We’ll learn Tuesday that all is well in Raider Nation.
It will be the ninth time going on 17 seasons we’ve heard it, this time with Hue Jackson delivering playoff promises and Super Bowl dreams and Al Davis nodding in agreement.
At least this time, the good feelings will emanate from an 8-8 season, the only time other than Jon Gruden’s trade to Tampa Bay the Raiders made a switch with a record of .500 or better.
At least this time, the Raiders have a solid core of young players more than at any time in recent years.
At least time, they’re doing it with a coach who accomplished something tangible, having molded one of the NFL’s worst offenses into the sixth highest scoring team in the NFL.
Players have gone their separate ways for the offseason, and they seldom show up in numbers at coach hirings or that reason.
Hiring Jackson was the only move that made sense, and by the time the Raiders gather whenever the labor issue is solved, you can expect they’ll be solidly in his corner. The two players who returned phone messages, Zach Miller and Stanford Routt, were happy with the choice. They were sorry to see Tom Cable go, but intrigued to see Jackson operate as head coach, provided they get through whatever form free agency entails and remain Raiders.
(Shane Lechler, by the way, did not return a phone message, but I suspect he’ll get behind it as well).
Jackson’s skills as an offensive coach are solid, and his ability to recruit free agents could be infectious. Cincinnati’s Chad Ochocinco contgratulated Jackson on his Twitter account and said he was the best wide receivers coach he ever had. Perhaps his energy can reach over to the defensive side, which had days when they were terrific (usually in the AFC West) and days when they were a step behind.
We may learn nothing concrete about the staff other than both Davis and Jackson will insist it will be entirely Jackson’s call. You know, like it was Cable’s call. And every other coach before him.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Al Saunders is the likely offensive coordiantor, and the “false rumor-mongerer” has been on his game with regard to the Raiders of late. No real concrete evidence as to the defensive coordinator, but some solid educated guessing by more than a few e-mailers and Twitter followers about Baltimore defensive backs coach Chuck Pagano, a former secondary coach with the Raiders.
You could always throw the name of Winston Moss in there, considering he’s interviewed with the Raiders before, has publicly said he’d love to work for Davis and is currently an assistant with the Green Bay Packers. They’d have to wait for the Packers to lose before hiring Moss, or secondary coach Darren Perry, for that matter.
The Raiders biggest question marks, however, won’t have to do with players or coaches. It will be whether Al Davis can navigate the franchise through what could be an unprecedented period in league history with a potential lockout, the possibility of sudden, mass free agency and an offseason that may not be an offseason at all when it comes to organized team activities, minicamps, a shortened training camp and maybe even missed games.
But why worry about that now?
At 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jackson will be the coach, Davis will hopefully be sitting there right next to him, and it ought to be a hell of a show.