Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Next Raiders Coach

The silver and black lining is that the future is now. Speculation blooms anew. Just when you were getting terminally bored with defenders blowing through our line and crushing our quarterback, just when you would rather wash your eyes out with battery acid than watch another Janikowski kick go wide left, just when you started having nightmares of Brooks Bollinger being elected to the Hall of Fame, a new obsession puts down roots. I’m talking, of course, about the 2006 season. Thus, I present the Next Raiders Coach sweepstakes. There’s not enough room, time or insider knowledge here for me to audition every coordinator-in-waiting. I will stick with some potentially available name brands, along with the good and the bad of conventional wisdom, and let you fill in the blanks in the comments section. Let the speculation begin:

Mike Martz – Good: brilliant tactician, keeper of the “greatest show on turf” flame. Bad: crackpot professor with a penchant for bizarre game-losing decisions.

Brian Billick - Good: proven on both offense and defense (although not simultaneously), cocky in a good way. Bad: Overrated, a failure on offense and defense, cocky in a bad way.

Steve Mariucci – Good: an upbeat motivator, a proven winner with the 49ers, it’s easier to turn water into wine than Matt Millen’s Lions into winners. Bad: A classic 49er down to the haircut, a rah-rah guy better suited for the college game, already failed to turn one team around

Jeff Fisher – Good: a fiery leader, he led the Titans to the Super Bowl. Bad: that was then, this is now.

Dom Capers – Good: he took an expansion team to unanticipated heights. Bad: he took an expansion team to unanticipated lows.

Dan Reeves – Good: old school, tried and true, respectable and respected. Bad: Broncos, Falcons, Zocor and heir apparent to Dom Capers in Texas.

Jim Fassel – Good: the perfect guy to lead the Kerry Collins revival; Bad: Kerry Collins won’t be here to revive.

Mike Ditka – Just kidding…

And the winner is…Pat Hill, head coach of the Fresno State Bulldogs? The dude has a compelling track record in Fresno, which includes nearly toppling the USC Trojans this year. Hill’s coaching career spans 30 years. He has NFL coaching experience. Here’s how Fresno State’s athletic director describes Hill: "He's not a UCLA kind of guy. He's a good fit here. He's a blue-collar guy. He can be gruff and he speaks his mind.'' In other words, he’s a Raider, not a 49er. If it’s true that the Raiders head coaching job is considered radioactive by proven NFL coaches with multiple suitors (which is still hard for me to believe...but Denny Green did choose Arizona over Oakland), then Pat Hill might be a worthy unproven commodity. Of course, there may be better jewels to be mined in the ranks of NFL coordinators, and Pat Hill does have his detractors, but I believe that this Bulldog from the Central Valley merits consideration.

14 Comments:

Blogger Doobie said...

I think to understand where the next head coach is coming from, we need to get inside the mind of Al Davis. In order to protect ourselves from the demons that lurk within, we're only going to take a slight dip into that murky soup. Let's recap who's been coach since 1969.

John Madden - company guy, won one Super Bowl
Tom Flores - company guy, won two Super Bowls
Mike Shanahan - brilliant offensive mind with lots of potential. Style conflicted with Davis', out the door in less than two years. Succeded elsewhere
Art Shell - company guy, no Super Bowls, but had fairly successful teams
Mike White - lickspittle, out the door in two years (my knowledge of why White was hired to begin with is spotty, if anyone can chime in, I'd appreciate it)
Joe Bugel - lickspittle, offensive line coach and head coach experience with Cardinals got him nowhere here.
Gruden - see Shanahan, but with longer tenure.
Callahan - company guy (more specifically, Gruden's company), ran ship into ground beginning with 1st quarter of 2002 Super Bowl.
Turner - lickspittle, but had head coaching experience and also won Super Bowls as O-Coordinator with Cowboys.

So here's the trend: Offensive minded, internal company lickspittles.

Using that as a guideline, I think we've narrowed down to Fassel, Martz, Billick or Mooch. However, I don't think any are perfect candidates. Mooch is west coast offense, which Al isn't a fan of. Billick is too egotistical and his offense hasn't shown in Baltimore, One odd note too...he's a lightning rod for bad calls that are upheld by even worse reinforcement by instant replay (which is why he's against it)...consdiering how many bad calls have gone against the Raiders in their history we don't need a "bad luck" candidate in here. Fassel's offense has also sputtered in Baltimore as well, although he does appear to be better lickspittle material.

I still think Martz is the best candidate of the bunch for Al. He's got the offense Al likes and he's got a ring to show for it. The ego may be a sticking point however.

As for the company guy aspect, something deep within me tells me that Freddie Biletnikoff is also in the running for this.

4:42 AM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

Well, this take has me dodging arrows via email. The best was from Mike, whose email was titled "Coach Hill - Good Joke." Among other things, he stated: "Be a little more critical in your judgment, or provide the reader with overwhelming rationale why it makes sense."

That's a fair take, here is my response:

Thanks for your feedback. If you're going to give me hell, I also welcome you to do it in the blog's comments section, for all to see...I don't mind a public ass chewing, as long as it's logical and reasonable, and yours meets that standard.

Now, I understand that that Pat Hill might be a stretch. At the same time, I am not the first to talk of Hill as potential NFL material. That doesn't make me smart, it just means I'm not alone.

