Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

January 30, 2009
Is Lechler or Asomugha the Raiders' franchise player?

The National Football Post listed the figures for Franchise and Transition Tag players today.

The Raiders have two candidates to be tagged: CB Nnamdi Asomugha and P Shane Lechler.

The franchise number for cornerbacks is $9.96 million, second only to quarterbacks ($14.65 milliion).

But Asomugha was tagged last year and made $9.765 million. If he's franchised again, he's guaranteed 120 percent of what he made in 2008, putting his salary closer to $11.5 million if the Raiders tag him.

The franchise tender for punters/kickers is $2.48 million. The transition figure is $2.26 million.

The only kicker punter/punter the salary cap number over $3 million in 2008 was Sebastian Janikowski.

You can bet Lechler, with his four Pro Bowls, would command a salary that would make him the highest punter/kicker in the NFL.

The transition tag would give the Raiders the right of first refusal to match any offer.

The Raiders made Asomugha an exclusive franchise player last year, which meant he could not negotiate with other teams.

Non-exclusive franchise players can negotioate with other teams with his original team having the right of first refusal. If the team declines to match the offer, that team would receive two first-round draft picks.

It's just a hunch by me, but I think reaching a long-term deal with Lechler is more likely. No team is likely to value him as much as the Raiders would. And unless another team that's a contender is willing to pay Lechler like that, I like his chances to return.

If Asomugha is franchised again, I'd expect the Raiders to put the "exclusive" tag on him. The team refused to give him any clauses when he signed his tender last year that would prevent him from being franchised again (like Asante Samuel received in 2007 and Albert Haynesworth got last year).

And no, Asomugha does not want to be franchised again.

If the Raiders don't reach a deal with Asomugha, they risk losing him in 2010. And just like Charles Woodson, they could watch him playing in Pro Bowls for another team.


--Jason Jones


January 28, 2009
Some coaching news the Raiders will confirm

Me, you and everyone else believes Tom Cable will eventually be named the Raiders' head coach.

But while Cable waits to find out if he has the job, the Raiders did announce some staffing updates.

Paul Hackett is the new quarterbacks coach. It's the same job he held in Tampa Bay from 2005-07.

Hackett replaces John DeFilippo.

Here's a quick loot at how QBs did under Hackett during that time:

2007: Jeff Garcia, No. 7 in passer rating (94.6), 13 TDs, 4 INTs. The Bucs made the playoffs.

2006: Bruce Gradkowski, Rookie started 11 games with 9 TDs and 9 INTs.

2005: Chris Simms started 10 games. He completed 61 percent of his passes with 10 TDs and 7 INTs.

Though Hackett didn't coach JaMarcus Russell last season, he must have seen a lot of him as he walked laps around the practice field last year.

*John Marshall interviewed with the team about becoming the Raiders' defensive coordinator today.

He was the defensive coordinator at Seattle and has held that job with the 49ers, too.

As for Cable, an announcement of his hiring should come next week if he indeed does get the job.

Because until it becomes official, there's never any way to predict what the Raiders will do.

--Jason Jones

January 28, 2009
Raiders say it's not Cable's time yet

ESPN and the NFL.com report the Raiders have decided to name Tom Cable head coach.

ESPN said the Raiders informed another candidate of that decision on Tuesday while NFL.com reports Raiders owner Al Davis has begun telling people around the league he has selected Cable.

The Raiders deny a decision has been made.

Besides Cable, the only other candidates known to have interviewed are New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and Green Bay Packers assistant head/linebackers coach Winston Moss.

A source close to Cable said this afternoon that Cable, who was 4-8 as the interim head coach, had not been told he'd been named head coach.

Raiders senior executive John Herrera told ESPN the following:

"The decision has not been made. That's not correct. At some point here we will have a head coach, but as of now that decision has not been made. We are assembling a staff as you know, but a decision on the head man has not been made."

While a decision on a head coach has been slow to come by, the Raiders have already hired a new defensive line coach, Dwaine Board and Lionel Washington to coach defensive backs.

Adam Henry is the new tight ends coach while Kelly Skipper has moved from coaching tight ends to running backs.

John Fassel has also already been named special teams coordinator.

The Raiders have also interviewed Al Saunders about becoming offensive coordinator.

Cable has been expected to get the job for some time. But of course, Davis could change his mind.

--Jason Jones

January 27, 2009
Board comes aboard

Some staffing updates:

*Dwaine Board is officially the Raiders new defensive line coach.

Board, 52, was most recently the defensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks from 2003-08. Board coached defensive linemen for the 49ers from 1990-02.

*The Raiders are interested in retaining scout Paul Hackett as a member of the coaching staff.

Hackett, 61, frequently spent time walking laps around the Raiders' practice fields for exercise during the season could emerge as the new quarterbacks coach.

Hackett also has experience as an offensive coordinator. His last stint in that capacity was with the New York Jets (2001-04). He was the quarterbacks coach in Tampa Bay from 2005-07.

The Bee's 49ers beat writer Matt Barrows reported last week the 49ers also have interest in Hackett.

Before firing Lane Kiffin, Hackett was one of the coaches Raiders owner Al Davis met with about possibly taking over the team.

*Darren Perry has left the Raiders to coach safeties in Green Bay. He spent two seasons with the Raiders. He'd already been replaced as secondary coach by former Green Bay cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington.

