The news that the Oakland Raiders want to bring in former Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns coach / executive Mike Holmgren means one thing: the Silver and Black that Al Davis built is not only no more, it’s rudderless.
Bringing in Holmgren, the disciple of the late Bill Walsh’ short passing attack, sends a signal that the organization has no blueprint for success after Al Davis’ passing. Consider that in just a year, the Oakland Raiders have sacked a head coach, Hue Jackson, who was picked by Davis and had a plan for success, only because of a perceived large ego that would be allowed if he were white. Then brought in a new coach that’s unproven and so lacking in original ideas or powerful leadership that the Raiders were obviously forced to consider this move. And then the same Raiders general manager also fails to generate any perception of leadership, so he, Reggie McKenzie, now faces the possible scenario of being ousted by a guy he once worked for in Mike Holmgren.
All of this spells instability, and we’ll have to change that to an ALL CAPS spelling, if it comes to pass.
What the Oakland Raiders need to do is make a business plan for the future, one that embraces the best aspect of what made the organization popular and successful up to 2003, both on and off the field, and then implement that business plan, to the letter.
The Raiders had the seeds of just such an approach on offense in 2002, when Bill Callahan was the head coach and Marc Trestman, the offensive coordinator. That system led the NFL in total offense, but the organization never “bottled it” – formed a book that would be referenced in future years as the “Oakland System.” When the coaches left, it was gone.
That system had pass-pattern approaches that still aren’t regularly used today. It was the perfect mix of famed offensive coordinator Mike Martz’ and Bill Walsh’s approaches – it was able to get receivers open and gaining large chunks of yards-after-the-catch, and then hit them with a well-placed deep pass – all Raiders staples. All that’s needed is the addition of shotgun formations and a tighter blocking style, and it’s ready for the second decade of the 20th Century.
Ah, but such a “Raider way” is but a dream, and it is certainly not at all in the head of this current version of the Oakland Raiders. Al Davis must be crying large tears in Heaven; I know I am down here on Earth.
Now excuse me: The NFL Network is going to play “Al Davis: A Football Life” tonight. Obviously, they feel my pain, too.