NFL

Good news for Raiders, bad for us

Adam Schein says firing of Hue Jackson was the right move.
Adam Schein says firing of Hue Jackson was the right move.
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Billy Witz

Billy Witz has contributed to The New York Times and covered a multitude of sporting events. A Tulane University grad, Witz has won Associated Press Sports Editor awards for investigative reporting, feature writing and game stories. He covered the Lakers' every move last season for FOX Sports West.

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As it turns out, Hue Jackson, in his end-of-the-season diatribe, could see what was coming for the Oakland Raiders.

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“There ain’t no way that I’m going to feel like I do a year from now. I promise you that. No question,” Jackson said after the Raiders were beaten at home by San Diego on Jan. 1, depriving them of their first playoff berth since 2002. “I ain’t feeling this way no more. This is a joke. ... I’m going to take a hand in everything that goes on around here.”

Well, Jackson isn’t going to be feeling like this a year from now. But he won’t be having a hand in anything either.

When putsch came to shove, Jackson was out Tuesday.

The head coach was fired by new general manager Reggie McKenzie, a former Raiders linebacker, who was hired on Friday, did his “research” over the weekend, asked owner Mark Davis for permission to fire Jackson and did so Tuesday morning.

For the Raiders, and their fans, this is probably good news. For everyone else it’s a dark day, indeed.

If McKenzie makes the Raiders an adept, functional and (gasp!) winning organization, well, what fun is that?

The Raiders have to be the most fascinating organization in sports. (Wishful thinking, but we’ll hold off on using past tenses just yet.) Where else has such bluster, pomposity and rhetoric married to incompetence?

Take the Cardinals, for example. They visited a Super Bowl recently, but otherwise for 40 years they’ve been beset by bad management, bad coaching, bad players and bad teams. And does anybody really care?

But the earnestness with which Commitment to Excellence and Just Win, Baby are parroted has been as comical as many of the Raiders’ performances have been — and not even on the field. All the Raiders have to show for their strong-arming of cities is that they’re stuck in a dump of a stadium.

There was Al Davis, with his projector, ranting about former head coach Lane Kiffin. There was the JaMarcus Russell debacle, then head coach Tom Cable punching out an assistant (and keeping his job), Randy Moss brooding his way to New England. ...

The Raiders were the gift that kept on giving.

And that’s what made Jackson such a godsend. It was as if he walked right out of central casting: Hubris Jackson, Bad Ass/Head Coach.

He sometimes showed up at postgame press conference in black suits, immediately talked about making the Raiders the bully on the block, and declared the trade for Carson Palmer to be the greatest in NFL history.

He was the Rex Ryan of the West Coast.

When the Chiefs, on their way to a 28-0 win over the Raiders in Week 7, were still throwing the ball in the final two minutes, Jackson wagged a finger at Chiefs coach Todd Haley when they met at midfield and said: “That’s OK. We’ll play them again.”

Of course, now, both are gone. You can argue that Jackson warranted another year — especially when you see Norv Turner getting a do-over. Jackson got the Raiders to 8-8 despite the midseason adjustments that were required to replace his quarterback (Palmer for Jason Campbell) and most dynamic playmaker, running back Darren McFadden who was leading the league in rushing before injuring his foot and missing the final nine games.

But the Raiders, though they played hard and sometimes well, often looked like a team that wasn’t coached. The Raiders, out-Raidering themselves, set NFL records for penalties and penalty yardage. As NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock pointed out: the newly arrived Palmer — not the coaches — worked with the receivers at practice on getting off the line.

After Tim Tebow rushed for 117 yards against a defense that looked like it had never before seen a read option, Jackson said: “When we start the week, we talk about potentially what can happen, what type of play it is, and that was the No. 1 football play for them. Trust me.”

POLL

  • With Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders are ...
    • ... about to turn things around
    • ... the same old Raiders

Well, trust me. What is just as disconcerting was Jackson’s panicky decision-making: he dealt a first-round pick, and possibly another to Cincinnati for Palmer and then, incredibly, stuck him into a game after three days of practice in which he had taken 10 percent of the reps.

Living for today might as well have been the Raiders’ mantra over the last decade, when bad decisions in the draft, free agency, trades and coaching hires seemed to be governed by Al Davis’ need to win right now, while he was still alive.

The Raiders’ plan was that they had none.

Now, if McKenzie is to be believed, it will be different. He wants to hire his own guy — presumably Packers assistant head coach Winston Moss, like McKenzie a former Raiders linebacker — and begin building an organization. That should mean not only hiring competent coaches and scouts, but ridding the organization of its cronies and serial butt-kissers.

As Jackson told Bay Area Comcast: “He basically wants to gut the place.”

It’s long overdue — and good for the Raiders, and their fans. It just wasn’t very good news for Jackson — and the rest of us.

Tagged: Broncos, Raiders, Carson Palmer, Tim Tebow

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