Oakland Raiders Becoming Hue Jackson's Team: Looks Like Al Davis Trusts Him
It has been reported that Hue Jackson came to Raider Nation to coordinate the offense under the pretext that he would become the head coach if he excelled. Excel he did as he took an offense with a porous offensive line into the top 10 as a unit from No. 31.
But being Davis' head coach doesn't necessarily mean that he completely trusts you. Recent head coach Tom Cable apparently wasn't entrusted completely with his duties.
The staff that coached under Cable was either inherited from Lane Kiffin's days or appointed by Davis. Cable even ended up breaking the jaw of Randy Hanson because Hanson was a Davis spy.
Davis appointed Ted Tollner to be the passing game coordinator during Cable's stint as the Raider's head coach. What I gather from that is, Cable had a good thing going in the beginning with his zone blocking scheme.
So Davis would have to bring in a passing game coordinator because he didn't believe Cable was able to put in a system of offense with a passing game. I'm pretty sure you can add to that the fact that top offensive coordinator's weren't lining up for the job.
It didn't just stop at the offensive side of the ball as Davis hired defensive coordinator John Marshall as well as numerous position coaches. Davis is known for meddling too much and many say he needs to step aside to let someone run the team.
But Davis has a certain philosophy and would probably only entrust his team to a head coach that has the same philosophy. Jackson is that guy so Davis just might be stepping back in his advanced years.
Turn the page to see why that could be the case.
Passing Game Coordinator Ted Tollner Out
Hue Jackson has shown that he is more than capable of running the whole offense in 2010. That gave Davis reason to believe Jackson could find the right guy to replace him as he ascends to head coach.
Therefore, Jackson informed Tollner that his services were no longer needed in Raider Nation.
What in the world is a passing game coordinator?
It seems like it means that your head coach with an offensive background doesn't know how to put together a system with passing. It also seems to mean that there wasn't a good offensive coordinator willing to come to the Raiders before Jackson.
Step one of Davis' old bridge club being taken apart is complete.
Offensive Line Coach Jim Michalczik Out
The zone blocking scheme Cable brought in worked for a very short time. Jackson brought in the power blocking scheme in 2010 and the Raiders finished No. 2 running the ball.
Now that Cable is gone, there's no real reason to keep Cable's guy as the zone scheme is no longer a mainstay. The Raiders allowed the most sacks in the NFL in 2010 so Michalczik's firing is performance based as well.
Assistant offensive line coach Chris Morgan won't be kept for 2011 either.
Linebacker Coach Mike Haluchak Out
Mike Haluchak was recently informed by Jackson's that his services were no longer needed in Raider Nation. This was as good a fire as the offensive line coach firing because the Raiders haven't stopped the run in years.
Rookie linebacker Rolando McClain is a talent that needs to be molded the right way and it doesn't appear Jackson believes Haluchak is the guy to do it. McClain did start to play pretty well as the season went along but that wasn't enough Haluchak to keep his job.
The Raiders have had some good athletes at the linebacker position over the years but the run defense still allowed too many rushing yards. Whoever gets this job next will be be under pressure to tighten the Raider linebackers up against the run.
That will go a long way toward the improvement of the Raiders.
Defensive Coordinator John Marshall Out
John Marshall is gone as the Raider's defensive coordinator and many in Raider Nation love it. I don't know either way how good of a fire this is but I do see that it is a huge fire.
It's huge because it's a Jackson fire and he has conducted all of the defensive coordinator interviews since. To me, it looks as if Al has given Jackson control of that side of the ball as well.
I also call it a huge fire because it makes me wonder if Jackson is looking to go with the 3-4 in 2011. The New York Jets refuse to allow the Raiders to talk to defensive back coach Dennis Thurman about the coordinator job.
Baltimore Raven defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is reported to have turned the job down already. Both of these coaches are in the 3-4 defensive scheme at their current jobs.
The fact that Jackson hasn't made a hire yet could mean that he's targeting someone from Packers or Steelers after the Super Bowl. Former Raider linebacker and current Packer linebacker coach, Winston Moss, is the candidate I favor the most.
He was a teammate of assistant linebacker coach Greg Biekert.
