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.


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.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • mricuu


  • http://. Coach on Wheels

    Thanks K-Rock. I’m no longer concerned about the coaching situation. If we sunk a #1 pick and 30mil + into a QB who is upset about getting too much playing time to learn like the reporter is implying – we’re screwed.

  • mricuu


  • http://none rich_gannons_love_child

    i love how all of this is starting to turn on kiffin….priceless.

    kiffin will be villified, and yet again, al davis will not be held accountable for his dismal managment style and or “skills”.

    nothing is EVER al’s fault. EVER. between league/media conspiracies and vendictive players and coaches al davis is the unluckiest man on the planet. give me a break. i’m not a conspiracy theorist, but rather a behavioral theorist. there is no conspiracy against the raiders only behavioral changes brought on by al odd, rouge behavior.

    al loyalists always bitch how the league’s out to get him. the refs are out to get us. the media’s out to get us. al brings this all on himself by his intimidating, meglomaniac behavior. he picks fights and then crys foul when someone fights back.

    this crap may have worked in the 70s or 80s. not now.

    ps…to all of you who rip on kiffin and can’t get enough of big al, keep in mind WHO hired kiffin. any shot at kiffin is a shot at the godfather.

  • ATLRaider

    Bottom Line… The Raiders will continue the Tailspin as long as Al Davis & Amy Trask are running things.

    Nobody in their right mind would want to work for those Two Losers! Davis & Trask are responsible for this mess.

  • Blackholepriest

    I’ve just been taking it all in from a distance. I’ve been waiting for something from the org. not the media. But I knew it wouldn’t happen until after the senior bowl.

    Now we’ll see what the org. has to say Kiffin had phylosophical differences and that was probably the only real issue other than maybe Kiffin will hire an OC.

    Let’s see what happens.

  • Florida Pete

    i don’t have a problem saying Mr. Davis made a mistake hiring Kiffen… none at all…

    the kid took this job as nothing more than a big billboard onto which he could post his resume…

    smart move on the kid’s part…

    i’m sure Mr. Davis learned something too…

  • RaiderNationPA

    Is this press conference at 3 for real or just something someone made up?

  • La Milicia Negra


    I think Jerry only prints things he feels he can put his name under

  • K-Rock

    Love Child…

    Remember this as well…

    Spurier, Petrino, Saban, and Holtz. All college coaches that were supposed to be the future of the NFL. All were shown to be incapable of handling the job. Kiffin would not be the first. Norm Chow was also fired from the Titans. Haven’t heard a lot of people screaming for him either.

    I am holding off judgment until all the evidence comes out.

  • Chargers Hater

    Allen Davis must answer that…

  • NorthernRaider

    BadMoodGuy…Why do you think Gruden was “going to leave anyway”? Could it have had something to do with a meddlesome owner who constantly inserted himself into personnel decisions, to the detriment of the team? Was it a matter of being underpaid? Either one of those scenarios points the finger of blame right at AD. I’d love to hear any alternate theories regarding Gruden’s desire to leave the Raiders. Head coaches don’t generally want to leave a team that’s close to winning it all.
    As for you, FireKiffin…I have been a die-hard Raiders fan since I first saw an NFL game on TV, over 35 years ago. This continuous bs is even more frustrating to us longtime fans because we actually lived through the glory days of the ’70s and ’80s. Thus we suffer immense pain witnessing the laughing stock this franchise has become. We are the truest fans because this crap cuts us the deepest. Having played tackle, then played and ran elite touch-football teams for over 20 years, I understand this game and what it takes to win. Everything runs from the top of the organization down. Good owners hire competent staff and let them do their job sans interference. Chemistry plays a large part in being successful, and constant undermining of coaches destroys that chemistry, not to mention meddling in draft proceedings by insisting on the selection of track athletes and physical specimens who either have no football instincts or are total flakes.
    As the late Jim Morrison said…”WAKE UP!”

  • Blackholepriest

    Very smart on your part K-Rock. All this we should’ve gotten this guy and that guy. Well mpost of those guy’s have been fired. So it Let’s you know that this is a very tough business and winning SB’s is extremely difficult. Everything must go pretty much right and still you might not get the ring.

    So this is going to take smart moves and hopefully those smart mves pay off. But there are no gaurantees.

