The 2011 season is in the books, and we write the epitaph on the Raiders, Jets and Cowboys.
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Plus, we are all over a major “Black Monday” shocker and the most important coach to watch on the carousel.
It’s time for the Schein 9:
1. The monologue
Last year around this time, I endorsed Al Davis’ decision to fire Tom Cable and promote Hue Jackson as the coach of the Raiders. I have long believed that Jackson would be a fine head coach in the NFL. Well, something startling has happened within the past 365 days.
Jackson has become a power hungry, irresponsible head coach and football czar who has set the Oakland Raiders back for a few years. Jackson’s ego ruined the 2011 season for Oakland. For the betterment of the Raiders, Jackson must be stopped.
When Al Davis passed away this year, Jackson suddenly and surprisingly gained full autonomy in the Raiders organization. He could trade, hire, fire and genuinely do whatever he wanted. That’s a hell of a gain in power for someone who was never even been a head coach before. And Jackson, trying to simply win this year and make himself entrenched in the organization and not keeping an eye on the future, made a horrible deal with the Bengals that we bashed in this space as a first guess.
You don’t deal a first-round draft pick and a second-round draft pick for a retired quarterback. Carson Palmer, predictably, at best gave the Raiders a mixed bag at the quarterback position. His rust, and his unfamiliarity with his teammates and coaches, hampered him. Jackson foolishly and arrogantly called this the “greatest deal in NFL history.” Jason Campbell was hurt. So he overreacted. It was head-scratching from the beginning.
Some players turned a deaf ear to Jackson, who on Saturday nights before games, according to sources, would talk to his team about cutting players next year. It drew a collective eye roll.
The undisciplined Raiders set a new record for penalties in a season, a reflection of the coach. The Week 16 collection against the Chiefs, even in a win, was particularly embarrassing.
Jackson, as we first guessed, foolishly played Rolando McClain against Miami the week after he was arrested and accused of holding someone at gunpoint. It showed desperation. The Raiders got drubbed by Miami, as this was a major distraction.
Jackson was blinded by his own ego. Oh by the way, when the wheel stopped spinning, Oakland needed that win against Miami to aid its resume over Denver for making the playoffs. Denver beat Miami. The Broncos went 6-6 against common opponents. The Raiders went 5-7.
Oakland imploded in Week 15 and blew a double-digit lead to the Lions at home.
And what happened on the field on Sunday was awful. Against a “dead man walking” Chargers team that was already eliminated, Oakland didn’t even bother to show up.
What happened after the game showed Jackson’s power trip spiraling out of control. He made this season all about him. At the end, when the Raiders failed to make the playoffs in a season in which they seemed, at times, to be destined to finally break their playoff drought, Jackson passed the buck. Jackson took no responsibility for anything that happened on Sunday or in my previous examples during the season.
Take a look at what Jackson told the media postgame.
"I’m pissed at my team," he said. "At some point in time, as a group of men, you go in the game and you can say whatever you want about coaches, you win the game. Here’s your time. Here’s your time to make some plays.
“We didn’t get them stopped, and we didn’t make enough plays. Yeah, I’m pissed at the team. Like I tell them, I always put it on me, but I am pissed at my team because when you have those kind of opportunities, you’ve got to do it. And we didn’t do it."
Then Jackson added this: "I know one thing: This team needs an attitude adjustment. The killer instinct has got to exist here. It’s something I’ve talked about. When you don’t finish games at the end, like we haven’t, this has been going on all year. I mean, this feeling I’ve had has been there all year, and you try to change it, change it, change it and I haven’t been able to get it changed. I know what needs to happen, and we’ll move forward."
I think the coach needs an attitude adjustment, and fast. This is totally unacceptable.
I cringed watching it live. I cringed for Raider Nation, a fan base that deserves so much more. These are totally unacceptable comments. If Al Davis were alive, he would have called Jackson into his office. That’s not the Raider way.
“I’m pissed at my team.” Hue, really? You should be pissed at how you handled your first year coaching the Raiders. You are majorly responsible for the Raiders not making the playoffs.
Hopefully, Mark Davis and Amy Trask can hire a legit football man to be the general manager, who won’t treat draft picks like bubble gum. And, hopefully, they pick someone who can help Jackson get a clue. The fans deserve it. The players deserve better.
2. Black Monday surprise
There is always one gigantic shocker on “Black Monday,” and you could have knocked me over with a feather when the news broke that Colts owner Jim Irsay fired vice chairman (and future Hall of Famer) Bill Polian and general manager Chris Polian. Look, the Colts were a disaster this year. And Polian deserves blame. He got duped by Peyton Manning on the quarterback’s health. The Colts weren’t prepared with a legit backup. Polian’s drafts in recent years were underwhelming, ranging from Tony Ugoh to the immortal Jerry Hughes.
