Al Davis.

Raiders and PFT
Interesting to note that the Raiders are sending adverstising dollars to ProFootballTalk.com, the hugely popular rumor and information site which makes its living posting the very stories which the organization spends time trying to refute.

Stripped down the left side of the site is a “Raiders Image” ad, noting the stores are “owned and operated by the Oakland Raiders.

Under-Armour-gate

Yes, Mike Nolan wore the same coat Lane Kiffin did in the Senior Bowl. Nolan also wore a 49ers hat before replacing it with an Under-Armour skull cap in the fourth quarter when the sun went down and the temperature dipped.

Nolan was also wearing 49ers gear all week at practice and in interviews.

At no time when Kiffin was shown on television was he ever wearing a Raiders shirt or visor. According to PFT, the NFL Network’s Adam Schefter and Albert Breer of the Dallas Morning News reported Kiffin didn’t wear anything with a Raiders logo all week.

Kiffin normally coaches wearing a Raiders visor, although not always. He didn’t wear one Saturday.

I was also told Mark Jackson, Kiffin’s administrative assistant who would follow him out the door should he leave, was not wearing Raiders gear in Mobile and spent a lot of time with USC coach Pete Carroll.

Hard evidence that Kiffin is on his way out? Of course not. Just a subtle message that there are some problems to be worked out between the owner and the coach.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Dakota

    Is there really a press conference set for today, or is someone just yanking people’s chains?

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Here is what more or less what John Madden said this morning:

    John Madden: ”It doesn´t make a lot of sense…I would kinda think Lane Kiffin would still be the coach of the Raiders and they´ll get back on track somehow…

    ”I don´t know that there is a letter…some of the things that they said that you can´t be in meetings and you can´t do this …I can´t believe that Al would have ever written that, I really don´t, I haven´t read or saw where anyone saw that latter…I just have a hard time believeng it”.

    ”I think there´s trouble that needs to be sorted over and it starts with only winning four games and however they did it, the Moss thing and Turner winning and there you have the Raiders only wining 4 games…that leads to frustration…turn that record around and see how it all smells??…everyone would love everyone”.

  • Fender52

    Maybe Madden makes the most sense because, unlike “reporters” like Shefter who have to create news and have something scintilating to say, Madden really has no agenda on all of this. He’s saying what makes sense, even based on his relationship with AD.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Regardless of how each of us feels or thinks-believes…is nice to finally hear someone with a sound reputation weigh in.

  • http://Oakglenn Oakglenn

    M, true, maybe it is a trait of the older generation, the Dungys, Cowhers, Shanahans. Maybe it is a mistake that Davis keeps making. He wants a coach here who’s gonna be a Raider for 5-10 years.
    And for you knuckleheads who say Davis is not gonna let that coach do anything, well, he let kiff make his own offensive hires. kiff wanted a mobile QB. kiff wanted Jeff Garcia. Davis told him to go out and get him. When Garcia wouldn’t come here because he knew we were drafting Russell, Davis let him get McCown and Mike Williams. Davis let him draft Zach Miller cause he needed a tight end. Kiff wanted a fullback so he Davis gave him J. Griffith and O’Neal. Davis let him get rid of Randy Moss, Davis’ prized possession.
    I think they have to address the issue of whether Kiff is really here for the long haul. And personally, I don’t think Kiff did enough to justify taking over the defensive side of the ball, at least not until the end of next season. As I’ve said, I think this whole thing is gonna settle down and it’s back to business as usual.

  • M

    Excellent insight Oakglenn.

  • Florida Pete

    well said OAKGLENN

  • CopenhagenFan

    Gnarly ok I buy your point there. I went overboard, but I still think Al is a micro manager.

    BHP..how has the game changed?

    First of all the players have changed. Almost every lineman is 300 pounds and they can run. You have guys like Roy Williams, T.O., etc at receiver and it’s not like there’s only ONE Harrold Charmichael anymore. They’ll all huge and fast.

    My point being is that it’s tough to just assemble a bunch of guys who outmuscle or outrun the other team. It’s also tough to outsmart the other team. I’ve heard your points about how the West Coast offense has been around before the 49′ers and the Cover 2 has been there before. I won’t argue with you there, other than to say that these conceptual schemes get tweaked a bit and are repackaged in new ways.

    The crux of what I’m saying is that the Raiders have always relied on DOMINATING the other team with power blocking and playing man to man coverage and you just can’t do that anymore, because EVERYBODY has the physical tools. In my opinion, today’s football player has to be a highly intelligent, highly motivated cog in a machine. Getting wasted with Jimmy Buffet and then showing up and throwing 3 TD’s to win the game don’t cut it anymore.

    I’ll use Tony Dungy’s teams as an example, and I already cited The Patriots.

  • M

    And Marley, thanks for furthering the scoop on what John Madden had to say.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Wheels…..

    Don´t forget about Mortensen, he actually started the whole thing on friday and then apparently went mum on the sunday NFL countdown show on espn about the whole thing.