Offensive Coordinator Al Saunders In
The first order of business for Jackson was to hire offensive coordinator Al Saunders. Saunders was in Baltimore the last few years as an offensive consultant and worked with Jackson during that time.
This was a definite Jackson hire as he conducted the interview. This as a good philosophical fit as Saunders is from the Don "Air" Coryell coaching tree.
This means that the vertical offense will continue.
Raider quarterback Jason Campbell even gets a familiar face back in his NFL career.
Personnel Moves: Jared Gaither
I have always thought the Raiders should bring in Jared Gaither to protect Jason Campbell's blindside. But now, I'm putting the acquisition of Gaither as something that proves that this is Hue Jackson's team.
It makes too much sense as Jackson and Saunders ran the vertical offense in Baltimore with Gaither. Not only does Gaither know the offense, but gave quarterback Joe Flacco the extra time find receivers running those vertical routes.
This reunion of former Ravens seems like a no brainer.
Gaither is also the type of giant Davis loves.
Steve Wisniewski Comes Back Home
Steve Wisnewski is one of the best offensive lineman in Raider history. He killed it in Raider Nation from 1989 to 2001 and now he's back as an assistant offensive line coach.
Jackson said of Wisniewski's hiring, "Steve is my shinning star. His intensity, passion, and vision were right in line with what I'm looking for. I'm looking forward and excited about working with him."
Wisniewski is equally excited after a stint in Palo Alto as Stanford's strength and conditioning coach. He said, "I'm back with my first love, the Oakland Raiders. I'm thrilled to be working in the building again for the Silver and Black and helping to shape the future of the offensive line."
We don't know who will be the offensive line coach but the assistant offensive line coach is already an upgrade.
Whoever plays offensive line for the Raider will listen to this man.
Personnel Moves: LeRon McClain
LeRon McClain is very unhappy about the way he was used in Baltimore this year. McClain wants to carry the ball more instead of being a third guard.
He can be of some use to the Raiders if Michael Bush decides that he wants to start somewhere. McClain would be extreme thunder to McFadden's extreme lightning in the Raider backfield.
It would be good for the Raiders because he could help McFadden carry the load and be a back up fullback.
That gives the Raiders more room on the roster.
I would still try to keep Bush to trade him even if I like this idea.
Personnel Moves: Haloti Ngata (Wild Card)
I'm labeling this move as a wild card because it isn't too likely the Baltimore Ravens will let Haloti Ngata go. If they do let him out of town, you have to wonder why they would do such a thing.
Did the Ravens draft Terrance Cody and keep Kelly Greg knowing Ngata was going to be up soon?
I bring this up because they had a franchise left tackle in Gaither and the drafted Michael Ohr. Gaither beat Ohr out upon Ohr's arrival then the Ravens decided to move Gaither to right tackle to tender him there.
Ohr clearly showed that he isn't as good as Gaither with his play in 2010. I doubt that they make the same mistake and let Ngata go.
If so, Saunders and Jackson know what he can do.
Personnel Moves: Chad Johnson (Wild Card)
I have to list this one as a wild card too because Chad Johnson is under contract for one more year with the Bengals. What makes this one a little more likely than Ngata is the fact that he and Bengal head coach Marvin Lewis don't get along.
Lewis, before resigning with the Bengals said, "How do you even know if I want to be back here next year. Some things have to change around here for me to come back."
Do those changes include the trade or release of Johnson?
Then there's Johnson, who expressed what he thinks of Hue Jackson. He said, "Hue Jackson is the best wide receiver coach I ever had."
He also expressed his desire to play for him in Oakland as they don't have a dependable third down receiver. Chaz Shilens is dependable when he's on the field but isn't dependable to get on the field.
Hue Jackson appears to have more control since his hire than any Raider head coach in a long time. Davis knows that he and Jackson share the same philosophy and seems to trust him to build what he wants.
With a few hires yet to be made, the coaching staff looks to be better than it's been in a long time with Jackson's touch. With the coaching staff and possible free agent moves, the "bully" he's building looks more and more like a Baltimore Ravens West.
In turn, the Ravens are strikingly similar to the old, great Raider teams.
So it will be Jackson's team which is just like the old Raider teams.
That is just what Davis wants.
They just have to "win baby."