Before I delve deeper into the whole “Hue for Head Coach” dilemma facing the Oakland Raiders at the beginning of this offseason, I just want to ask: Are you drinking the Kool-Aid now?
Now, in the depths of my inner soul, here is what I believe is going to happen and why.
First of all, let’s eliminate some possibilities. There is no way Al Davis is letting Hue Jackson, who is still under contract for another season, go to the arch-rival Denver Broncos. The Broncos are hot and heavy for Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh, and we’ll have to wait and see if Harbaugh likes anything about Tim Tebow and having the second overall draft pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Reportedly John Elway is perusing Harbaugh heavily. Another more likely candidate for the Broncos is Atlanta offensive coordinator and former Buffalo head coach, Mike Mularkey, who will interview with the team on Friday.
The Cincinnati Bengals, for whom Jackson has worked previously, brought back Marvin Lewis for another season…at least…so they are out of the running. The San Francisco 49ers have sought and obtained permission from Raiders owner Al Davis to speak with Jackson and according to Raiders all-purpose voice of reason, John Herrera, Al is “happy for Hue” and would never block him from an opportunity. The Niners are also interested in seeing New York Giants defensive coordinator, Perry Fewell. The Browns and Panthers also have requested to speak with Fewell. But the 49ers most intriguing prospect is the aforementioned Harbaugh, who could be highly interested in staying in California without much disruption to his family. And Jackson is not going to go to Cleveland where he has no control of the roster under Mike Holmgren and would be lucky to get any control of the offensive gameplan.
That makes the likeliest answers no to Cincinnati, no to Denver for sure, no to Cleveland, and probably not to San Francisco for Coach Jackson. Minnesota is likely to stay with Leslie Frazier and Dallas is likely to stick with Jason Garrett. It’s a messy head coaching pool out there right now. There are some other teams, like Carolina and possibly Miami, which are not terrible places to live or play football, but there are also some other big name candidates out there like Bill Cowher, former Raiders coach Jon Gruden, and possibly even Tennessee’s Jeff Fisher. That means that Jackson has some stiff competition.
As far as the Raiders head coaching situation, I believe I heard Adam Schefter say something very similar about the status of Tom Cable after last season. It’s like déjà-vu, man. And there’s no way I’m listening to anything Michael Lombardi says. But one guy I will listen to is Tom Cable, who 100 percent believes he will be back next year, and right now I don’t see any reason for him not to think that way. You really think Al Davis is going to promote Hue Jackson when he is already under contract to be with the team next year and get rid of the best motivator, best offensive line coach, and personnel favorite Tom Cable? Not likely. Davis is old and wise, he’s not stupid.
Cable said in his press conference yesterday that all of his coaches were in this thing for the long haul. And I’d bet my hard earned money that Cable and Davis have had conversations pertaining to exactly what the “long haul” is and exactly how long the haul actually is going to be -- which is why there is an option for a third year on Cable’s contract in the first place.
Plus, Hue Jackson has publicly stated that he feels like he failed at his job this year because the Raiders did not make the playoffs. Can he really leave with a clean conscience thinking that he failed? And can he really take over for Cable, his friend, as head coach with a clear conscience?
Jackson knows what he has with this Raiders offensive group. He knows their strengths and their weaknesses. But more importantly, he knows how to make them get better. And potentially, a few interviews in addition to the performance of the offense this year could lead to a pay rate increase, even if it’s only slight.
With the lockout, the NFL’s “money problems,” and the fact that the water is chock full of arm flapping attention getter coaches, Jackson’s inexperience as a head coach and only one year with the Raiders offense, the best option for Hue Jackson is just to stay put where he is and possibly get a little bit more money from Al Davis.
I mean, what was really the difference in the Raiders’ offense this year? Was it Jackson, who had some flawed game plans this year, the release of JaMarcus Russell, or just the fact that the Raiders should have hired an offensive coordinator when they removed the interim tag in the first place because Cable had too much on his plate? It’s hard to say, really.
Which leads me to my next point. The Raiders have reportedly shown interest in former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, the engineer of the 2007 New England Patriots undefeated team’s offense that set a record for touchdown passes thrown in a season. If Jackson does not return, look for McDaniels to replace him as the offensive play caller. I say that because the Raiders already have a head coach and Josh McDaniels was 1-3 against him in his Denver tenure.
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