For years I've strictly defended Al Davis. I still defend the basic fact he's the only owner with any actual knowledge of player development and watching film on college players. To this day Al still is quite knowledgeable, but unfortunately he's become what I've hated to admit, he's at the point he needs to let go and let someone else run the organization with some input from the Boss.
His decision can no longer be final. As the owner he should still get a couple of late round picks in the draft, but someone needs to be hired to be GM and focus on player development and be great in the draft. This is where Al will always have some form of input.
With regards to what kind of offense the team runs or defense that's on the field, Al needs to step back and let his GM handle everything. Again, he's going to talk with any GM, but a GM Al hires must have the knowledge to prove to Al he's able to draft and make key player and coach acquisitions.
The idea of the man scheme on defense with little to no blitzing is obviously outdated and needs to change. Drafting a rock solid DT with the number one pick should be mandatory. Drafting a RT and RG should also be mandatory with one of the first 4 picks.
I believe Tom Cable was a fair choice for Head Coach and believed his previous OC experience at UCLA gave him ample experience to handle the position, however he's drastically over-matched with both duties.
John Marshall is a great hire, but he can only go as far as Al allows him to go. The game against the Philadelphia was a great look at the Raiders playing defense with today's defense rather than something that excelled twenty years ago.
JaMarcus Russell can still become a stud QB on this team provided he continues to study and practice. IF he does this then he can become the QB Al envisioned. The tools are there. If he's in shape and studying he's going to make the throws necessary and understand the defense.
Four things need to happen in order for the Raiders to become viable again:
1. Al Davis needs to hire a GM
2. The GM needs to hire a head coach and allow the head coach and the two decide on the coaching staff.
3. The GM needs to focus on the trenches in the draft and another WR.
4. The GM needs to bring in some depth on the O line and bring in some veterans who'll continue to teach the young players.
Until these things happen the Raiders are never going to become anything. Other than GM, the focus on the trenches is going to become extremely important. The RG, RT, and DT positions need some depth and starting positions.
Things need to change, but until they do I'll continue to root for my Raiders. It can be tough at times, but my colors run deep.