Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Days of Our Lives in the NFL, plus Baseball Playoff Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on October 1, 2008

I realize I am stating the obvious that the Oakland Raiders have been the NFL’s official soap opera for at least the last five years.  Is it possible to feel sympathy for a loathed division rival?  Is it possible the Raiders have become so bad and so embarrassing that it’s impossible to hate them anymore?  It’s certainly not possible to feel that way for Al Davis, who clearly doesn’t have the faintest clue how to run a team anymore.  As long he’s in charge, the Raiders will never again be even remotely good.  The almost comical part is how Davis deflects blame onto everyone but himself, and always has. 

Yesterday Davis dismissed Lane Kiffin, who it is very easy to feel sorry for after reading this letter Al Davis sent to him before their week two game in Kansas City.  Everyone knows Al Davis is an owner who is intimately involved in EVERY personnel decision, so it seems very hypocritical of him to pin the botched signings of Javon Walker and D’Angelo Hall on Kiffin, when everyone knows Davis pulled the trigger on the signings.  Especially in the case of Walker, it was obvious that was destined to fail.  He didn’t come to camp in shape, his personal life is a mess, and he’s coming off a second knee surgery in three years.  Yet, they guaranteed him $16 million.  How is that Kiffin’s fault?  That’s strictly on the owner.  It is equally comical that Davis is critical of Kiffin for not wanting to draft JaMarcus Russell, who has been anything but spectacular in his limited action this year and last.  (Anyone else think Davis misfired by not taking Adrian Peterson last year instead?  Yes, they got a good back in Darren McFadden this year, but that wouldn’t have been needed had they taken Peterson).  The point is, Al Davis has always made the final call on personnel decisions in Oakland, so it is very difficult to believe Davis that he has nothing to do with the organization being in the dumps. 

Why anyone would want to coach the Raiders is absolutely beyond me.  Kiffin is now the fourth coach fired by Davis since 2003.  That’s four coaches in four seasons (plus four games).  Um, anyone else think there is a pattern here that something is really wrong there besides the head coach?  The Raiders have no coaching stability since Jon Gruden left for Tampa before the 2002 season (is it coincidence his Buccaneers torched the Raiders in the Super Bowl the next year?).  Bill Callahan lasted two seasons, with the Raiders going absolutely in the tank in 2003 after the Super Bowl loss.  Norv Turner coached for two seasons before getting fired in 2005 after an awful 9-23 stretch over two seasons.  Then Art Shell lasted one year, finished a woeful 2-14, before Kiffin finished 4-12 last year and got fired after a 1-3 start this year.  The fact is Al Davis doesn’t allow his coaches to coach, despite what his letter to Kiffin may indicate.  There is a clear pattern here that his pressence is the problem in the Raiders organization. 

Now, this is not to say that game day coaching hasn’t been a factor in the Raiders’ slow start this year.  They blew a big fourth quarter lead in a loss at Buffalo, and then had a 15-0 lead against San Diego late in the first half before this sequence.  The resulting poor clock management resulted in a 76 YARD FIELD GOAL ATTEMPT.  Obviously, that’s insane that such a thing would even be attempted for several reasons, but that’s not really the point.  The point is the Raiders had a chance to extend their lead and didn’t, and ended up blowing a fourth quarter lead to the Chargers.  That being said, the pressure as head coach of the Raiders, and more specifically working for Davis, has to be stressful beyond belief.  The fact that something as crazy as a 76 yard field goal was even attempted is a reflection of the soap opera nature of the Raiders organization, and not specifically on Kiffin’s head coaching ability. 

There is some irony here, considering Davis fired Mike Shanahan as head coach four games into the 1989 season.  It is interesting to note that Shanahan lasted exactly as long as Raiders coach as Lane Kiffin: 16 games.  Davis is trying to say he fired Kiffin for cause so he doesn’t have to pay him, which is not surprising considering Davis still owes Mike Shanahan $250,000 that he has not paid to this day.  Shanahan has made Davis pay by routinely beating the Raiders during his tenure as coach of the Broncos, yet Davis has still not seemed to learn his lesson.  I am reasonably convinced that Kiffin will latch on somewhere in the league, probably not as a head coach right away, but he will get another opportunity to prove himself in the league.  It is quite clear that Kiffin being fired is not in any way a reflection of his head coaching ability.  The coach of the Raiders is essentially a yes man to Al Davis, who in spite of what he says, no doubt has his hand in the till in regards to key organization decisions, possibly right down to game plans.  As I say, why anyone would want to coach the Raiders is absolutely beyond me.  Anyone who takes that job is automatically destined to fail because Davis is running a joke of an organization.

As a side note, the Rams are not near as much of a soap opera as the Raiders, but their coaching change does not lack drama.  Scott Linehan angrily yanked Marc Bulger from the starting quarterback slot and gave it to Trent Green before the Buffalo game last week.  The Rams played hard, and actually had a lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Bills ended up pulling away.  Players said later they were upset with the Bulger benching, and it seemed like no one was on the same page.  Now, Jim Haslett has been installed as the interim head coach after Linehan was dismissed.  This despite Haslett being in charge of a defense that has surrendered 30 points every game so far this season.  Haslett has already re-instated Bulger as the starting QB, so it will be interesting to see if the drama continues in St. Louis.  Will either of these coaching changes make a difference?  Maybe, maybe not, but I am sure that Kiffin and Linehan will not be the last coaches to be fired this season. 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

In spite of the fact that my Colorado Rockies reverted to their form prior to last year and flamed out well before September, I offer my picks for the baseball playoffs that begin today:

ALDS: Angels over Red Sox in five: The Angels were the best team in baseball during the regular season, and had everything clinched several weeks before the end of the season.  The Red Sox are not healthy. 

Rays over White Sox in four: Chicago has momentum, but they will have a letdown at Tropicana Field.  Tampa Bay’s surprise story continues, thanks in part to Carl Crawford’s return.

NLDS: Brewers over Phillies in five: C.C. Sabathia is the difference for Milwaukee as the Brewers bats outslug Philly in a high scoring series.

Cubs over Dodgers in four: The Dodgers benefited from the Manny Ramirez trade, but the Cubs have the pitching and the emotion of Wrigley in the first two games.

ALCS: Angels over Rays in seven: The Angels are deep, have a solid lineup, a terrific rotation, and a shut down bullpen.  Their experience is the difference against the young Rays.

NLCS: Cubs over Brewers in six: The Cubs owned the Brewers during the regular season, and that continues in the playoffs.

World Series: Cubs over Angels in seven: This would be one the best World Series matchups in a number of years.  The Cubs get it done because a 100 year drought seems long enough, and why not end it on a nice round number?

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