*Former 49ers and most recently, Seattle defensive coordinator John Marshall is reported to be a candidate to be the Raiders' next defensive coordinator. The Raiders haven't confirmed any interest in Marshall. Mike Haluchak, who spent the last four seasons coaching linebackers in Cleveland, is reported to be a candidate to fill the same position with the Raiders.

*And finally, for Raider fans that want Jon Gruden back, make sure not to call Simeon Rice for a reference.

On Sirius NFL Radio, Rice, the former Pro Bowl defensive end called Gruden a "scumbag."

"You look at what he did when Chris (Simms) damn near died on the field he wanted to release him right when he got injured," Rice said. "I get hurt, my shoulder's torn off the bone. This dude releases me. You know what I mean? I'm your guy. The list goes on. Keenan McCardell, that situation was a debacle. Keyshawn Johnson, another situation [that] was a debacle. Joey Galloway, which was his man, was in the dog house all year because he got injured, broke his ankle or whatever. Brad Johnson, that situation was bad. Brings Jeff Garcia in here, oh, he's going to change things. I helped recruit him [and he] released me, kept Jeff and then put him in the dog house. Gets rid of Brian Greise, brings him, starts a controversy. It was chaotic. I'm giving you facts."

That said, Raider fans would happily welcome Gruden back. But it's not going to happen.


--Jason Jones

January 26, 2009
Quick Q&A

It's a slow work week since I'm not in Tampa. Also, the Raiders still don't have a head coach.

So I'll try to answer some of the questions that have found their way to my inbox.

Question: Why are the Raiders hiring assistant coaches while not having named a head coach? Does this mean Tom Cable will definitely be the new head coach?

Answer: Because there are some coaches Al Davis wants on his staff, regardless of whom the new head coach will be.

The Raiders would argue their coaches have plenty of say over the makeup of their staff. But there will be certain coaches that Davis will keep around (or not, hence James Lofton's firing).

Lane Kiffin was allowed to hire several assistants. But the final say lies with Davis, which is why Rob Ryan was back as defensive coordinator for the 2008 season.

That's just how the Raiders work. Davis is the boss and you can either work within those constraints if you want to coach under Davis or get fired, like Kiffin did.

While I think Cable is likely to be named head coach I don't think it's a certainty. I only say that because of this delay in making that decision official.

The delay would seem to indicate Davis believes there is someone else out there that might be better suited for the job. That's just a hunch on my part.

I think the Raiders still need to talk to Jim Fassel, who is qualified, fits what the Raiders need and would welcome the chance to coach in Oakland.

And the rumors about Marc Trestman have persisted so long it's likely there is some interest from the Raiders.

But whoever becomes the coach, he will have part of his coaching staff put together.

Question: Could Jon Gruden come back to Oakland?

Answer: No. Though Gruden has said plenty of nice things publicly, his departure (well, being traded to) Tampa Bay wasn't without some animosity.

Here are a couple of theories as to why the relationship soured:

1. Gruden believed he had a deal in place for a new contract with the Raiders and that Davis went back on his financial commitment. From there, Gruden had no intention of staying with the Raiders.

2. Davis believed Gruden would leave and he'd receive nothing for his head coach. Remember all the rumors of Gruden going to Notre Dame or Ohio State?

3. Gruden wanted what no coach would get from Davis: more control.

So while it would make for a nice story, it's not going to happen.

--Jason Jones

January 24, 2009
More reports of candidates

The National Football Post reported the Raiders "recently" spoke to Tennessee Titans linebackers coach Dave McGinnis about being the team's defensive coordinator.

McGinnis was the Arizona Cardinals head coach from 2000-03 after joining the team as defensive coordinator in 1996.

McGinnis has been with the Titans since 2004.

Former Raiders offensive coordinator Marc Trestman reportedly remains a candidate to be the Raiders' new offensive coordinator.

Trestman is currently the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

--Jason Jones

January 23, 2009
Might a new coach be two weeks away?

The Raiders could very well go into February without a head coach.

The Raiders and Chiefs are now the only NFL teams without a head coach now that Herm Edwards has been fired.

And there's a chance the Raiders and Chiefs are both waiting for the conclusion of the Super Bowl to speak with Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

The Raiders intended to speak with one or two more candidates and coaches from the Cardinals and Pittsburgh are the only coaches not available for interviews yet.

The Raiders waited until after the Super Bowl in 2006 in order to speak to Ken Whisenhunt. Raiders owner Al Davis said he never offered Whisenhunt the job that went to Art Shell.

Considering Whisenhunt is coaching in the Super Bowl and the Raiders could be on a fourth head coach since not offering him the job, I assume Whisenhunt isn't bothered that he wasn't offered the Raider job.

If the Chiefs also pursue Haley, the Raiders could be waiting around for second-dose of rejection.

The team could end all of this by interviewing candidates other than Haley or simply name Tom Cable head coach.

--Jason Jones

January 23, 2009
So much for Linehan


The Raiders' favorite ESPN reporter, Chris Mortensen, Scott Linehan will become the Detroit Lions new offensive coordinator, a day after the Raiders publicly expressed interest in having Linehan in for an interview for the same position.

Linehan had already turned down the 49ers and apparently believes the move to Detroit, which went 0-16 in 2008, is better for his family than coaching the Raiders or Niners.

Linehan will be reunited with quarterback Daunte Culpepper. The two had success in Minnesota with Linehan calling the plays.

Linehan was fired as head coach by the St. Louis Rams four games into the 2008 season.

That leaves Al Saunders as the only person known to have interviewed to be the Raiders' offensive coordinator.

