Al Davis Assembles Experienced Staff To Improve 24-72 Six-Year Slump

A.J. DeMelloCorrespondent IMay 29, 2009

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 3:  Pro Football Hall of Famer (Class of 1992) and Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis pumps his fist as he is introduced during the 2003 NFL Hall of Fame Induction ceremony on August 3, 2003 in Canton, Ohio.  (Photo by David Maxwell/Getty Images)

Fundamentals and great preparation have come back to Oakland. Al Davis may finally have a staff that can spring his team to at least mediocrity after compiling just 24 wins over the past six years.

Let's take a look at the coaches who will be very involved in turning around the Raiders (besides Tom Cable).

Paul Hackett, Quarterbacks Coach

Ever since Hackett was hired in 2008, first impression was that JaMarcus Russell has a good quarterback teacher now who may be able to take him to that next level. Instead, Hackett worked special projects for the Raiders last season and watched Russell's progress. 

The Raiders made the smart choice this year by finally promoting Hackett to quarterbacks coach.

Hackett has worked with Joe Montana, Rich Gannon, and Chad Pennington, to name a few quarterbacks. They all have said he was very instrumental to their success.

Hackett brings tons of experience to this Raiders offense and will look to improve Russell's accuracy, timing, and preparation. Hackett is regarded as one of the best offensive coaches in the game (as well as one of the best preparation coaches).

With his knowledge and ability to improve the quarterback's play, he will be very important to the Raiders offense.

Ted Tollner, Passing Game Coordinator

Another experienced coach, Tollner will be looking to implement a downfield passing attack that will try to create mismatches when opponents stack the box to stop Tom Cable's three-headed monster (McFadden, Bush, Fargas).

Last year with the 49ers, Tollner helped quarterback Shaun Hill post an 87.5 quarterback rating (ranking 12th in the league) and assembled a 62.8 percent completion rate.

Tollner and Hackett together have invaluable experience since they have been working in the NFL for years and will be great teachers for Russell.

He will assist Cable in the passing game but will not call plays since Cable found his groove last year as a play-caller.

Jim Michalczik, Offensive Line Coach

Cable was the Raiders' offensive line coach before being hired as their head coach, spending every minute with Russell's body guards essentially.

However, now being head coach, Cable was looking for an offensive line coach that knows his scheme (ZBS) and could free him up more to the rest of the team.

The Raiders struck gold with Michalczik, who just so happened to leave Steve Sarkisian (who turned down Al Davis in 2007) in Washington to coach the Silver and Black with Cable, his friend and former coworker.

Michalczik is gold for Cable and the Raiders because he implemented the ZBS well at Cal, helping produce a 1,000 yard rusher every season since 2002. He was their assistant head coach and co-offensive coordinator last year as well, so he was a big contributor to the Bears' offense.

This is a great hire for the Raiders, who got a coach who can only add more spice to the offense.

Lionel Washington, Defensive Backs Coach

When the Raiders lost Darren Perry, some may have wondered who else would be available that has a track record like his (playing for the Steelers alongside Rod Woodson from 1992-98, with a career total of 35 interceptions).

When the Green Bay Packers did not re-sign defensive backs coach Lionel Washington, the Raiders must have been happy as ever knowing he is a man-to-man coach who previously played for the Raiders (1987-1994, 1997). During his career, he compiled 37 picks, four of which he took back for scores.

The guy knows how to play bump and run, and that's about all they do in Oakland. He's a better fit than Perry was. Another good hire.

John Marshall, Defensive Coordinator

The experienced crop of NFL coaches continues. Cable and Davis hired Marshall to bring his experience and knowledge to the table to help turn around a defense that has been in the bottom of the league in rush defense for years.

Marshall has been known to create pressure up front with the occasional blitz. This is good for the Raiders, who relied on their front four to get after the quarterback while Rob Ryan was here.

Marshall was a part of two Super Bowl teams from 1989-1998 with the San Francisco 49ers. They boasted the NFL's best defense 1997.

With the Panthers, his defense ranked fourth in takeaways (105) over his three-year stint from 1999-2001.

He was the leader of the 2005 Seahawks defense en route to a Super Bowl berth.  They led the league with sacks (50), only allowed one 100 yard rusher and five rushing touchdowns, and finished second in NFL red-zone defense (40.4 percent).

Marshall will have his work cut out for him, as he is reteaching fundamentals to a Raiders squad that hasn't been consistent nor aggressive in years past under Rob Ryan.

Dwaine Board, Defensive Line Coach

This hire may be the reason Marshall has had success in the past, being as Board demands pressure up front.

Board started out as a player with the 49ers, then became an assistant coach with them and never looked back.

During his first year with the Seahawks in 2003, he turned the NFL's worst rush defense into 19th best in one year, also coaching them up to 41 sacks (seventh in the NFL).

From 2005-2007 with Seattle, his defensive line ranked second in the league with 136 sacks.

Over the past five years, the Raiders have given up 101 rushing touchdowns, which is the highest in NFL history over any five-year span. They have ranked 22nd (2004), 25th (2005-2006), and 31st (2007-2008) against the run.

If Board can put a dent in the Raiders' rank in rush defense and get players like nose tackle Terdell Sands and defensive end Jay Richardson to step it up in the process, the Raiders could have a nice front four this year.

But don't hold your breath. No matter how easy it is for Tom Cable to point the finger at Rob Ryan for the Raiders run defense troubles, the players still need to play better.

Bottom line: Davis and Cable have put together a staff that brings experience, knowledge, and hard work/preparation to a team that is just getting over the "we suck so let's not play hard" mentality.

It's the best staff the Raiders have had since Jon Gruden was here, by far.

It's all up to the coaches and players now, who will need to execute well, be in the right spot, and limit the mistakes to even have hope of reaching a .500 season or better this year.


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