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Taking the offensive

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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

  • Ok Terrapin, Syder is an extreme example but sadly, Al is closer to the Snyder model than the Kraft model.

  • Vicky

    John Madden on KCBS radio this morning said that he can;t believe the rumor that Al Davis sent the letter and all that. He thinks that they will address the situation soon and though there might be some issues because of a losing season, he doesn’t think Al will do what the media has reported. He also thinks Kiffin will be back as HC. So we gotta wait for the press conf

  • Argh!

    I misspelled “Shirley MacLaine (among other words). Betrayed by my sources once again! The trolls!

    antispy3

  • Dr Ray brings up a good point. If this job is just a stepping stone for Kiffin, and it most likely is, he should be gone now.
    There’s no 3pm presser scheduled. Sheeesh.

  • Thats a damn good point referencing Petrino, Cameron vs Kiffin. Cam was definitely given sht for a team and thats exactly what he delivered. Petrino had more talent on the Falcons squad but failed big time. Kiffin made a massive overhaul, cut players (who were once starting but are now out of football – that should tell you about the talent level they had) and delivered a respectable product. Could’ve been a lot better (maybe .500) if we had a better QB and run defense.

  • what’s this talk of a press conference i keep hearing?? is this actually happening?? when?

  • Fender52

    It’s curious that the local print/internet media have been pretty quiet this morning. You’d think Jerry would start a new post if for no other reason that we didn’t have over 400 comments tied to this latest article.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Oak

    There is no such thing as loyalty in the NFL anymore. It’s a business and unless you are an icon the grass is always greener somewhere else.

  • Northern Raider – Apology accepted.

  • BadMoodGuy

    This morning on the Sirius NFL channel, Adam Schefter repeated that he believe the Raiders staff will be intact this year (ie both Kiffin and Ryan there). They all pretty much agreed that the coach should be able to pick his own DC and that the Raiders were a dysfunctional organization. No argument from me on that one.

  • CopenhagenFan

    Northern Raider….it has never been a good franchise. It has been a winning franchise that has had a bunch of disfunctional people with incredible talent in an age when only talent counted.

    The problem now is that great athletes are popping up everywhere because of great workout ethic, performance enhancing drugs, good nutrition etc. What the Raiders have not comprehended is that to win in the NFL now, you have to be smart, play as a very well disciplined unit with tactical superiority and on the cutting edge as far as new developements (including scouting) to win.

    With so many great athletes improving themselves constantly and knowing that this is now a REAL business with millions of dollars to win, it just doesn’t cut it to have 4.2 speed and be huge, or have intangibles like the great Raider teams of the past. Mystique doesn’t cut it. A team has to be run like a Fortune 500 company like the Patriots.

    Al doesn’t run it like a Fortune 500 company, he’s a micro manager that knows a shitload about old school football, but is not a genius as a businessman. Just look at the net worth of the Raiders in comparison to other teams. Al Davis was a true football visionary and an innovator, but now it’s a different game.

    You can’t be a micro manager and be sucessful in a giant corporation. You have to delegate authority. Al needs an MBA.

  • M

    The press conference cannot come soon enough. Just been reading throught the past few hours of comments. The internal politics of the Raider organization are unbeknownst to me. I do not assume that each participant in the goings-on in Alameda is competely right or totally wrong. As I posted yesterday I would be interested in how the franchise quarterback feels about the situation. Regardless of COW’s assumption per an unsubstantiated “Russell pissed off for having to play against the Jags”, I think it most important for the young man to be comfortable with whoever is guiding his offense and development.

  • Tomlin was given a Championship contender – they did real good – but may have underachieved in the end.

    Wisenhunt was given a damn good squad and they didn’t go anywhere.

    Kiffin looks to be the best outta this bunch. imho.

  • M

    Thanks Vicky, it is always good to hear what John Madden might have to offer.

  • Mad Road Dog

    Reply to MaddenRaider post #204…loyalty is a simple concept, Kiffen should have been grateful enough to AD that he work within the system. Prove yourself first and AD would eventually give him more control, hopefully the kind of control as head coach that Kiffen wanted. Kiffen knew when he fired Rob Ryan without running it by AD that AD would not like it. I wanted Kiffen to succeed because I am a Raider fan and we need stability in the organization. But AD is AD, nothing has changed from the early Raider days except his poor evaluation talent over the last several years. It looks like Kiffen as HC is another poor decision by AD.

  • When Parcells took over in 1983, the New York Giants were a team that had posted just one winning season in the previous ten years. In his first year, he made a controversial decision to bench Phil Simms in favor of Scott Brunner. The result was a disastrous 3-12-1 season during which the Giants seriously considered bringing in University of Miami head coach Howard Schnellenberger to replace Parcells[3].

    – Source wikipedia

    In 2000, New England went 6-11. Their first and last losing season under (the unabomber).

    – wikipedia (modified slightly)

    Kiffin is doing just fine. Give him time. This team stank BAD.

  • La Milicia Negra

    Vicky….

    thats what i’ve been saying all the time, but the more reports that came, the lesser hope i had.