    Someone here posted that Mortenses said on Sturday on the radio that he thought Kiffin would coach the Raiders in 2008. I couln´t confirm that.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    I would love to be a fly on the wall at HQ. The old guy is probably pretty pissed his nation backed the kid. If he only has one year left on contract he will serve it out and then Al will extract his revenge. Maybe then we’ll see Saunders as HC if indeed he is coming in to be OC. I am still confused as to if Saunders is OC what happened to Knapp

  • Blackholepriest

    I would tend to give Madden the benefit of any doubt. He deosn’t qute what he discusses because he doesn’t want the media driving him crazy for raider news but anything he wants to know he can find out in about 2 minutes. He’s a god in that facility.

    So it’s a vitual lock Kiffin will be the Raiders coach for 2008. And it sounds like that letter is just a crock of you know what. If there was a letter at all. He probably wanted Kiffin to know what he thought would be under consideration in upcoming meetings as to the offense and possible changes. But I would think that Davis wanted Kiffin’s entire focus on the senior bowl so there more than likely wasn’t a letter at all.

    Boy today’s media is totally out of control. It knows no bounds.

  • M

    What we really need is the inside scoop from Kiffin’s haberdasher. Then we’ll know everything right?

  • Blackholepriest

    Hobs, Mr. Davis rarely reacts to any of this stuff. He knows the media owns the fans. It’s not even a concern.

  • La Milicia Negra

    CopenhagenRaider….

    Good point… Al Davis is a micro micro manager, no doubt about that… We need a real professional manager, as Al gets older this will be more obvious to Al and everybody around him. Some day he’ll have to take a rest when the business doesn’t allow it.

    We need a man or a woman that can think outside the box. Amy Trask has been a crucial piece in our franchises survival, but we need one more…

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Cope,
    no doubt about it, he is a micro manager. And schemes have been around and recycled, the tampa two or cover two was something the steelers did in the 70′s so I don’t know where Tampa gets credit for that. But it’s all about chemistry and getting the right players to create mismatches. Some schemes are just so old that it’s easy to spot from a mile away as to what your going to do and what you have a penchant for. Where Al is wrong is assuming that chemistry doesn’t matters and you have to respect your coach as an authority otherwise players aren’t going to play as if they have consequences.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    BHP I am sure that is the case. Davis doesn’t care for the fans at all, just a prop and a “tool” for making money

  • ATLRaider

    I’m sure that if your polled Raidernation, and asked who you support in this latest drama:

    99.9% Lane Kiffin
    0.1% Al Davis

    That must surprise even Old Man Davis, with all his dementia.

  • La Milicia Negra

    hobs gnarley..

    If Knapp stays he will become the QB coash no doubt about that. He’ll will become the highest paid QB coach and Al can sell that because everything good to come will be associated with how Jammy will strive…

  • ATLRaider

    Another bad move on Al Davis’ part was keeping Amy Trask over Bruce Allen. Trask is a Loser.

  • CopenhagenFan

    Gnarly…exactly….all these guys are pumped and skilled. They need to play as a disciplined well oiled machine…A TEAM where each guy does his job and doesn’t make mental errors and does what the coach says.

    It’s obvious that our guys would rather have a nice coach who let’s them do what they want. Like Rob Ryan who places no blame and tells them they’re great when they get bowled over by 3rd string runnning backs.

  • ldynblk26

    I keep hearing press conference !! When? I still back The kid !! Kiffin!! Kiffin!! Kiffin!! Al sit back and take a chill pill!

  • http://ibabuzz.com antispy3

    Perkaps Madden will provide his services as a mediator in all this chaos. Not sure if he still has Allen Davis’s ear. However, he has been considered a “loyal” footsoldier.

    Stranger things have happened. . .

    Rod Serling

  • La Milicia Negra

    ATLRaider…

    What!!!

    Bruce gave us old overpaid players, we was constantly just under the cap. Bruce gave blackout after blackout.

    Trask, got in the face of the Alameda so she could control ticket sales, and suddenly no blackouts.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    NO the city of oakland and that psl gave you blackout after blackout. Bruce allen was exec of the year the year before we went to superbowl and during his prominence we went to teh superbowl. Yeah I will take him

  • ATLRaider

    The one thing Trask has done well was taking over control of ticket sales.

    Say what you want about Bruce Allen, but compare the winning percentage for the Raiders when he was here compared to Trask.

  • Blackholepriest

    Amy and Bruce do very different jobs they don’t overlap at all. Bruce is a personnel guy, Amy is in the legal dept. they have nothing to do with each other. The Raiders kept Lombardi over Bruce Allen.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    moving the team out of Oakland couldn’t have helped either as far as blackouts. Davis simply lost some fans

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Thank you BHP for saving me the time.

  • Blackholepriest

    my pleasure

  • La Milicia Negra

    Amy trask has nothing to do with the sport side of things, she handles the business. that thing bruce allen didn’t understand, and thats why he was almost fired in tampa this year.

