Greg Knapp was the offensive coordinator for two tumultuous seasons in Oakland from 2007 to 2008 and the Raider Nation let out a collective groan when Dennis Allen re-hired him to coordinate the offense in 2012. Too many fans in Oakland remember that he was stripped of his play-calling duties in 2008 by then interim head coach Tom Cable (via Yahoo Sports).
Now, just two games into the 2012 season, Knapp is preaching patience (via the Raiders' official website) to a fanbase that hasn’t made the playoffs in over a decade via a bizarre media session with reporters. Knapp starts out with an opening statement and proceeds to say his comments were intended for his friends.
What I hear are excuses from a frustrated offensive coordinator that's trying to convince himself that he's doing the right thing.
Knapp’s excuses for his offense's poor start include tough competition, injuries and a young offensive line that needs time to learn his scheme. I wonder how Knapp would feel if his players started making similar excuses about their poor performances.
"That was a good team we faced last week." -Knapp on the Miami Dolphins.
"We’re a little bit younger right now on the O-line than I have been at other places, so it takes a little bit longer for them to learn the nuances." -Knapp on the offensive line's struggles executing the zone-blocking scheme.
"Unfortunately for us, [Wisniewski] got hurt, so he missed a lot of reps with our first group. That slowed down the learning curve and set us back a little bit." -Knapp on how injuries have set the offense back.
Perhaps Knapp doesn’t realize he is working with better personnel than Hue Jackson had when Oakland’s offense carried a bad defense to an 8-8 record and nearly made the playoffs in the final week of the season. Darren McFadden and Carson Palmer are on the field together, and yet, Oakland has scored just 27 points in two games.
If Knapp’s offense doesn’t produce more points and yards than Jackson’s, something is wrong.
The offense wasn’t broken, yet Knapp wants the fans to wait for his system to work. I’ve got news for Knapp: fans are not patient. Fans are especially not patient when they have seen these same offensive players have success.
We know Jackson’s offense worked and no one in their right mind would change the offense knowing that it would take this much time for it to be successful. It’s the NFL and it’s about scoring more points than the other team and winning games. The regular season is no time to accept failure because things take time to develop.
The offense should have been ready to go and the fact that they are struggling is a reflection on the offensive coordinator. That's tough, but that is the NFL.
Knapp talks a lot about the success of Arian Foster and the running game in Houston—as if he was the brains behind it—even though he was nothing more than a quarterbacks coach there. Who cares about the running game when the team isn’t putting up enough points to win games? No one.
In reality, Knapp has averaged less than seven wins per season as an offensive coordinator.
Knapp received the benefit of the doubt when he was re-hired, despite evidence that suggests he’s not a good offensive coordinator. There is a large sample of previous work for which to judge Knapp; this is his 10th year as an offensive coordinator.
It’s just not wise to preach patience for an offensive scheme that many believe don’t fit the quarterback, running back or wide receivers. Knapp is running an offense that has a bunch of poor schematic fits and he doesn’t even realize it.
If Knapp knew it would be a tough transition, why not transition slowly from the old schemes to the new ones? You could argue a good offensive coordinator should tailor his scheme to his personnel and then slowly transition to different schemes over time.
Knapp changed everything at once, which is basically like ripping off a bandage and the offense is bleeding out. Knapp is relying on Reggie McKenzie to find the right personnel for his scheme to stop the bleeding, but that could take years; by then, the new regime in Oakland might be dead or dying.
Knapp’s schemes will develop to some extent and Oakland’s offense should improve, but the fans will continue to be impatient and probably disappointed with the results.
One thing is certain: if Knapp’s offense doesn’t start scoring some points and soon, the chorus of fans calling for his firing will continue to grow louder. For the fans, it’s not about patience or scheme, it’s about results.