--Jason Jones

January 22, 2009
$2 million reasons for Linehan to say no

What could the Raiders offer Scott Linehan to convince him he'd be better working for them instead of sitting at home and collecting the $2 million the St. Louis Rams owe him?

It was just on Sunday that Linehan said his resistance to move his family was a reason he didn't accept the 49ers offensive coordinator job. Now the Raiders plan to interview him for the same job.

Sure, Linehan would probably love to get back into coaching. The Rams fired Linehan as head coach four games into the 2008 season.

And there are a couple of reasons (assuming Tom Cable is named the head coach) for Linehan to join the Raiders.

*Linehan was teammates with Cable at Idaho.

*They coached at UNLV together.

Then again, Linehan isn't likely to make $2 million working under Cable.

Linehan might be better off sitting out the 2009 season and waiting for a more stable situation (i.e., a team ready to make the playoffs) to open up.

Then he wouldn't have to move his family until 2010.

If Linehan were to be offered the job, it would be over Al Saunders, who was Linehan's offensive coordinator in St. Louis last season. Saunders interviewed on Wednesday.

And while there is no head coach, the rest of the coaching staff continues to come together. Quality control coach Adam Henry was promoted to tight ends coach.

Henry replaces Kelly Skipper, who is now the running backs coach.

--Jason Jones

January 21, 2009
Board could come aboard soon

The Raiders are speaking with veteran defensive line coach Dwaine Board about joining the team. He would replace Keith Millard. An announcement could come as soon as Thursday.

Board, 52, has spent the last six seasons with the Seattle Seahawks. Board previously coached with the 49ers.

He also played for the 49ers from 1979-88. He recorded 45 sacks, 42.5 coming from 1983-86.

--Jason Jones

January 21, 2009
Cable working toward "next year"

The Raiders' contingent at the Senior Bowl includes Tom Cable, who finished the 2008 season as interim head coach.

Cable remains hopeful of being named head coach and told The Bee's Matt Barrows he's in Mobile, Ala., working.

Don't forget, a lot of coaches are in Mobile trying to find work. Doesn't sound as if that's what Cable is doing.

"I'm just here scouting players for next year," Cable said.

When it was mentioned such actions would imply Cable expects to be working for the Raiders in 2009, Cable simply said, "I don't want to get into (the implications)."

Cable has to be confident he'll get the job to be working without a contract to find players for "next year."

--Jason Jones

January 20, 2009
Martindale leaves, too

Linebackers coach Don Martindale has accepted the same position with the Denver Broncos.

There were rumors Martindale was a candidate to be the Raiders' next head coach (which the Raiders denied) or possibly the next defensive coordinator.

Instead he'll be tutoring the likes of D.J. Williams under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

This will be a big blow to the defense if the Raiders don't find a suitable replacement. Martindale was close with his players and rising starts Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard have credited Martindale with their growth.

And reports have the Raiders planning to interview Al Saunders about becoming the team's offensive coordinator.

The Raiders were interested in Saunders last year in the midst of the Lane Kiffin fiasco. Saunders is a veteran play-caller with stints in Kansas City (2001-05) and Washington (2006-07). Saunders spent last season with St. Louis as offensive coordinator.

Saunders has a lot of experience coaching wide receivers, too. He could fill the void left when James Lofton was fired from the position.

UPDATE: I have confirmed Saunders will meet with Davis in the next couple of days. Also, he was a candidate to be head coach back in 2006 when Art Shell was hired. Clearly, Davis is a fan of Saunders' work.

--Jason Jones

January 20, 2009
Another assistant coach leaves

Defensive tackles coach Don Johnson has joined the San Diego Chargers as their defensive line coach. He spent two seasons in Oakland.

Johnson was the defensive line coach under San Diego's defensive coordinator Ron Rivera in Chicago.

--Jason Jones

January 19, 2009
(Assistant) coach news

Kelly Skipper will return to the Raiders as the running backs coach. He replaces Tom Rathman, who took the same job with the 49ers.

It was also announced that Lionel Washington CQ has joined the staff as defensive backs coach, replacing Darren Perry.

Skipper coached tight ends for two seasons in Oakland, but played running back at Fresno State and coached running backs for the Bulldogs and at Washington State.

Skipper has the fortune of going from coaching the team's best offensive player (TE Zach Miller) to now handling the deepest position on the Raiders.

Washington played cornerback for the Raiders (1987-94, 97) and has spent the last 10 seasons in Green Bay.

He was the assistant defensive backs coach from 1999-04 and handled cornerbacks and the team's "nickel" package from 2005 until being fired this offseason along with most of the defensive staff.

I'd be shocked if Nnamdi Asomugha hasn't made a call to Charles Woodson to discuss Washington.

Asomugha will be a free agent, but the Raiders will almost certainly franchise him again.

*Raider senior executive John Herrera told the San Jose Mercury News the ESPN report that linebackers coach Don Martindale had emerged, as a head-coaching candidate was "totally untrue."

The San Francisco Chronicle, however, still reports Martindale is a candidate to be head coach after he met with owner Al Davis Saturday.

Herrera said before the interview Martindale was going to discuss the defense with Davis.

Here's why I'm inclined to believe the Raiders on this one. It's entirely possible Davis discussed the position with Martindale. But Davis did the same thing with Greg Knapp and Paul Hackett before naming Tom Cable interim head coach.

When it comes to the Raiders, a conversation doesn't equate candidacy for the job.

--Jason Jones

January 18, 2009
More on Martindale

ESPN's Michael Smith reports Raiders linebackers coach Don Martindale is also a candidate to be the next head coach.

