If you were on a deserted island for the last two years and returned just now, you'd read the following:
Arizona Cardinals Play in the Super Bowl
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Compete in the World Series
Oakland Raiders Return to League's Elite
Okay, I made up the last one, but based on those first two, is it really so far-fetched?
If Al gets a real GM, a solid coach, and modernizes his philosophy, it's not that outrageous. Oakland has solid young talents at the running back and quarterback spots, and a good free agent or drafted wideout will change that offense.
A new coordinator can revitalize the defense because the talent is there. Just misplaced.
Right now there are three major steps between the Raiders and a return to prominence:
1) Hiring a General Manager
Al needs to find another guy like the "old" Bruce Allen. (Yes, Allen's available, but that's not my point.)
When Allen was with the Raiders, he provided balance between the coach and ownership, a fresh perspective that we haven't had in years.
(The "new" Bruce Allen started drinking his own Kool-Aid and presided over Gruden bringing in a ton of ex-Raiders and 17 quarterbacks in a three-year span. None of them panned out.)
If the Raiders had someone who could help provide an additional perspective on talent, they could have avoided spending so much on has-beens this past summer, and could have addressed more specific needs in free agency.
Al has said he will bring in a GM, it's now just a question of who and when.
2) Finding a Tone-Setting Head Coach
Which type of head coach will Al choose?
A head coach with an offensive slant, leaving the defense to struggle, a defensive stud dependent on an offensive coordinator to drive the other side of the ball, or a head coach who sets the tone for the team and counts on both coordinators?
I believe the third option is the best choice. Tom Cable set the tone for the team over the last few weeks and brought back some of that Raider swagger.
If Oakland can find that tone-setting head coach and surround him with good coordinators, they can turn it around quickly. Most successful teams find head coaches who can be best defined as leaders.
Bill Belichick has proven that it's his singular leadership that drives the Pats, not the X's and O's of a Crennel or Weis.
Mike Tomlin and Ken Whisenhunt both have history as experts on one side of the ball, but appear to focus more on leading their teams as a whole.
I'm not going to make recommendations here, but the Raiders need a leader more than an offensive or defensive guru as their next head coach.
3) Bringing Back the Swagger
Where has it gone?
The Raiders have talented players in a flawed system. In the recent past, petty battles within the organization have been distractions for the team. And the losing has tainted some of that classic Raider luster.
They need that swagger back. Part of it comes from winning and being professional.
The Raiders have too many guys celebrating a tackle when they're down by three scores. They need the type of players that can take a team's best punch and be determined to return it with interest.
Teams need to know that when they play the Raiders, they're going to take some hits. And that there's a good chance they'll lose.
If Al Davis addresses the first two items, the third will soon follow. With strong and consistent leadership, the Raiders can be rebuilt. The players have to walk on the field and remember that they are the Oakland %#*!#@(% Raiders!
And for those who need a reminder: The autumn wind is a Raider. Pillaging just for fun. He'll knock you 'round and upside down, and laugh when he's conquered and won.