Chemistry the Al Davis Way: How Subtraction Is Addition for the Oakland Raiders

George CashewContributor IMay 28, 2010

ALAMEDA, CA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis speaks during a press conference to announce the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin of the Oakland Raiders at thier training facility on Septemer 30, 2008 in Alameda, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Sometimes when you're mixing a drink, you can get the ingredients all wrong.

You might put in too much soda pop and it gets way too light. Other times, it's too much of the active ingredient and you fall asleep all the time.

If there is one thing Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis is known for, it is that he will make his drink how he sees fit.

Sometimes it is his Achilles' heel, and sometimes he hits it out of the park.

Chemistry is a little understood concept, especially to those who are only familiar with the concept of the "id." In an NFL locker room, this kind of hubris can be a team killer. Like a good drink, you want a little, but not too much.

This offseason, Davis did some major tinkering with the mixture of his beverage, the Raiders, but three areas where he has made a wonderful potion are sure to impact the team—and its chemistry—for a long time.


Uncharacteristically, Davis went with solid, dependable picks with his first two choices of the 2010 NFL Draft by taking guys on the other side of the ball.

Rolando McClain has a chance to become a Pro Bowl-caliber player, and was a smart decision taken in the eighth spot. Gone were the flashy overpaid choices of the past. Enter the dependable, hardworking guys.


Once again going against his character, Davis manned up and made a difficult, but necessary, decision by ending the JaMarcus Russell experiment at quarterback.

He jettisoned the overpaid and under-performing dead weight in favor of the hard-working and driven when he plucked QB Jason Campbell from Washington in a preseason trade.

Everything else remained pretty much the status quo, as the move at QB was the key ingredient.


It would have been easy to point the blame at head coach Tom Cable, like most of his detractors do.

But at the end of the day, Davis probably made a really smart choice by keeping Cable, and tweaking the mixture a bit, by bringing in offensive coordinator Hue Jackson—a little bit of sageness to temper the fiery Cable, perhaps?


Only time will tell if Davis has gotten the mixture right.

Based on the initial accounts, the Raiders seem to be pulling together better than they have over the past three years. Where last year Cable was bashing an assistant over the head, this year he has gone out of his way to compliment much maligned receiver Darius Heyward-Bey for his effort and improvement during OTA's.

Has the right chemical balance been reached in order for the Raiders to succeed? Is addition by subtraction really a formula that can work for Davis?

Time will tell, but I am making an inference that there will be better chemistry, and a lot less animosity and upheaval in the locker room.

I wager that team leader and defensive standout Nnamdi Asomugha will not be making any "better prepared" comments about the roster this year.

Win or lose, the effort will be there, the improvement will be there, and the gratitude from Raider fans will definitely be there.


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