Martindale met with Davis yesterday.

It's not the first time Martindale's name has been mentioned for that job. When owner Al Davis was looking for someone to replace soon-to-be-fired Lane Kiffin, Martindale's name was mentioned around team headquarters.

Martindale is well respected amongst the Raiders and is also a candidate to be the team's new defensive coordinator.

Martindale isn't under contract and will have his pick of jobs. Denver, Cleveland, the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens are said to be interested in him.

The last time Davis hired a coach with a defensive background was John Madden (who was also a linebackers coach) in 1969.

Another tidbit from the ESPN article is that Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley could be someone Davis wants to interview.

If that's the case, the Raiders might not have a head coach until after the Super Bowl.

--Jason Jones

January 17, 2009
Donatell not coming

The rumors are starting to sort themselves out.

National Football Post and The San Francisco Chronicle reported former University of Washington defensive coordinator Ed Donatell would interview to become the Raiders new defensive coordinator.

It was a significant development because considering Donatell had worked with Tom Cable in the past it could have been viewed as a sign Cable would indeed be named head coach.

The Raiders, through senior executive John Herrera, said Donatell rumors were off base.

Now it looks as if Donatell will be coaching in the AFC West, but not in Oakland. The Denver Post reports Donatell will join the Broncos as secondary coach.

Published reports had the Raiders interested in Broncos quarterback Jeremy Bates. He will be available as the Post reported new coach Josh McDaniels won't keep him on staff.

The Chronicle reports Bates won't interview with the Raiders unless it is to be head coach.

Bates is reportedly wanted by Tampa Bay and Detroit, too.

--Jason Jones

January 17, 2009
Martindale to sit down with Davis and other coaching tidbits

Raiders owner Al Davis plans to speak with linebackers coach Don Martindale today to gauge his interest in returning to the Raiders as defensive coordinator.

Martindale has multiple options right now that include going to Cleveland or Denver. But both of those teams already have defensive coordinators, so Martindale might be willing to wait to see how things turn out with the Raiders if it means a chance to run a defense.

Martindale is popular amongst players and his peers at team headquarters and helped develop the talents of Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison.

*John Fassel has been promoted to special teams coordinator. He was the assistant special teams coach under Brian Schneider last season.

Fassel is the son of Jim Fassel, who has expressed interest in coaching the Raiders and could be someone Davis interviews in the coming day.

*Defensive backs coach Darren Perry and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo have also spoken with Davis about returning next season in some role. Tight ends coach Kelly Skipper is still working at the team facility and is a strong candidate to be back next season. I'm not sure what's up with defensive line coach Keith Millard yet.

The only coach under contract is Lionel Washington.

*Davis would like to interview one or two more candidates before deciding on a head coach, said senior executive John Herrera. Even if Tom Cable gets the job, that's the right thing to do.

*So you want to know if Jon Gruden could be one of those candidates? Never say never, but while we're looking at things that would probably never happen, how's this for part of the staff:

Gruden: Head coach
Mike Shanahan: Offensive coordinator
Bill Callahan: Offensive line coach
Marcus Allen: Running backs coach

Marty Schottenheimer: Defensive coordinator

Chris Mortensen: Public relations director

--Jason Jones

January 16, 2009
Coaching search: 3 and out?

Is this it?

The Raiders due diligence has led the franchise to interview three candidates.

Considering the state of the franchise, it's surprising the Raiders haven't brought in every coach possible to see who would be best for the job.

But the team has already started hiring assistant coaches (Lionel Washington)?

What happened to Jim Fassel? Did other hot names spurn the team? Who knows?

Barring an unknown candidate, one of three men will be the next head coach.

Tom Cable

He was 4-8 as interim head coach and his last two games were his best. But he's also implied he'd return in another capacity. That's he's still at team headquarters working for the team even though he doesn't know if he has a job shows how much he wants to be with the team. Appears to be the favorite to land the job.

Winston Moss

Assistant head coach/linebackers for the Green Bay Packers that played linebacker for the Raiders has never been a head coach or a coordinator. A report had him doubting his own ability to be a head coach, which his agent refuted. Could be the Raiders new defensive coordinator if Don Martindale doesn't get the job.

Kevin Gilbride

He's the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants. The Raiders made it sound as if his agent begged for an interview, which he got on Thursday after speaking on the phone with owner Al Davis.

--Jason Jones

January 15, 2009
Gilbride and then ...?

New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is scheduled to interview for the Raiders' head-coaching job today.

He's the third candidate to earn a face-to-face meeting with Raiders owner Al Davis, joining interim head coach Tom Cable and Green Bay assistant head coach Winston Moss.

Sometime next week would be an ideal time for Davis to announce who will be his next head coach. With it being the bye week before the Super Bowl, the attention of the football world would be on the Raiders' announcement (something I've been told is never lost on Davis).

It would also give whoever the next head coach is time to head down to the Senior Bowl for a few days. That's where out-of-work assistant coaches often gather looking for a job.

Then again, I could be wrong, which wouldn't be a first.

*If there was an assistant the Raiders needed to keep, it was Brian Schneider. Unfortunately for the rest of the Pac-10, the special teams at USC just got a lot better with Schneider just got a lot better.

But Schneider is a friend of Lane Kiffin. And at team headquarters, that's like naming your child Shanahan and asking Davis to be the godfather.

*The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft has passed. Most mock drafts have the Raiders selecting Virginia tackle Eugene Monroe.

