As we all watch the Oakland Raiders‘ head coaching search unfold, we can’t forget an old friend, long time ago used to be Oakland’s head coach swung hard and missed harder at their top two candidates – Jon Gruden re-upped with ESPN and Jim Harbaugh left the NFL entirely for the University of Michigan – GM Reggie McKenzie and Raiders owner Mark Davis have already been doing their utmost to wing it on the fly. And the outcome have already been far from spectacular.
Oakland has interviewed San Francisco 49ers tight ends coach Eric Mangini, Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell – sort of – Philadelphia Eagles OC Pat Shurmur, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, Indianapolis Colts OC Pep Hamilton and are anticipated to interview Arizona Cardinals DC Todd Bowles at some point this week. And ok last one, in addition they gave interim head coach Tony Sparano time to produce his case for obtaining the interim tag dropped from his title on Wednesday.
The Raiders are obviously casting a broad net within their visit a permanent head coach to displace the long since departed Dennis Allen. But in that wide net, McKenzie and Davis inexplicably taken in an old, tired piece of debris – and a name that a lot of Oakland fans would much rather forget – Mike Shanahan.
Yes, that’s right, Mike Shanahan and Mark Davis are apparently mending the fences that had been burned down by the late Al Davis during Shanahan’s first disastrous tenure with the team.
Not only did McKenzie and Davis give Shanahan an interview, they even rolled out Hall of Famer John Madden to sit in on the festivities. Bevell didn’t even get that sort of pomp and circumstance. Heck, based on reports, Bevell didn’t even get to generally meet with Davis during his interview, not to mention the legendary Madden.
Obviously, McKenzie and Davis have both stated they’re buying a coach with experience and a track record of success. Undoubtedly, they looked over the pile of wins under his belt and the 2 Super Bowl rings on Shanahan’s hand and began drooling like Pavlov’s dog.
But it could be foolish – and potentially disastrous to the team – when they didn’t look at Shanahan’s numbers a bit more closely and a bit more critically.
Yes, Shanahan includes a career coaching record of 170-138 and is the owner of two Super Bowl rings. But a careful dissection of those numbers reveals that despite his success with the Denver Broncos, once John Elway retired after the 1998 season, Shanahan was an extremely average head coach. With Elway under center, Shanahan went 47-17 and appeared as if the genius he is purported to be. Without Elway as his quarterback, however, Shanahan is just a very pedestrian 123-121 and doesn’t look quite like the same genius.
Shanahan was a catastrophe in Washington, in the same way he was a catastrophe with the Raiders initially around. He’s an average coach who will thank Elway for his reputation and potentially for his career. Shanahan isn’t an awful coach, but he’s not really a great coach either. About the very best that may be said for him is that he’s an average football coach who enjoys an overinflated reputation. And both McKenzie and Davis must want a lot more than an average coach if they wish to be more than an average football team.
Shanahan’s first tenure with the Raiders did not end well, not only because he’s average, but because he doesn’t understand the Raider Way. He doesn’t understand the organization, doesn’t believe and embrace the history of the club and doesn’t tolerate people who do. Raiders fans saw that firsthand during his one season plus four games with the club. He never easily fit in, and worse, he never tried to. It’s ludicrous to trust that since his departure in 1989, Shanahan has created an appreciation for all things Raider.
Interviewing Shanahan – and rolling out Madden to accomplish it – took McKenzie and Davis’coaching search from not very confidence-inspiring to downright farcical. Their set of candidate interviews until now is laughable, and their utmost option may be to stick with the guy in house already. Until, their goal is usually to be average. If this is the case, by all means, restore Shanahan.