  • K-Rock

    I still think Al Davis is crazy though! 😀

  • http://none rich_gannons_love_child

    big al’s got another lesson on the horizon: NO ONE WILL WORK FOR OR WITH HIM.

    the validity of this does not matter only the perception of it. until al realizes that he’s WAY past his prime, we as fans, not to mention players, will have to put up with the al saunders, joe bugels of the world. there is a reason those guys are not head coaches. the perception of al through the media, extraordinary or not, eliminates a lot of great people (player AND coaches) from even considering joining the raiders (ie–see sean payton, ken whisenhunt) because of al, we have to tolerate someone nieve enough to take the gig, not someone necessarily qualified to be an NFL coach…ie, lane kiffin.

  • Fender52

    I am having some serious trouble imagining what if anything Kiffin could have done to justify Al D. wanting to get him to quit or firing him and risking (no, ensuring) further disruption to the team’s players and progress.

    Does any one remember what the coaching search has been like the past several years since Callahan was canned? The only guys who were willing to interview were either undesireable over the hill retreads, or worse, promising guys who simply used the interview with Al D to get a raise and a better deal where they were. Remember what it was like hearing about all those guys pull their names out of consideration? Remember, we ended up with Norv and Shell.

    Sure Kiffin was a risk. But in my opinion he justified the decision. But even if you’re glad Kiffin might be on the way out, let’s not fool ourselves to think that the guys we’re going to be considering are top drawer choices. Lofton and Saunders just got canned from winning programs. And Denny Green is the answer? If he’s being considered, that just shows you how nutty the decision makers are.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    I wonder if Al has learned anything from this? It’s obvious the majority of fans were against him on this, overwhelmingly so. He needs a GM, desperately.

  • drray

    I doubt his ego would take this, but making kiffin the OC, and getting someone else to be HC makes a great deal of sense to me, Kiffin instead of being professional, was simply too much like AL: stubborn and committed to the players he wants- regardless- we need an objective HC who filln authority over time, not starts arguing with the establishment right away, and NOT inuic by hinting they might leave- any of us with real reponsibility and a dedicated team know that the last thing you need is someone hinting they might bail any time

  • http://none rich_gannons_love_child

    hobs gnarley—

    there’s a better shot of al being caught in a broncos jumpsuit than him hiring a GM.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Those guys didn’t work out because it’s all about team chemistry!

  • http://FixtheboldJerry Terrapin

    If players are “calling” AD (as if he was standing bya phone just taking every player’s phone call) to fire Kiffin (I HIGHLY doubt it) then those players need to be let go cause they are showing that they’re not winners imo. purge them.

    BHP – No brotha. I’m not being too harsh on the defense. If I left out the O, it was just a product of responding to someone else’s post crucifying the offense and leaving out the defense. Just balance here. However, I did point out that both the run defense and the qb play killed this team last year. Look up both JM and DCs stats and they threw as many INTs as TDs. Thats unacceptable. They were playing like rookies. Oline play was incosistent too which did help matters but thats to be expected given their state.

    Regardless, the design of the Offense in 2007 was part of a intermittent plan: Run the ball, control the clock, keep TOs low, and rely on the Defense – which was suppose to be our backbone – the hammer if you will. Thats why the O was so conservative. Kiffin hit 2 of his 3 points but the defense for the most part failed for most of the season. The QB and the Defense killed 2007. In 2008 the Offense will be more dynamic. Its part of the plan.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    I thought we had an OC, Knapp

  • Blackholepriest

    Rich Gannon if you think that Big Al can’t get a quality HC for this team you’re as mistaken as the media. Sure there are certain coaches that don’t want the job but He has head coaches on the staff. There so many capable coaches that he could go another lifetime getting coaches. Listen that is one of the stupidest things that gets repeated over and over again.

    There’s just too many qualified coaches to even make that claim. I gaurantee you Cam Cameron probably wishes he took this job instead of letting Marty talk him out of it.

  • http://. Coach on Wheels

    K I looked up that link and Jones doesn’t say that radio stuff about JR and all. He just does the Ryan is well liked bit which is hardly news that Jerry hasn’t said. All Jnes is doing is speculating ala Adam S and Nancy Gay. No quotes, no sources – speculation.

    As for the anti- Kiffin crowd questioning credentials – You are the same geniuses who thought Chow was the real deal – Chow who just got fired as OC?
    You think a fired WR coach like Lofton is any more qualified? Remember the Dolts have developed ZERO WR’s under Lofton.
    Saunders is a twice fired OC with fewer credentials than Norv Turner.
    Madden and Flores had no credentials.

    As for the Howie Long, Gannon, Tatum coaching nonesense – ARE YOU RETARDED?
    2006 Raiders (2-14) Art Shell, Freddy B, Jackie Slater, Irv Entman, W Brown, on the staff.

