When Al Davis re-hired Art Shell as his head coach this season, I knew it was more of a move of desperation than anything. And, as I predicted, Shell has been out of the league too long to be effective. The Oakland Raiders 2-14 record this season proves that.
Davis’ decision to remove Shell from the head coach position is a step in the right direction for the Raiders. It shows he’s no longer dipping into the past. And, my suggestion to Davis is continue that philosophy when hiring a new coach.
First, Davis should stay away from his belief that you need an offensive minded head coach. Yes, I know that would defy a Raider’s tradition but look at the coaches he’s competing against in the AFC. Five out of the 6 teams in the AFC playoffs are led by coaches who have a background in defense. And the Ravens, the lone team with a former offensive coordinator as its head coach, are only there because of their defense.
Davis already has a potential replacement for Shell on his staff, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who fielded one of the best defenses in the league this year. However, I think he should also look outside the organization at guys like Ron Rivera (Chicago’s defensive coordinator) and Ravens Defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.
If he does insist on looking for offense, then he should consider Mike Martz. Martz has an air-it-out offense very similar to what Davis likes. And, if they can keep Randy Moss and Jerry Porter, they would put up a lot of points. However, Martz has never been good with the defensive side of the ball and that will make it harder for them to win games.
The other thing Davis should do is sit back, relax and hand off the day-to-day duties of managing the team to someone else. No coach is going to be successful when the team owner/GM is constantly interfering. He needs a personnel guy to go with his new coach and he needs to once again defy tradition and stay away from the sidelines.
If he insists on doing the day-to-day stuff (after all, it is his team) then my suggestion would be stop trying to sign the big name trouble makers. Yes, they are usually loaded with talent but, if you can get them, there’s probably a reason their previous team doesn’t want them. You used to be able to build a team that way, you can’t now. If any lesson can be learned from Randy Moss/Jerry Porter this season it is team chemistry is more important than a franchise player if you’re looking to win a championship.The Raiders are a team loaded with talent and potential. Davis needs to stop living in the past and embrace the present if he hopes to make it to another Super Bowl in his lifetime.