Though WR Michael Crabtree would be enticing if available, Monroe would be the sensible choice if he's the best offensive lineman available.

--Jason Jones


January 13, 2009
Raiders: New coach will decide Lofton's role

Just checked in with the Raiders about reports that James Lofton has been fired as wide receivers coach.

Senior executive John Herrera said Lofton is still with the team and that it would be up to the next head coach to decide what capacity Lofton would be used in.

So I asked if that meant whoever the next head coach is could keep Lofton as receivers coach if he chose, Herrera said reiterated that Lofton would be used in whatever role the new coach wanted.

It sounds like Lofton, who probably had the hardest job of any position coach on the Raiders in 2008, will earn his pay by not coaching receivers. Because he is still under contract, he could be reassigned in the front office. That's what happened to Charles Coe when Lofton was hired.

Herrera would not confirm that quality control assistant Sanjay Lal would be the new receivers coach. Adam Schefter of the NFL Network reported Lal signed a two-year
extension and would be promoted to receivers coach.

Being demoted or reassigned would be a dramatic change in status for Lofton, who twice interviewed to be the Raiders head coach before joining the staff last year.

The Raiders wide receivers were largely unproductive in 2008, but most would argue Lofton had very little to work with.

Lofton's position group was hit with injuries and by the end of the season his most experienced receiver was second-year pro Johnnie Lee Higgins.

The Raiders have added Lionel Washington to the coaching staff. He coached cornerbacks and worked with team's nickel package in Green Bay. He'd been on the Packers staff since 1999 before the team decided to purge its staff after a disappointing season.

Washington played for the Raiders from 1987-94 and 1997.

--Jason Jones

January 13, 2009
Moss waits on the wild card

Notes and news on a Tuesday afternoon

The agent for Winston Moss predicts his client will be an NFL head coach in the very near future.

But he wouldn't go as far as to predict it would be the Raiders, calling owner Al Davis a "wild card."

"He's either going to be back at Green Bay as the assistant head coach or possibly the defensive coordinator, or possibly be the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders," Moss' agent, Jack Bechta told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "I think this is just the beginning for Winston Moss."

The report cited former Raiders' employee Mike Lombardi's site, nationalfootballpost.com, that the Raiders wanted to interview Moss about being their defensive coordinator, but were denied permission by the Packers.

Teams cannot forbid assistants for interviewing to be a head coach. Moss interviewed with the Raiders Monday.

*The projected top receiver in this year's NFL draft, Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree announced he was leaving school early to enter the draft.

Pending a good time in the 40-yard dash, expect the Raiders to take a long look at him if he's available or even trading up for Crabtree.

*Jerry McDonald's blog reports Tom Cable's father passing last week and that a memorial service for Thomas Lee Cable, Sr., will be held Wednesday. Davis has always been very understanding in these situations so expect Cable to have the full support of the franchise during this time.

--Jason Jones

January 12, 2009
Moss in today and Gilbride might be in town this week

Winston Moss will meet with Raiders owner Al Davis today to interview for the Raiders' head coach vacancy, joining interim head coach Tom Cable as the only coaches to have interviewed in person for the job.

Moss is the assistant head coach/linebackers for the Green Bay Packers and played linebacker for the Raiders from 1991-94.

New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride could be in town Thursday for a face-to-face interview with Davis.

Gilbride had a 90-minute conversation over the phone with Davis on Jan. 3. With the Giants eliminated from the playoffs, Gilbride is free to interview for jobs again.

Gilbride is taking some heat back in New York for how the Giants finished the season with Eli Manning looking like the pre-Super Bowl run Eli and not running the ball enough.

Also, Atlanta receivers coach Terry Robiskie has been mentioned as a candidate. I've checked with the Raiders and with the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Falcons writer, D. Orlando Ledbetter, and there doesn't appear to be anything to the speculation.

Robiskie is a former Raiders coach from 1982-98 in various roles that included a stint as offensive coordinator from 1989-93. He also played running back for the Raiders from 1977-79.


January 9, 2009
Revisting history

The Raiders were kind enough to send out this note. In turn, I'm passing it along.

The Miami Dolphins going from 1-15 in 2007 to 11-5 in 2008 tied the 1998 Indianapolis Colts who were 13-3 after going 3-13 a year earlier for the biggest improvement in wins (10) in league history.

But the Raiders, who are always aware of the franchise's place in history, want you to know that's not the biggest improvement in the history of pro football (i.e., before the 1970 merger of the NFL and AFL).

The 1963 Raiders were 10-4 in Al Davis' first season with the team as coach and general manager, after a 1-13 1962 which gives the Raiders a greater improvement in winning percentage. Davis was named Pro Football Coach of the Year for his efforts.

The Raiders .6429 improvement in their win percentage is better than the .625 improvement by the Dolphins and Colts.

If the Raiders want to have the best single-season turnaround in NFL history, they'd need to go 15-1 in 2009. That would be an 11-game improvement over their 4-12 2008 and a .6875 winning percentage differential.

Excuse my brain freeze and thanks to Kurtis for alerting me of this. The Raiders were 5-11 last season so they'd have to go 16-0 for an 11-game improvement, for that same .6875 differential.

*While admitting Winston Moss' name has been mentioned as a coaching candidate, Raiders senior executive John Herrera said all of the speculation regarding positions on the staff is just that.

Ed Donatell's name surfaced as a candidate to be the team's defensive coordinator and Lionel Washington as a defensive backs coach in different reports.

Herrera said who ever the next head coach is would have plenty of say as to who would be on the staff, noting Lane Kiffin brought in 15 new coaches.