    Bruce Allen had the opportunity to get the power of ticket sales, but didn’t. AMY DID!

    Look in one of my preious posts i say we need one more like her… that one should take care of personel and personel salary

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Some say Trask was instrumental in getting Gruden and Allen out.

  • La Milicia Negra

    BHP exactly

  • Hobs Gnarly

    How much of the sell outs are Trask? Does the Raiders and the TV station buy up tickets to remove the blackouts?

  • La Milicia Negra

    Hobs gnarley…

    well then she did a good job… Look how much she gained in that deal then. picks and money. Those picks wasn’t use wisely, but that wasn’t her doing

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Bruce could not do anything until the psl’s and the thing that sold the tickets (can’t remember it’s name) expired. That did so this past year and now you see sellouts, with a little help

  • Hobs Gnarly

    I’m confused to what your saying LMN

  • NorthernRaider

    Excellent corporate analogy,CopenhagenFan. A smart CEO hires good staff, lets them do their jobs, and insists on honest feedback, whether positive or negative. I read a fascinating article awhile ago about how yes-men and ruthless ladder-climbers are undermining so many companies today.
    Another, scarier, analogy can be found in Hitler’s command of the Wermacht throughout WWII. By purging any of his Generals who dared to contradict his often flawed strategies, he turned a highly efficient command structure into a confused mess (Thank God for that, eh?). The book, “Hitler And His Generals” (The actual transcripts of strategy meetings from 1942 to ’45) offers a fascinating insider’s view of a madman being undone by his own paranoia and thirst for power. Sound familiar?
    P.S. – Thanks for your reply,FireKiffin.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Lombardi was a weasel if you believe shell and Allen did the better job

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Neither of them are there anymore and I would still take either one of them instead of Davis doing it.

  • La Milicia Negra

    I cant believe Raider fans turn their back on Amy Trask, what she’s done for us is fantastic. what you see on telly on sundays has nothing to do with her, her job is keeping the business going through off season. Raider image, facilities etc

  • Blackholepriest

    Bruce Allen had a lot to do with getting Bruce Allen out. It was a power struggle between he and Lombardi and Lombardi won. Bruce was a good salary cap negotiater and Lombardi was more of a personnel guy and Bruce wanted both. Bruce hired and fired a people and had somewhat of an undefined role and wanted the GM role pushed for it and lost.

    Amy has a lot of power in that org. so she probably had a firm hand in the final decision.

  • La Milicia Negra

    NorthernRaider….

    totally agree…

    regarding the CEO part, i said that some month ago, when we had a conversation about our management.

    regarding, Hitler, somebody here said on the past days that Al Davis loves chaos, and that he think his folks works harder that way… I immediately thought about hitler and his generals. Nobody knew who the favorite were, and everybody worked for him to get on his goood site

  • K-Rock

    Is the Lofton interview finished? When will Saunders be there?

  • Hobs Gnarly

    I am a nurse. One day a older lady with alzheimers comes into the ER. We need a Urine sample on her and her daughter exhausted doesn’t want to go into the bathroom and help her so I go. This lady did every nutty thing you can think of before I finally got her to sit on the pot. I mean she is standing on the toilet with her top off. Finally I say okay now pee for me. She looks at me very seriously and clearly says but I don’t have to. Sometimes things get confusing and you do every crazy sh*t in the book that has people saying wtf and then sometimes you understand clearly what’s happend but don’t have the capacity to do it. My little metaphor for you to figure out.

  • Explain it to me

    God …you guys are literally “OWNED” by the media!
    You fall for every bit of their crap. How sad.

    Explain it to me….why would a fired coach be interviewing a new offensive Coordinator?

  • http://Oakglenn Oakglenn

    to Reiterate: As my post #422 says there is NO 3PM presser scheduled!!!!!! Sheeeeesh.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    BPH,
    While Al sat back and ate popcorn watching the power struggle and reveling in it? Allen had connections, I don’t see where that can hurt a team. I am a fan of Allen

  • TouchDown Timmy Brown

    I for one am sick of this uneccessary soap opera of Al Davis. While other teams are revamping and preparing for the draft and free agency the Raiders are going through yet another coaching carousel. If Kiffin is gone I am no longer following this team. Its like being in a relationship with a woman who has all the baggage and drama to go along with it but you come back hoping for the better. I for one rather be looking at draft prospects like Adrian Peterson. Not wondering who the next head coach is. I was very upset when Gruden left but the Raiders responded by going to the Superbowl only to get blown out by Gruden so I was hoping Al would at least learn from that. Sure Kiffin was in his first year but rememeber he gave us the first division win in what was forever and the first road game win also. Plus beating Shanarat is always priceless. Why cant Al see this? So sorry Raider Nation but like Timmy Brown if Lane leaves I am cancelling my season tickets. I am not wasting my time & money on this football team just like I will not waste my time and money on a dramicidal female. Im out!!!

  • K-Rock

    I know there is no press conference. Just wondering what times these interviews were taking place. Might give a time for when to expet news.