But Bill Polian is an elite executive. Look at his body of work. The Colts got the No. 1 overall pick and were set to draft Andrew Luck as the next Peyton Manning. Fire the overmatched Jim Caldwell, not Polian. This was a bad move by the Colts. And some team is going to scoop up one of the best in the business.
If I’m Indy, I would call the Cardinals No. 2 man Steve Keim for the general manager position.
3. Black Monday
No surprise that the overmatched Raheem Morris lost his coaching gig in Tampa Bay. Although I like Morris a lot personally, he lost his team months ago. The Buccaneers are going to have to go the coordinator route for their next head coach, someone with a plan on how to maximize Josh Freeman.
And it was no surprise that the Rams whacked coach Steve Spagnuolo and GM Billy Devaney on Monday. Spags is an excellent defensive coordinator who will get picked up by the Eagles or someone else thinking he takes them to the next step.
4. The Jeff Fisher watch
This fascinates me more than anything. I think Fisher is one of the best coaches in the NFL. If he goes to St. Louis, Miami or San Diego, he will turn them around instantly. I don’t see Fisher taking on the Dolphins job with owner Stephen Ross.
5. Jets mess
The Jets went 8-8, missed the playoffs and are a total mess. Santonio Holmes, the team captain, inexplicably quit on his team when it mattered the most and then ripped his quarterback and offensive coordinator postgame. His act was pathetic and disgraceful.
Quarterback Mark Sanchez was horrible against the Dolphins, a fitting ending to a season where he regressed. And coach Rex Ryan’s guarantee of the Super Bowl seems beyond hollow and foolish. He’s the boy who cried Super Bowl. On Monday, Bart Scott refused to talk to the media and flipped the bird to a camera man. So Mr. “Can’t Wait” who this year “Couldn’t Tackle” suddenly “Can’t Talk?”
It sounds about right for a Jets team that let way to many leaders leave the building. This team has a long way to go.
And don’t worry about Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum telling the media on Monday that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will stay. They want him to get a head coaching job. As we wrote last week, the Jets are changing their offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. They have to in order to have a chance to save the suddenly floundering Sanchez.
6. No D in Big D
Rex’s team is done, and so is Rob Ryan’s Dallas Cowboys. It was a sheer myth listening to media types spin that Ryan turned this defense around. “Elite” Eli Manning and Victor Cruz made them look silly on Sunday. This is not one of these Week 17 games where you blame Tony Romo. You blame cornerback Terence Newman and the Cowboys’ defense. You rip the Dallas offensive line. And you wonder aloud when Jerry Jones will ever get a clue and fire himself as the team’s general manager.
7. My guys
• Victor Cruz: The Giants receiver has another gear and is supremely clutch.
• Tom Coughlin: Left for dead by some, Coughlin has his Giants in the playoffs with an excellent chance to beat the Falcons.
• Marvin Lewis: I thought the Bengals were going to be the worst team in the NFL. They are in the playoffs. Awesome ride for the young, 9-7 Bengals.
• Matt Flynn: I think it is fair to say Flynn earned himself some money this weekend with a Packers record for touchdowns and yards in a game. He’s a perfect fit for the Browns, Redskins or Seahawks.
• Larry Fitzgerald: This guy willed his Cardinals to victory.
8. My goats
• Stevie Johnson: Another celebration? This clown doesn’t get it.
• Mike Martz: I was thrilled to see Bears head coach Lovie Smith rightfully refuse to give him a vote of confidence. He needed to be an ex-Bears assistant, and that’s what he became Tuesday when he resigned.
• Leslie Frazier: It wasn’t all his fault, but Frazier’s first full year as the coach of the Vikings was a rough one.
• Rex Ryan: At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indy last February, he guaranteed the Super Bowl and challenged the rest of the league to beat the Patriots. Well, the Jets went 8-8. He needs to be more concerned about beating the Dolphins. On Monday, Rex admitted he didn’t have the pulse of his team. Perhaps that starts when you name Santonio Holmes a team captain.
• Jason Garrett: The Cowboys coach hardly distinguished himself in his first full year as a head coach.
9. Three nuggets of wisdom
• Congrats to the Broncos and John Fox on making the playoffs. But the shine has worn off on quarterback Tim Tebow, who frankly has looked inept the past three weeks. I think Pittsburgh is going to bludgeon the Broncos.
• I totally disagreed with Gary Kubiak’s strategy to sit cornerback Johnathan Joseph and running back Arian Foster on Sunday. I think the Texans needed a win and needed to get their mojo back heading into the playoffs.
• Although everyone craves an NFC game featuring the Packers and Saints, I think the Niners enter the playoffs as the most balanced team in the tournament.