And as of now, the Raiders still don't have a head coach.

--Jason Jones

January 9, 2009
All Pros

Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and punter Shane Lechler were named to the Associated Press All-Pro team.

Lechler has been an All Pro four times (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008). This is Asomugha's second selection (2006).

UPDATE: The Raiders web site lists Asomugha as a first-time All Pro. The team's media guide has him as an All Pro in 2006.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Asomugha was named All Pro by another publication in 2006, not by the Associated Press though.

--Jason Jones

January 9, 2009
Moss set to talk with the Raiders

Former Raiders linebacker and Green Bay Packers assistant head coach and linebackers coach Winston Moss will interview for the Raiders' head coaching position, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Moss played for the Raiders from 1991-94 and survived the purge of defensive coaches after the Packers defense took much of the blame for their disappointing season.

Moss has already interviewed with the St. Louis Rams. And according to the Sentinel, Moss told the Rams he wasn't ready to be a head coach.

Interviewing Moss, 43, would put the Raiders in compliance with the NFL's Rooney Rule that requires teams to interview a minority candidate.

Moss could be a candidate to be the team's new linebackers coach and or defensive coordinator, too.

If current linebackers coach Don Martindale isn't promoted to defensive coordinator when his contract expires Tuesday, he could find work in Cleveland.

But Raiders owner Al Davis normally hires coaches with an offensive background, making interim head coach Tom Cable the favorite to land the job provided some unknown candidate doesn't emerge.

Considering the Raiders made it clear they didn't pursue Kevin Gilbride and his talk with Davis was a courtesy conversation, Cable and Moss would be the only candidates to interview for the job.

UPDATE: Checked with the Raiders. Moss' name has been mentioned but an interview hasn't been officially set up. I'll update later if something becomes official.

--Jason Jones

January 8, 2009
Cable's staff coming together?

Ed Donatell is the latest name to come up associated with the Raiders coaching vacancies.

The National Football Post reports Donatell will interview about being the Raiders' next defensive coordinator.

Donatell was most recently the defensive coordinator at the University of Washington, which couldn't stop almost the entire season. But he has an extensive background in the NFL, including time in Atlanta under Jim Mora, on the same staff as Tom Cable.

Donatell was also a coach at Idaho when Cable was a player and graduate assistant.

Donatell's defenses in Atlanta were 14th (2004) and 22nd (2005, 2006) in total defense.

But of more importance to Raider fans, Donatell's defenses were tied for eighth (2004), 26th (2005) and ninth (2006) against the run.

Such a move could indicate Cable is Al Davis' man and it would be a matter of time before Cable is named head coach.

The problem the Raiders might run in to is whether candidates would want to interview for the job if Donatell is hired and the staff in place appears to be put together for Cable.

And it could cost the Raiders money.

The Detroit Lions were fined $200,000 in 2003 for violating the Rooney Rule when hiring Steve Mariucci and not interviewing any minority candidates. The Lions said they tried to comply but coaches refused to interview believing the job was already Mooch's.

If Donatell is hired, that might be the case for the Raiders.

The Post also reports the Raiders have offered former Green Bay cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington their secondary coaching job.

Washington was one of the defensive coaches fired by Green Bay. He played cornerback for 15 seasons, including stints with the Raiders from 1987-94 and 1997.

Washington has been in Green Bay for 10 seasons, including a year with Donatell, who was the Packers' defensive coordinator from 1995-99.

Former offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and running backs coach Tom Rathman are the only coaches that have had their names removed from the Raiders web site (the team's way of announcing changes without sending out a press release).

--Jason Jones

January 8, 2009
Could Marinelli to the Raiders work?

How's this for your next Raiders defensive coordinator or defensive line coach:

Rod Marinelli.

Yes, he just led the Detroit Lions to a 0-16 season.

And true, he comes from the Tony Dungy coaching tree, meaning he's fond of the Tampa 2 defensive scheme.

But Marinelli is popular not that he is unemployed. He's in Houston today and has already spoken with Seattle and Chicago.

Marinelli was a candidate for the Raiders head-coaching job in 2006 before the team went with Art Shell.

The Raiders' best in-house candidate to be the new defensive coordinator, linebackers coach Don Martindale, could bolt for Cleveland or another job rather than wait and hope to get a promotion from the Raiders.

Defensive line coach Keith Millard's contract is up and based on what other Raider coaches are doing, he could be on his way to more stable employment.

And Marinelli, who has been around talented defenders as the defensive line coach in Tampa with Dungy and later Jon Gruden, could be intrigued by the opportunity to see if he can push the likes of Tommy Kelly and Derrick Burgess to new levels.

Former Raider Warren Sapp always spoke highly of Marinelli and how he found ways to motivate, challenge and help defensive linemen improve.

Most consider the fiasco that led to the Lions going winless to be Matt Millen's fault so Marinelli's reputation as a leader appears to be in good standing.

But I guess finding a head coach should be the priority.

--Jason Jones

January 7, 2009
Cable chats and waits

The word is Tom Cable and Raiders owner Al Davis discussed his being the team's head coach today.

What that really means is anyone's guess. It was thought New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride had interviewed, when in fact he just had a "conversation" with Davis.

Was the talk merely a procedure because Davis plans to keep Cable? Was he gauging Cable's willingness to return in another role?

For now, Cable will just wait to see how things play out. He wants the job. Several players want him back. And with how the coaching staff is dispersing, some of those players probably just want to have a familar face around.

