New Raiders GM pulls trigger on Jackson but move looks familiar

by | CBSSports.com National NFL Insider
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Did Hue Jackson get enough time to show he was the right coach for the Raiders? (AP)  
Did Hue Jackson get enough time to show he was the right coach for the Raiders? (AP)  

Somewhere there is a football heaven and Al Davis is in it, laughing.

He's sitting with the legends of the sport: Lombardi, Brown, Mara -- and they notice Davis chuckling to himself.

"What's so funny, Al?" Lamar Hunt asks.

"They can't blame this one on me, can they?"

No, Al. They can't.

This piece of irresponsible Raiders foolishness belongs to Reggie McKenzie, who out-Davised Davis. McKenzie fired Hue Jackson after one season of 8-8 coaching, thus plunging the Raiders into another rebuilding project, another period of uncertainty, another destabilizing moment in a franchise that seems to live off of them like sugar highs.

I'm told by a Raiders team source that Jackson was completely caught by surprise.

"He didn't see this coming at all," the source said.

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Well, he should have. It is, after all, the Raiders. That's like working for Charlie Sheen and saying you didn't see moments of unfiltered crazy on the horizon. Despite the passing of Davis it seems "blindsided" remains on the Raider menu.

To be fair, McKenzie is following a pattern familiar in the NFL since there has been an NFL. He wants his own guy and Jackson wasn't him. Roger that. Understood. And Jackson was the calcifying force behind the Carson Palmer trade, which I've always believed was coaching malpractice. You don't trade a first-round pick and conditional second for an old, washed-up thrower.

All of those things didn't exactly help Jackson, and to be sure he earned a short leash.

But the damage of firing Jackson will have lasting effects and few of them will be good. Throughout the history of sports -- all sports, not only football -- it's rare for a franchise to succeed when there's a great deal of coaching turnover. It just doesn't work.

What Al McKenzie -- uh, sorry, Reggie McKenzie -- should have done was wait a year. Unless Jackson was secretly working part time for Russians as a spy, there's nothing to justify his firing. You wait a year, watch him and see what he's about. While two years isn't a whole lot longer, it's still longer and you don't have everyone in the Raiders from the players to the team secretaries wondering just what in the hell's going on.

I want you to look at the best franchises in football. Go ahead. Look. Have the New York Giants recently fired a coach after only one season? Even when they switched general managers? Have the Packers? The Patriots? Teams like Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh define stability.

Then look at the franchises that can't win. The Raiders, the Cowboys -- the trigger happy, the impatient. There are exceptions, but most of the time a lack of stability equals losing. The Raiders have had seven coaches since 2000. This is the second time during that period a Raiders coach has been fired after just one season (Art Shell was the first), and Lane Kiffin lasted only 20 games. In 1997, Joe Bugel was fired after one season.

It actually takes more courage and vision to be patient. The reward of patience often is stability. The enemy of stability is just as often fickleness.

The Raiders didn't make great strides under Jackson, and while he was a terrible general manager his coaching acumen seemed solid despite a late-season swoon. I say seemed to be solid because after one season there was no true way to really know.

McKenzie may get the last chuckle at the doubters like me. If his hire does go on to win, I'll be the first to say I was wrong. Maybe McKenzie, who wanted total control of the organization and got it, will hire the next John Madden.

Or maybe history will repeat itself as it seems to with organizations that make rash and inconsistent decisions.

Nope. Can't blame this one on Al, but even with him gone ... same old Raiders.

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