    Fact: in 2007
    Kiffin given control of two areas Offense and Special Teams – both areas saw dramatic improvement.
    Al Davis dictated one area – Defense – stayed pathetic or got worse despite better field position ad time of possession.
    Kiffin 2
    Al 0

  • http://FixtheboldJerry Terrapin

    K-Rock ..please stop with all this Kiffin misinformation. Its slanderous.

  • K-Rock

    Hey Terrapin…

    What else would old Al be doing besides sitting by the phone?

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Does it not disturb you that Al was petty enough to lock Kiff out of meetings and such as was reported trying to get him to quit? Please don’t say that didn’t happend. The first line was there was nothing going on, then Kiff obviously leaked his story and now the Raiders are on mop up duty to contain the backlash by trying to say the players don’t like him. Of course some players don’t like him and those are the ones he is targeting, the ones that would not be on any other team in the NFL except the Raiders. Truly, you think Al would have learned with Bugel and Callighan and Shell (though I myself still love Shell the player and man)

  • K-Rock

    Coach and Terrapin…

    He was heard on the radio saying some of these things. Jason Jones was ON THE RADIO in Sacramento.

    Some of the stuff in the article, some from the radio through another board.

    I am just putting stuff out there that is being said elsewhere.

  • Blackholepriest

    Terrapin, point taken. Kiffin has to own up to that record. And he threw Ryan under the bus. That wasn’t right. But he is IMO going to be an outstanding HC and I think Big Al shares that opinion contrary to popular beliefs, I just think he’s trying to convince Kiffin that he’s trying to help him by hiring experienced OC to take the weight off him.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    NO BHP we just can’t get the ones we fans want, capable ones with proven results. Yeah any unproven will jump at the chance, even to work for Davis because that puts them on the map, no shortage of ambition there. That is a silly point to make.

  • K-Rock

    Slanderous? LOL! Are you serious?


  • http://none rich_gannons_love_child


    i totally believe that al won’t be able to nap a great coach. that is unless your idea of a great coach is a puppet or a talking head.

    al likes coaches that know their place, that don’t make waves, with no backbone. that’s not a great coach, that’s a pet. when you have a coach like that, that’s when you get players who play by their own rules, not the coaches.

    i know you like and respect al davis, i did to at one point, too. i always respect what you have to say, but i’m gonna have to disagree with you on this one. al doesn’t know when to say when.

  • RaiderDogg

    BHP –

    Welcome back and thank you for providing a voice of reason and rationality. Everybody and his brother is calling for Al’s head on a stick all based on what the media says. It’s called reserving judgement until the TRUTH comes out, not some media speculation to sell papers. I’m not saying that some of this can’t be true, who knows really, except the people involved? What I am saying is that everyone is so quick to make up their mind based on pure speculation. How many decisions do people make in life based on pure speculation? Personally I get all of the FACTS straight before I make a rational decision.

    What really kills me is that when the Raiders start to show signs of life again, the very same people saying that they will no longer be a fan or support the Raiders will be back talking about how they never left.

    We’ll still be here when they get back to remind them of their past trangressions. That’s the beauty of the archive, it’s all there for reference to show those that contradict or lie about previous posts will be dealt with accordingly.

    Raiders for Life…I’m In!

  • K-Rock

    For the record…

    As long as the Raiders are getting better and winning, then I don’t care who the coach is. If Kiffin stays, fine with me. If Al hires my grandmother and the Raiders go 13-3 and win the Bowl, then that will be great too.

    I just want to see the Raiders win. PERIOD.

  • CopenhagenFan

    It seems like there is some Al Davis spin in the air….suddenly Raider players are calling around saying they don’t want Kiffin??! It sounds like damage control spin to me.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Incredible throwing Ryan under the bus? Everyone knows the D we had two years ago was inflated because all anyone had to do was sit on the ball, the offense was that bad, so any stats on the D two years ago were misleading. What has Ryan done other than capture the hearts of certain people?
    You are just spouting the company line man, a yes man?

  • http://. Coach on Wheels

    Terrapin – Dead On

    “Just give us 17 points” the D told Kiffin. He took them at their word and did that 9 times. Instead of being 9-7 the D only secured 3 wins. Let’s face it the D lost the Cleveland game – a special teams block bailed them out.
    The pathetic D blew 5, 6 fourth quarter leads?

    Playing a safe, vanilla offense the Raiders should have been 8-8 minimum based on 4th quarter leads, points scored etc…

    The one area we “stood pat” in the off season because of Al’s meddling cost us 4 games easy.