    Some days ago, I said the best scenraio would be. though I didn’t quite self believed it, but hoped that Kiffin would stay, Saunders as OC, Knapp as QBcoach because Jammy is the most precious commodity on our roster, so let a OC and former qb coach take care of jammy thats okay. Let Lofton be the WR coach.

    Then our Caoching Corp would have tons of merit

  • Hobs Gnarly

    Cope

    Interesting enough you make several good points, however Al has set himself up pretty good. He has no overhead, only rent on the stadium. He was cruicial in negogiating the bargining argeement (same one that Bowlen in Denver is complaining about) that shares revenue with smaller market teams. He just got an infusion of money by selling part of the team and he is approx 25 million under cap. I would say his business skills are good. He is just past his prime on what todays NFL which you sited spot on, in my opinion.

  • Blackholepriest

    What’s different about todays game?

  • K-Rock

    Wow!

    I post a report of Jason Jones on the Radio and get accused of slander, Vicky reports a Madden radio interview and get’s a lot of thanks from people.

    I am hurt. 🙁

  • M

    Nice post LMN

  • CopenhagenFan

    Mad Road Dog

    Why should Kiffin just do what he’s told and not exert his own will to create his own destiny??

    If he just did what he was told he’d just lose and get fired anyway? Better to create your own destiny and get the ax than appease Al and get whacked anyway.

  • K-Rock

    Just kidding! 😀

  • Fender52

    Many of the folks on this site are falling into the same trap of the writers and stating as “facts” rumors they’ve heard.

    For example, it’s been suggested that Kiffin “fired” Ryan. Maybe Kiffin wanted Ryan fired, but that’s a completely different dynamic. And we don’t know (at all) who it was that “leaked” the fact that Ryan was going to be shown the door. Could have been Ryan for all we know, or some self important employee.

    I’m pretty confident that regardless of how much power Kiffin might have had, Ryan’s contract would have been with Al D, so Kiffin would never have that sort of direct power. I’ll wager a round of drinks to anyone who can “prove” Kiffin fired Ryan. Didn’t happen.

  • M

    K-Rock, I did not accuse you of anything, as a matter of fact I enjoyed reading that which you reported upon. A new set of perspectives to be digested. So, thank you and my apologies for not saying so without prompting

  • Adam S is a friggin’ joke when it comes to the Raiders. He started the Under Armor nonesense. He goes on everyday about Kiffin being out. He started the Arkansas rumor. Now he backpedals and basically says all the crud he’s been slinging isn’t true and everything will stay the same. BS!

    Everybody on hear who holds Kiff, Al, Ryan etc accountable should e-mail NFLN and call for some accountability on Adam Schleprock.

    Those of you who moced my rant about the rumor media and me keeping score – Adam S isracking up points big time.

    To quote francis aka Psycho from the movie Stripes – “You just made the list.”

  • BigDaddy WooWoo

    Been a Raider fan for 30+ years.

    I’ve put up with a lot of bs over the years.

    But if Al Davis sees fit to fire the only decent coach the team has had since Gruden, then I’m ready to wash my hands of the Raiders.

    ie, I’m OUT.

  • helmut o’hare

    I’ve been a Raider fan since I can remember – remember the glory years of being an East Bay sports fan in the 70’s? The A’s winning 3 Championships in a row, the Raiders seemingly always winning the West and in the playoffs every year, the sweet victory in SB XI, even the Warriors win a championship! As a young boy witnessing this, my team allegiances were cast in stone and I’ve followed these teams all of my life. But there’s something seriously wrong with your ability to reason if you don’t believe that Al Davis is the cause of the embarrassing nature of being a current Raider fan.

    Its like this – AD is like the WWII veteran who absolutely deserves recognition, loyalty, and respect for what he’s done in the past to build the organization and leading it to become the most dominant sports franchise in sports history for it’s first 25 years of existence. Every Raider fan should give this man his due, and rightly so. But is this the guy that you want leading today? Stuck in the era of P51’s and battleships, when the world is now full of laser guided bombs and cruise missiles? The world is a different place. I can only feel pity for the guy – unfortunately I’m convinced that this team has no hope of returning to its prior glory until Al is gone. I’ll always be a Raider fan, but the pain is real, and impossible to ignore.

    The only constant in the death spiral that this team has been in is Al Davis. It’s his team and he needs to be held accountable for the disgrace this organization has become. There’s no other way to see this – even for a diehard Raider fan.

  • Hobs Gnarly

    the fact that the team is ranked in the bottom in terms of value is a moot point, Al never plans to sell.

  • K-Rock
    It’s not slander, if it’s in print it’s libel.

    – Spiderman’s boss

  • Chargers Hater

    One thing I am sure of…
    One day we will see the Raiders champions again and become one of the elite francises in the NFL…
    And Al Davis won’t be with us to celebrate that!

  • No Chargerhater – but his ghost will try to take credit for it.

  • K-Rock

    Coach…

    That was J. Jonah Jameson.

    Thanks for the clarification. 🙂

  • Dakota

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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