Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin has had a tumultuous start to his NFL coaching career. He took over the reins of the Raiders in 2007 as the 4th different head coach since Gruden's departure following the 2001 season. The team had endured four consecutive losing seasons, and Kiffin would lead them to their fifth with a 4-12 record in his first season as head coach. In the following offseason, Kiffin would clash with Al Davis over the retention of Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator.
Kiffin wanted to fire Ryan, and Davis blocked the move - Kiffin was under the impression that he would have the power to hire and fire his own staff, just like every other NFL head coach. This discord led to Davis sending Kiffin a letter of resignation to sign; Kiffin refused. After losing badly at home to Denver in week one this season, Kiffin moved to distance himself even more from Ryan's defensive play calling and schemes. In a press conference, he also hinted that Davis had a role in Ryan's defense. Ryan's media response came in the form of a profanity-laced tirade, defending his players and proclaiming his defense free of Davis' influence.
The Raiders week two victory over the Kansas City Chiefs came in dominating fashion on the road, amid rumors and reports that Kiffin's job was in jeopardy. Whether the Kiffin-Davis-Ryan spat would be a distraction to the players seemed to be put to rest, if anything it seems like they may have been invigorated by the drama. Winning can cure everything, but the Bills are up next on the road, and they will provide a much tougher test than the Chiefs. Can Kiffin survive another ugly loss? Nobody knows, but this Raiders fan hopes Lane Kiffin is a Raiders coach for a long time. He is just trying to assert his power as head coach over his staff and on the field.
Most Raiders fans believe that Rob Ryan hasn't done enough with the talent he has on defense. He is often far too conservative and if he would be more aggressive then the defense could be taken to another level - like it was against the Chiefs last Sunday. Granted, there is a big difference between Jay Cutler and Tyler Thigpen, but the Denver offensive line is not as good as we made them look in the opener. They were often max protecting and Cutler had all day to throw because we didn't bring extra players to pressure him - even on 3rd & long passing downs.
It doesn't matter how good or bad the Raiders secondary is, they can't cover receivers indefinitely. The Raiders' talented linebackers running around in coverage would be much more effective if they were instead knocking the quarterback to the turf.
Given all that, Ryan still is a great motivator which means he could still be a great coach. I'd like to see him remain with the Raiders and learn from both his mistakes and successes. I think Lane Kiffin is a potentially brilliant head coach that just needs some elbow room. I think Al Davis needs to relax and let his coaches do their jobs. Davis is a hero to me because of the success he brought to the Raiders organization, but he is interfering too much with this young team.
The Raiders coaching job is not something big name coaches want, and it's because they know Davis retains and wields too much power and influence. Fire Kiffin, and we'll have to try and find another young, aspiring college coach or NFL assistant that will be learning on the job; we're ahead of that curve with Kiffin now. We already know he isn't going to lay down and do Al's bidding, and he isn't going to run away from the job. Let's see what he can do to turn the Raiders back into winners.