  • drray

    whoever coaches the raiders- as HC, i hope we do keep the rest of the staff kiffin brought in- he did a bunch of really good things- motivating Al through pressure in the media may actually help kiffin in the long term- as someone mentioned earlier- his stock has shot up tremendously- this raiders gig really is a posting board for his resume- unfortunately it seems Al is aware of this- I think Al is thinking if Kiffin is going to leave in two years anyway- might as well let him leave now ….

  • Blackholepriest

    Rich that’s your opinion and Ralph Barbieri’s I don’t share that opinion. He wants a coach that gets results ………..period. He has very little respect for those that don’t no matter how much of his ass they kiss it’s on record. Ask Joe Bugel.

    If you win you can pretty much call your own shot.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    K-rock don’t worry about slander. The party in question would have to prove you were malicious in manner. Plus, the laws are different in public figures. One can always say that it’s their opinion and not fact.

  • K-Rock

    I also do not know if Jason Jones has integrity or not. I don’t know if any of these guys are telling the truth or not and unlike others, I DON’T PRESUME TO KNOW.

    I am just passing along info that I find interesting for others to see. Kind of like food for thought.

    If you don’t like what is being said, then take it up with Jason Jones at the Sac Bee.

  • NorthernRaider

    How can anyone honestly say Lane Kiffin doesn’t know how to coach in the NFL? Have you already forgotten the mind-boggling fiasco of 2006? Leaving the upstairs nonsense aside, Kiffin came to a team loaded with subpar players and malcontents, and fielded a squad that actually looked professional. The running game improved astronomically, despite the lack of a topnotch QB, no speed at WR, and a couple of weak links on the o-line. How much more could he improve this team now that he’s had a year to evaluate the players, enabling him to further weed out the deadwood? The regression of the defense can be blamed on a few weak spots ie: DT, FS, and lack of a stout MLB. The scheme was too vanilla as well.
    As frustrating as their logic is, I must admit the “Al can do no wrong” crowd have provided a bit of illumination. I now see how GWB can get elected for two terms and charlatans like the late “Reverend” Falwell can rake in millions. Some folks just don’t get it and likely never will. Interesting and scary at the same time…

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  • RaiderNationPA

    I agree with your last statement BHP, but how can a coach be expected to turn 5 losing seasons around in less than a year. Especially with the talent (or lack there of) in Oakland.

  • RaiderDogg

    Right on K-Rock on posts 385 & 392! Is your grandmother available for an interview? Be carfeul though someone might think its true and then “Chris Mortensen of BSPN is reporting that K-Rock’s grandmother has been summoned to Oakland to interview for an undisclosed job within the Raiders organization” and it will be taken for the gospel of truth!

    Raiders for Life…I’m In!

  • RaiderNationPA

    NorthernRaider, everyone has different opinions.

  • MaineRaida

    is this 3PM press conference today for real? I can’t find any mention of it anywhere. Anyone?

    If it is in fact set to go, it could go all manner of ways…who knows. We can only wait for the real story.

  • http://. Coach on Wheels

    BHP I agree that the more you win, the more Al gives you power. West Coast Gruden is proof. BUT on the flip side it is hard to win with talentless “Al” guys like Whitted, Jordan?, and lazy guys like Moss. It is also hard to win when Al forces an overrated DC and Defense in general on you and they cost you a .500 season.

    It’s a Catch-22. Win to get the power you need to win.
    Meddle less, win more. Dan Snyder is learning it, why can’t Al?

  • http://none rich_gannons_love_child

    the way i see it, kiffin could have easily finished 7-9, 8-8 with virtually the same team that finished 2-14. as you stated earlier, BHP, al’s sets unrealistic goals. i think kiffin did an admirable job this year. he made more than a few rookie mistakes, but you have to expect that.

    it was al/ryan’s defense that was the difference between 4-12 and 8-8.

  • drray

    maybe kiffin should have been an OC first for a few years, figured out what players were like, and owners- completely different than atheletic directors- he was thrown into a tough situation- but he decided to do it- is getting paid for it- in the end his boss is the boss. AL is at where people worked for one company for 20 years, union jobs still existed, and your neighbors left their doors open with lemonade on the table- kiffin is Play Station, posting resumes on Monster, text messaging make the best deal…..but kiffin showed some Al like traits as well- young brash USC guy- stubborn… I hope these guys do work it out … i think if Kiffin had just a few more years he would have the wisdome and patience to have been able tomake the needed changes without pissing off the boss— in the end however- he did piss him off- and hes going to have to be the one to make up…