--Jason Jones

January 7, 2009
Coaches wanted (and needed) in Raiderland

Raider coaches continue to flee.

Though their contracts run through Jan. 13, they were free to negotiate with other teams as of today.

And they didn't waste any time looking for new employment.

ESPN reports Rob Ryan will join Eric Mangini in Cleveland as his defensive coordinator. Running backs coach Tom Rathman has agreed to take the same job with the 49ers, where he spent most of his NFL playing days.

The Chronicle reports special teams coordinator Brian Schneider was in Jacksonville for an interview and will also visit Seattle.

Well who's left?

There's interim head coach/offensive line coach Tom Cable, who could become the head coach.

Tight ends coach Kelly Skipper hasn't officially bolted yet.

Wide receivers coach James Lofton is still under contract.

Linebackers coach Don Martindale, defensive line coach Keith Millard and defensive backs coach Darren Perry haven't taken new jobs yet.

(oops, forgot to mention quarterbacks coach John DeFillipo here).

Martindale might be in line to be the Raiders next defensive coordinator. He could also resurface in Cleveland and will draw interest from several other teams.

Millard was one of the coaches Lane Kiffin wanted to fire last year.

So after years of continuity on the defensive staff with Ryan, Martindale and Millard that side of the ball will get a makeover.

Ryan will get a chance to run a defense without Al Davis looking over his shoulder. Even though it's known around the NFL Davis has say on the defense, Ryan fell on the sword more than once for Davis and his players when the unit struggled.

Hiring Cable might become a necessity at this point. Keeping him could fill the roles of head coach, offensive line coach and play-caller.

The Raiders won two straight with Cable handling all those duties to close out the 2008 season.

--Jason Jones

January 7, 2009
Knapp leaves, who will leave next?

So who will sit at the front of the classroom and help JaMarcus Russell's development?

It won't be Greg Knapp, who per Adam Schefter of the NFL Network, has made the long expected move to Seattle to join Jim Mora's staff as offensive coordinator.

Knapp was Mora's offensive coordinator in Atlanta.

Knapp spent two seasons in Oakland and was one of three employees Al Davis spoke with before deciding to go with Tom Cable as interim head coach.

Knapp was stripped of playcalling duties he inherited after Lane Kiffin was fired following the Raiders' 24-0 loss to Atlanta, but continued to run quarterback meetings and work closely with Russell.

Davis is said to want to move quickly in hiring a head coach, but while every other team with an opening has been interviewing candidates, the Raiders have yet to bring in anyone.

A phone call with New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride (which the Raiders aren't calling an interview) is all the team has done since the end of the season.

Schefter reports the Raiders staff has several coaches that could leave as their contracts expire and the Raiders have no head coach in place.

Special teams coach Brian Schneider is sure to have suitors. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has maintained he'd have no problem finding another job if not retained by the Raiders. And if his twin brother Rex Ryan were hired to be a head coach, Rob would definitely have at least one place to go.

Eric Mangini has reportedly accepted the head job in Cleveland and he might be inclined to bring Ryan on as his defensive coordinator.

Ann Killion, in her column yesterday in the San Jose Mercury News, touched on the possibility of Raiders running backs coach Tom Rathman returning the to the 49ers.

So it looks as if Cable does return, he'll have to rebuild his staff, too.

--Jason Jones

January 6, 2009
Youth movement worked at WR

If the Raiders are going to spend a lot of money in free agency, wide receiver shouldn't be the top priority.

The Raiders spent big on Javon Walker last year. Veterans Drew Carter and Ashley Lelie were also added. Lelie signed after Carter was lost for the season because of a knee injury.

But circumstance forced the Raiders to turn to its young receivers.

And guess what? Some of the young guys can play.

The Raiders have been looking for wide receivers for some time. And if not for injuries to Walker, Carter, and Lelie we might not have ever found out Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens have the potential to be contributors.

Higgins was essentially labeled not smart enough to play as a rookie in 2007. He spent a large part his second season not in the regular rotation until injures gave him an opportunity to prove he was more than punt returner.

Higgins was the only wide receiver with more at least 20 catches (22) and led the group with 366 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Schilens was dogged by an ankle injury but showed promise in catching 15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season.

This duo gives the Raiders something to work with. How the team surrounds their two young receivers will be key.

Walker is still under contract and Carter has expressed a desire to return in 2009. Ronald Curry expects to be released which would be the best for him and the team since he was being phased out before suffering a toe injury. Lelie hasn't shut the door on returning.

The Raiders need to find out if 2008 fourth-round draft choice Arman Shields (he spent the season on injured reserve) can contribute.

Todd Watkins and Jonathan Holland are also developing players that made their impact primarily on special teams in 2008.

This isn't to say if an elite receiver is available that the Raiders shouldn't be interested. Or if Michael Crabtree is there for the taking in the NFL Draft, the Raiders need to seriously consider picking him.

But if the Raiders don't dump millions on the best receiver on the market, or address the offensive line early in the draft, they'll be fine.

--Jason Jones

.


January 6, 2009
Gallery and who else?

Robert Gallery had the best season of his career in 2008.

Penalties weren't a problem. He looked good blocking defenders beyond the line of scrimmage.

Had Gallery been on a good team, talk of him being a Pro Bowl player wouldn't sound laughable.

Gallery's spot at left guard is one position on the offensive line the Raiders don't have to worry about.

Every other spot ... is anyone's guess at this point.

Center Jake Grove improved under Tom Cable, but can test the open market as a free agent. His backup was John Wade, who made a lot of money to be Grove's insurance policy because Grove was coming off knee surgery.

