Well, in a week that has the 49ers squaring up with the Mr. Unstoppable, Drew Brees, at Candlestick Park, the big talk in the Bay Area Tuesday lied around the Oakland Raiders. After just one season as head coach, Hugh Jackson was ousted after his squad finished the season terribly.
It came as a surprise to me, I'll tell you that much. I mean, I heard the rumblings over the weekend, but you normally hear some level of that with every team that just misses the playoffs and probably should have made it. This shakes up the whole Raiders organization because Jackson had full control and last say on player movement. He was the one that, probably, signed off on the Carson Palmer deal and then once his team lost 4 of their last 5 ballgames, and their stronghold on the AFC West. But what I think really sealed his fate was after the season when he threw his players, mainly star linebacker Rolando McClain, under the bus and blamed missing the playoffs solely on the players. Now, I've coached, granted at Senior Little League level, but one thing you never, ever do as a coach, is place blame on players publicly. If you have a problem with a player, it's between you and them, you don't make it a public issue, and Jackson had no problem doing just that. Couple that with the fact that the team just hired, Reggie Mckenzie and the two probably did not hit it off, as Jackson wanted more say in personnel issues and McKenzie was probably less than impressed with Jackson's performance as a coach and leader over the last month or more. All that said, I think Jackson did a pretty good job until that end of season meltdown. I wouldn't have done the Carson Palmer deal, would have held out for Orton at like 1/16 of the price, but that's water under the bridge now. I do think Jackson will find another home as an NFL head coach at some point, but this was the right move for the Raiders.
Whichever coach is brought in will immediately enter a tough situation, as the Raiders are set to enter 2012 with 2 QB's expecting to start in Carson Palmer and Jason Campbell. My guess is they deal Campbell and try and get some draft picks back. There is a major lack of QB options this winter, outside of RG3, Andrew Luck, Kyle Orton and Matt Flynn (who I'm still not really sold on), there aren't any starting caliber QB's who will be free this summer. I could see Miami definitely having some interest in Campbell, as well as Washington. I think whatever team doesn't get Griffin or Luck should go after Campbell before trying to sign Matt Flynn. That's just my personal opinion. Campbell had the Raiders on a clear road to the playoffs and he went down and this team was never the same. At the same time, after an offseason and preseason working with Raider receivers, I'd expect a much better Carson Palmer in 2012 Raider fans, and as long as Run DMC is healthy and those receivers stay on the field, this team will be a playoff squad. As for coaches, I'm haven't a clue yet who they're thinking of, but with Al Davis passed on, it may make coaching the Raiders a little more desirable. When Davis was alive, bless him, he had complete control of everything, rumors spread that he'd even call down plays to head coaches on occasion.
Still the Raiders aren't going to get an established head coach like a Bill Cowher or Jeff Fischer. Heck, they probably couldn't even get Steve Marriuci out of retirement and he loves the Bay Area. Unless they want to go with a guy desperate for a HC job like Mike Martz or Denny Green, they need a bright eyed, rattle the troops, college-type coach if you ask me (Chip Kelly anyone?). They need a Pete Carroll-type would be ideal for the Raiders, though he's locked up with the Seahawks, but maybe try and pluck a premium college coach up. Jim Mora Jr. would have been another young, fiery head coach perfect for this job but he just signed on with UCLA They need someone who's well known enough to the players to command their respect, at the same time, they need someone with energy and who will fire that team up rather than sit back and point fingers.