Friday, January 26, 2007

Help Wanted: Coaching Staff

Al Davis went off on the mediots after the press conference announcing the hiring of Lane Kiffin as coach (see the comments section of the previous stick for more info).

The best thing about the Kiffin hire is that it was done expediently. The last search drew out longer than a nonsensical Norv Turner soliloquy on how his team was "competitive". Art Shell was handcuffed by having to pick threw leftovers to round out his staff. Many of his picks were either old and in the way (Walsh) or first time coaches (Slater and Eatman). Blessedly, this will not be the case this time...

After the press conference, Kiffin took a jet Al had chartered to head to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. As the team with the worst record in the NFL, the opportunity for the Raiders was there to coach the Sr. Bowl squad and get a first hand evaluation of the talent. However, without a coaching staff in place, this opportunity passed them by...

It seems likely Kiffin is there to find a staff more so than to evaluate college prospects. The Senior Bowl is also an annual gathering place for coaches to meet and discuss prospective job offers.

I hope Al Davis is willing to throw the checkbook at the best coaches available this time. The entire offensive coaching staff needs to be fired pronto (with the possible exception of Freddie B., who will have a spot with the Raiders for life, even if it is in a non-coaching capacity like the one Jim Otto holds). In fact, a sure sign that Kiffen has the autonomy to do as he wills with his staff would be to see Biletnikoff relegated to a non-WR Coach position like being in charge of "squad development".

The most important hire for Kiffin is the offensive line coach. Without a solid line, it does not matter what scheme he implements or what QB the Raiders draft. All will fail. I hope the checkbook is thrown at someone like Alex Gibbs, a former Raider O-line Coach who developed Wiz with the Raiders of LA.

I know it sounds a bit sacrilegious seeing as how Gibbs gave the Doncos their cutblock schemes, but I truly believe Gallery, Grove, et al. are not power linemen suited for a man scheme. The current Raider linemen seem more suited to zone blocking than brute force. As a bonus, Al Davis could twist the knife in Shanarat by hiring Gibbs. With the coaching changes in Atlanta, Gibbs is available as a Consultant, but he is not cheap... Here is Gibbs' bio.

A Gibbs protégé, Tom Cable, is rumored to be a target as well. Cable has helped Gibbs make the Falcons into the NFL's top running team. Here is Cable's bio.

With the departure of Nick Saban, Dolphins O-line guru Hudson Houck may be a possibility. Houck coached current Raider Co-Oline coach, Jackie Slater, so the connection could be made... Houck is also a former USC player and O-line Coach, which might open the doors for him with Kiffin.

Houck made the Dallas Cowboys what they were in the '90s and I am impressed by what Houck did to resurrect the San Diego Charger O-line, basically a bunch of nobodies, into a helluva blocking machine for LaDanian Thomlinson. If anyone can take a collective group of turnstiles, weathervanes, and windmills (e.g., the current Raider linemen) and turn them into something, it's Houck. Here is Houck's bio.

My vote is for Houck.

Then next most important hire is the Offensive Coordinator. Since Kiffin will call his own plays, the real issue here is to get the Tom Walsh taste out of everyone's mouth as soon as possible.

Yet another Falcons coach, Greg Knapp, is one candidate. Knapp is a West Coast Offense disciple, so his hire would be another strong indicator that Kiffin has some juice. Of note, Knapp was in the LA Raiders training camp as a QB in '87-'90, but never made the roster, so he is familiar with the organization.

Another consideration at OC is Marc Trestman. Trestman elevated Gruden's conservative offense to perhaps the most go-for-the-throat offense the Raiders have seen since Tom Flores' days as HC. Trestman fits the bill Al Davis is looking for; as Al said at the press conference, the reason he hired Kiffin is he wants a coach who will ATTACK! Hiring Trestman would be an indicator that Al is calling the shots, as would bringing in current Charger WR Coach James Lofton as OC.

Steve Sarkisian, Kiffin's Co-Offensive Coordinator is another possibility at OC, having been joined at the hip with Kiffin at USC. Sarkisian was the Raiders' QB Coach in 2004. He has stated his interest in remaining with the Trojans, but anything is possible...

My vote is for Trestman.

The last position at the top of my list is QB Coach. Many Raider fans are clamoring for Rich Gannon to return in a coaching capacity. Word is he did work with Andrew Walter last offseason. One day Rich will return, with my blessing, but this does not seem to be that day.

Al Davis is rumored to have been interested in Patriots QB Coach/ Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, who has been involved in the development of Tom Brady, the Tucker... It seems doubtful McDaniels would leave the Patsies for anything less than a HC opportunity, but Belichick and Al Davis are friends and we know the two talk as Rob Ryan came from Belichick. Here is McDaniels' bio.

Ken Zampeze (son of Ernie) did wonders developing Carson Palmer in Cincinnati. Like Palmer, indications are the Raiders will make JaMarcus Russell a #1 overall pick. Zampeze even made Jon Kitna look like an NFL QB - a miracle in itself. Zampeze might have to be offered one of those bogus titles like "Assistant Head Coach" to make the move to Oakland, as he is under contract. As evidenced by the hiring of Lane Kiffen (son of Monte), Al Davis likes football families. Ernie Zampese was an integral part of the Chargers Air-Coryell offense and me thinks his son has soaked up some his pop's knowledge about getting QBs and WRs on the same page. Here is Zampeze's bio.

Unless Kiffin could somehow defy the laws of gravity and get former USC coach Norm Chow to come on board with the Raiders, my vote is for Zampeze.

Methinks coaches will be added to the staff early next week. Your sticks on who they will be are welcome, as always.

No comments:

Post a Comment