Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

December 23, 2007
Kiffin sees what other coaches have seen

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Today Lane Kiffin got a full dose of the Raiders he didn’t want.

These were the Raiders that Bill Callahan knew. The bunch that bumbled for Norv Turner and were listless for Art Shell.

Everything that could go wrong did in their 49-11 loss.

Warren Sapp’s blow up in the first half in the Raiders’ was everything Kiffin doesn’t want from a team.

Kiffin was embarrassed by what Sapp did. He might spin it as he was standing up for his coach after the officials didn’t ask Kiffin if he wanted to accept or decline a penalty on Jaguars tackle Tony Pashos.

But the officials corrected the mistake. There was no need to escalate the situation. And the way Sapp acted wasn’t indicative of a player defending his coach, but a player looking out for himself.

He earned three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during a dead ball. Inexcusable, especially for someone that is supposed to be a team captain.

There’s a chance that was the last time Sapp wears a Raider uniform. Don’t be shocked if he’s suspended for making contact with an official, which is why he was ejected.

Kiffin talks a lot about fixing the Raiders locker room. And jettisoning Sapp’s salary and attitude is probably the next step.

Behavior like that is what’s been wrong with the Raiders. Only one player – Dominic Rhodes – clearly said behavior like that is unacceptable.

The Raiders cannot afford to go back to the “we don’t know why that happened and the refs are messing with us” mentality.

Rhodes played for Tony Dungy, the man Sapp says he learned so much from.

Sapp probably respects Dungy too much to ever pull a stunt like that.

That’s just another reason why Kiffin probably won’t bring Sapp back.

*****

There’s a picture circulating on the Web of a photo-shopped Kiffin’s head holding a baby JaMarcus Russell (photo-shopped head on a baby) at a hospital.

It’s good for a quick laugh.

I know Kiffin is forever worried about Russell’s confidence. But Jerry Porter said it best: “You’ve got to let him get his nose bloody sometime. Get a little beat up within reason.”

Porter said that about the hard hit Russell took in the second quarter.

But it rings true beyond that. Russell needs to see for himself how fast the passing windows close in the NFL and how to handle himself on the field.

Russell’s confidence isn’t hurting, either. He’ll be fine when he makes his first NFL start against San Diego.

****
Russell’s struggles aside, the most disappointing part of the game was the overall defensive effort.

Not just Sapp’s act. But the tackling was as bad as it’s been all season. They didn’t come out with any intensity and were bullied by the Jaguars.

For a unit that wanted to be the strength of the Raiders, it was just a sad bunch against the Jaguars.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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