Right guard Cooper Carlisle can do the same.

Cornell Green isn't the long-term solution at right tackle.

And even though he ended the season as the starting left tackle, whether Mario Henderson can hold up over an entire season is unknown.

How the Raiders go about rebuilding the offensive line will have a lot to do with who is the head coach.

Retaining Cable or hiring someone that believes in zone blocking might lead to the team retaining some of the same players or upgrading with younger versions of Carlisle and Green.

The Raiders claimed tackle James Marten off waivers in September, but never used him in a game even as Green struggled. Henderson was given the opportunity to replace Kwame Harris, who struggled in pass protection and with false starts.

There are no young guards on the roster that would appear ready to step up opposite Gallery. Chris Morris (a restricted free agent) might be better suited to play center, not guard.

It was said Paul McQuistan could play guard or tackle in the zone-blocking scheme. So until a new coach is decided up, it's uncertain at to whether he'll be a guard or tackle in 2009.

McQuistan was lost early in the season with a knee injury.

The uncertainty means the Raiders could use multiple draft picks on offensive linemen and will need to look at adding some veteran depth in free agency.

But look for Gallery to be the leader of this group, no matter who the other starters are around him.

Next up in the season review, a look at the talent at the skill positions.

--Jason Jones

January 5, 2009
Raider drama never ceases

I spend my first computer-free day (well with the exception of checking out Facebook late last night) on my day off in a long time and log on to find email from fans worried the Raiders will be sold and moved to back to Los Angeles.

These fears were spurred by an ESPN report that Raiders owner Al Davis and team CEO Amy Trask were working on selling a portion of the team to a group led by billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos, who wants to put a team back in the L.A. market.

The Raiders vehemently denied the report.

I spoke with Trask this morning to receive clarification on a few things, but chief amongst those concerns were:

1. Is the team in financial straits?
2. Is the team planning to leave Oakland?

"No, no, no," Trask said.

A non-controlling share of the team (20 percent) was sold to a group of investors in October 2007.

*Nothing new on the search for the next Raiders head coach. Davis had a "conversation" with New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride over the phone, but it wasn't termed a job interview and was done at the request of Gilbride's agent, said Raiders executive John Herrera.

Herrera said in conversations with Davis, the owner has stated he doesn't want a long process in finding a new coach.

What qualifies as long is anyone's guess.

One long-rumored candidate - Jim Fassel - will interview for the St. Louis opening according to ESPN.

--Jason Jones

January 4, 2009
Russell proved Knapp right

In a conversation I had with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp early in the season I was curious about a few of things when it came to JaMarcus Russell.

But the main thing I wanted to know about was Russell's growth in the classroom. For every young player this is often the hardest area to grasp about the NFL. Knapp assured me Russell was doing fine in that area and that it would show in the second half of the season.

Here's the evidence that Knapp was right:

Russell's first seven games (before missing the Raiders eighth game with a knee injury)

105 for 216, 48.6%, 1,289 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs, 69.0 rating

Russell's final eight games

93 for 152, 61.2%, 1,134 yards, 7 TDs, 4 INTs, 88.5 rating

Russell managed to get better even as he endured having three different play callers during the season.

He improved greatly in reading NFL defenses and finding secondary receivers. The question is will having a fourth different person call plays hurt Russell's progress.

And if he's forced to learn a completely new offense, Russell might be in another slow start, strong finish mode in 2009.

--Jason Jones

January 3, 2009
Gilbride chats with Davis (or did he?)

I know this update could have come a lot sooner, but forgive me for having things to do on a Saturday...

It's known throughout the NFL that Raiders owner Al Davis spends a lot of time on the phone.

And according to the New York Daily News, Davis planned to speak with Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride about the Raiders head-coaching vacancy.

The NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports Davis' health is a reason the Raiders have been slow to interview candidates.

How Gilbride would work is anyone's guess.

I spoke with an NFL executive that his familiar with Gilbride and how he might fit with the Raiders. He wondered if Gilbride had the right personality to work with Davis.

Newsday reports Davis indeed spoke with Gilbride.

Gilbride will be off limits for interviews as of Monday until the Giants' season is over.

Gilbride has worked with two high draft picks at quarterback. He's been lauded for his most recent work with Eli Manning. But his handling of rookie Ryan Leaf in 1998 was part of the reason he was fired as head coach in San Diego. He only had Leaf for six games, but benched him twice during a four-game losing streak.

Another rumored candidate, Atlanta receivers coach Terry Robiskie, is now available to chat after the Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs today.

In the spirit of Jay-Z and Nas squashing their beef to work together, I'm rooting for the Raiders to make a call to Mike Shanahan.

--Jason Jones

January 1, 2009
Miller's returns pay off

Raiders kick returner Justin Miller was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for December.

Miller had 20 kick returns for 544 yards (27.2 average) and scored touchdowns against San Diego and New England.

Miller was claimed off waivers from the New York Jets on Nov. 12 and became the first Raider to return a kickoff for a touchdown since Dec. 28, 2003 with his scoring return against the Chargers.

Kicker Sebastian Janikowski (Sept. 2001) was the last Raider to win the award.

It might be Miller's only accolade as a Raider because he is a free agent. If Tyvon Branch is healthy the Raiders might opt to let Miller walk.

*Nothing new to report on the head coaching search. The Raiders are shooting down the names of any rumored candidate. But that's what teams looking for a new coach do.

--Jason Jones



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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