I just Googled it and found one example (and no, I did not see this before writing my post): http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/5151456

Here's my rationale:

1. I did not say that Pat Hill should be the next Raiders coach. I said that he merits consideration, and I stand by that. It's the job of Al Davis (and maybe Mike Lombardi) to hire someone, not me (obviously). I also said that there may be better jewels to be mined in the ranks of NFL coordinators. I wish I had all day to analyze the possibilities, but I don't.

2. We keep hearing that the Raiders head coaching job is radioactive, that proven NFL coaches with multiple suitors won't go near it, and that Mr. Davis won't hire anyone who is already an NFL big shot. If you look at our last five coaches, it's hard to argue with that...It's not like Jon Gruden was a proven hot commodity upon hiring. This suggests that the Raiders may once again be selecting from what could be considered the second tier of available coaches. In that context, a Pat Hill becomes more relevant.

3. Feel free to call me out and trash my takes. No one is forcing me to write a public blog instead of a diary. That said, please understand something about Raider Take...I make no pretension about being an "expert" or even being terribly smart. I love the Oakland Raiders and the Raider Nation, and I see Raider Take as more of a uniquely flavored tool for dialogue and appreciation than a pedestal for my own brilliant analysis. That doesn't mean I'm backing away from my Pat Hill take, it just means that I'm not trying to outwit anyone or prove anything.

8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good points doobie and RT. I think Al will stick with what he's always done; company man or someone new enough to head coaching that it's assured they'll play by his rules.

This is unfortunate, because except for strong personalities like Gruden and Shanahan, none of the other guys have panned out (aside from Flores or Madden, but Madden was a born leader as was Flores).

I think it's interesting that no one's mentioned Rich Gannon. It's a bit soon for him to be a head coach but he has the fire and passion for the game and the Raiders Al would want. It would be a shame to see him fail and get canned though.

Honestly, I think it's time for Al to significantly alter how he selects and hires coaches. It's time to throw some serious money and lure a Jimmy Johnson out of retirement. I think the NFL changed the rules after the Gruden to Tampa trade, but if not I'd think dumping half of Oakland's '06 draft to another team for one of the top head coaches out there would be worth it.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pat Hill would be a reasonable choice. Both Al Davis and John Madden hail from the ranks of small colleges.

However, as long as the Raiders still have their current receiving corps, where offense should be a lot easier than defense, I think Billick will get the job. Billick has already been known to be on Al's short list.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

On a completely separate note, it just came across the wires that Darrell Russell died in a car accident this morning. Whoa.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous LK said...

I'm OK with Hill; he seems to have some Gruden/Weis in him. It's becoming clear a college coach may be the choice. My opinion, there are three keys to a successful coach--leadership, game planning [the ability to give your team a decided schematic advantage vs. the opponent the minute they step on the field] and game management [knowing how to use timeouts, play calling, when to go for it,etc]. I come up with 9 current coaches that grade out well in these areas - sadly none are available:
Belichick, Vermeil [barely], Lewis, Dungy, Fisher, Parcells, Gruden, Mora, Jr., Fox [former Raider].

Saban/Crennel/Lovie--too early to tell
Marty S/Reid/Gibbs--horrible game mgmt [see Chargers highlights tape; SB XXXIX, any Skins game]
Cowher--CWTBO [can't win the big one]
Holmgren--watch 2005 playoffs
Shanahan--general principles
They rest of the [count 'em] 14 coaches are in some other way inept. The point: 2/3 of coaches fail; alot of other teams in the same boat. There will be alot of competition in the off-season. Chop Norv's head off now--what, Tui can't get a home start?

1:13 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

I imagine Collins got his job back because Al Davis, wise in the ways of the dark side, displayed his disapproval to Norv in the same fashion Darth Vader displayed his disapproval to Admiral Ozzel in Empire Strikes Back.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, you forgot Butch Davis. He's pretty desperate for a job, & he has a name Al loves. I think he even interviewed for the Raiders job a couple of times in the past.

5:29 PM  
Blogger alzadoman said...

Here is a longshot, Bobby Petrino from Louisville. Young, fiery offensive genius with NFL experience as an offensive coordinator for Jaguars. Watch Louisville offense and you will see why Big Al would like him.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Doobie said...

Re: some of the college choices being bandied about, I'm not sold on Al Davis hiring an unproven college coach to lead this team. It's not his style. Of the raw people he's hired in the past, they've at least had some NFL experience as assistants. Therefore Petrino might very well be an option...especially with his offensive background...but Pat Hill might be too green for Al to take a flyer on.

As for Butch Davis, I certainly have no qualms, but the problem with him is that he's known as a disciplinarian and we all know how well discipline goes with this team. Gruden almost had it, but once Al was able wrest control back, chaos reigned once again and the team suffered.

So if Butch is hired, Al will have to step back (HAHAHAHAHAHA!) and let him enforce discipline as opposed to letting his veterans circumvent the chain of command...which is what usually happens.

12:50 AM  
Blogger NFL Adam said...

it has to be martz. it must be martz. no other choice than martz.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

For those of you who aren't familiar with NFL Adam, the above comment is more of a hex than a recommendation.

9:25 PM  
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