Friday, May 17, 2013

Amy Trask's Departure, New Raiders Stadium Intrigue and Mark Davis Being Consistently Inconsistent

I don't get Mark Davis. On one hand, I respect him for being humble when he said "I know what I don't know" during his first foray with the media after his father passed away.  However, now, he is saying “In my lifetime, we’ve had three successful seasons. That’s the absolute truth. That’s the way I live my life. That’s the way we live our lives. What we’re trying to build is a team that is going to go after Super Bowls. It can’t just be a one-shot deal.”

Ok, so if Mark lives his life according to the same win at all costs philosophy as Al did, then why wasn't he more involved in football decisions his whole life?  The latter statement sounds like Mark's attempt to convince himself and others he is a chip off the old block but the reality is pretty obvious. Mark is nothing like his father in any way shape or form.

It's no secret Al controlled all decision making with everything Raiders during his lengthy reign but he did solicit input from other people. If Al bequeathed the franchise to his only son, it would stand to reason there must have been some sort of knowledge transfer long before Al passed away. BUT that does not seem to have ever happened. Based on what we are seeing thus far from Mark, at least not in the volume enough for Mark to hit the ground running when he took over.  Very few people outside the franchise were even aware Mark even existed prior to Al's death except a handful of Raiders boosters who participated in golf events where Mark was present (Mark likes to golf).

Mark seems to want to honor certain principles his dad maintained as sacred.  The uniform and logo of course remain unwaveringly unchanged. Nike rolled out it's 2013 uniforms and equipment to all teams with options to incorporate  new technology to help player performance.  I can't imagine why Mark would not want his players wearing uniforms that offered superior fit and flexibility.  Yet, not even colorblocking jerseys and moisture wicking pants was approved.  Not even something as simple as tapered collar was acceptable. The Raiders identity must remain as static as Al was colorblind (which he was).

Uniforms aside, we have the sudden departure of longtime Al Davis crony, Amy Trask, who acted as the friendly face of the franchise since Al was unable to do that.  Insiders hint that Trask and Mark Davis did not see eye to eye on many issues. My guess would be Trask's resignation may have to do with the lack of progress with finding a new stadium solution.  The quick recap of that situation is here,  Roger Goodell put on a good show for the Oakland hopeful but what it amounts to is simply leaving the prospect of a new stadium up to the city of Oakland and the Alameda County Joint Powers Authority to pony up a significant part of the cost.  That would never happen. Oakland is not far behind Detroit and other decaying urban cities in deep financial trouble.

In Al's day, it was a lot easier to build a stadium. Al held the key to the city and in the 1960's the Oakland Coliseum was not a bad design. To demolish it and rebuild it now is something beyond modern economics can do. Not even the most daring of real estate developers would tread on that dump.  Amy Trask's idea of a super mall in that location was nothing short of ludicrous.

The Raiders do not have anywhere near the same type of community support as the 49ers who were able to negotiate with a bay area city for a new stadium sharing the costs.

Nobody wants the Raiders as tenants as evidenced by their being unable to find a new home locally.  Trask may have been "the fall guy" for this since Mark's efforts also failed and he can't fire himself obviously.

If a new stadium gets built in LA it could still potentially go to the Raiders but it is a longshot. The Vikings fixed their stadium problem with swanky new digs on tap.  Though, due to proximity, unless San Diego can get a new stadium in SD, they seem a logical bet to move to LA.  If not, St. Louis seems the next logical choice because they have a much more favorable history with the NFL than do the Raiders.  I'm not even sure Oakland would get the nod over Jacksonville if it came down to it.

What it all means is now Mark needs to pull a rabbit out of his hair - I mean hat, I mean...well, you get the idea.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Comparing the Chiefs and Raiders Rebuilding Processes

I can’t say I followed Andy Reid’s career closely over the years but I have wondered how he held onto such a difficult job in Philadelphia for so long.  He has got to have nerves of steel to cope with that nutty fan base. Philly is a city so sports low on patience they once booed Mike Schmidt. How can anyone boo Mike Schmidt?

Thankfully, he probably won't need as thick a skin in KC as he needed in Philly. I think Reid is just what the Kansas City Chiefs need as head coach and architect to re-invigorate the franchise.  It remains to be seen how the Chiefs do on the field but in terms of infrastructure, I really like all of his hires. Reid has made calculated coaching hires and personnel decisions that fit together pretty well. I especially applaud his hiring of Chris Ault as offensive consultant. Not that Chris Ault is a mastermind but he is an innovator with an accomplished track record. The Chiefs will now benefit from his experience.

Now, consider that this has all taken place over just a few months time, coming off a season where they were the worst team in the NFL.  How would you compare the way the Chiefs have rebuilt in less time than the Raiders are in the process of doing?

I completely understand the Raiders salary cap constraints which have been talked to death by now.  I completely understand the mess Al Davis bequeathed his non-football-knowledgeable son Mark. I completely understand Reggie McKenzie being a rookie General Manager and his rookie hire of rookie head coach Dennis Allen who continues to make very rookie-like mistakes.

I understand at this point the Raider Nation has no choice but to give Dennis Allen time to grow into the role. That is what his boss, Reggie McKenzie, is doing and that is what team owner Mark Davis has stated the plan of action is for the foreseeable future.

But the NFL is a win now league. So if I was in Dennis Allen's shoes, I would be looking for a home run hire to score points.  I'd look for someone to add to the coaching brain trust who can help shape the focus of where we want to go in as short a time span as possible. Surely DA knows he can't do it alone or rely on his mentor and good friend John Fox with the rival Denver Broncos. Does anyone else find it ironic how the Broncos and Raiders are not bitter enemies so long as those two guys are head coaches of those teams?

Yet, DA's reliance on his own network failed him with the hire of Greg Knapp to run the offense in year 1 of his reign.  Now, a reliance outside his network seems to point in the same direction for year 2.

I do not agree with the hiring of Greg Olson as offensive coordinator.  Why?  Because Olson has held that role before in the NFL and has not stood out as a difference maker.  You need guys with the kind of experience who can turn a weak program into a competitive program quickly, not mediocrity.  You need guys who have seen it before and know what to do. I am tired of Dennis Allen’s “we’ve got to get better” statements.  Oh really?

A previous post of mine tosses out a few ideas. Maybe these guys are not a good fit or maybe too high priced, who knows.

Terry Shea is a proven asset to coach QBs. Jim Tressel is a bona fide winner. Jeff Tedford is still available. These guys would help solidify the direction of the offense. Instead, Dennis Allen went with just another guy named Greg.

Apparently they feel the Mad Chemist, Jason Tarver, is all they need as a defensive brain trust.  I will leave that one be for now.

The Chiefs are on track to go from league worst to the middle of the pack. The Raiders just seemed to have re-tooled their roster with different names with different salaries along with a few minor coaching changes. It is wait and see of course but where do you honestly think the Raiders and Chiefs will end up in the standings in 2013?