Friday, November 14, 2008

Another day, another mind-blowing drama for the Raiders

What do you get when you mix terrible decisions, horrible karma and over-the-top dysfunction into a giant cocktail and chug it down?

The Oakland Raiders, of course.

The Raiders have outdone themselves this year. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. Every time you think it can’t get worse or crazier, it does.

Here are seven mind-blowing Silver and Black dramas from a list that probably stretches into triple digits:

EXIT, STAGE LEFT: After just eight games, Raiders boss Al Davis cut cornerback DeAngelo Hall, his No. 1 off-season acquisition, last week. No problem. All it cost the Raiders was $8 million and a pair of draft choices for eight games. Did anyone scout this guy before closing that deal with the Atlanta Falcons? As it turns out, he’s not so good in man-to-man coverage, which the Raiders prefer. He’s more of a zone guy and a free-lancer. Who knew? Apparently not the Raiders.

ROB RYAN UNCUT: Who can forget defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s expletive-filled command performance for the media shortly after a Week 1 embarrassment against Denver. It came shortly after former coach Lane Kiffin tossed Ryan and Davis under the bus for the defense’s meltdown. Undoubtedly following Davis’ orders, Ryan met the press and fired back at Kiffin. Buddy Ryan must be proud of his son’s mastery of colorful language.

KIFFIN GOES DOWN FIGHTING: Kiffin was canned after just four games, but he knew he was doomed since the end of last season when he wanted to fire Ryan but was overruled by Davis. Kiffin didn’t go quietly into unemployment. He spent much of the offseason, training camp and early season publicly zinging Davis for his personnel decisions. Most Raiders coaches kowtow to Davis. Kiffin stood up to him and revealed some of the organizational dysfunction that has hurt the franchise. If nothing else, it was fascinating theater of the absurd.

AL DAVIS MEETS THE PRESS: Davis didn’t just fire Kiffin. He tried to publicly humiliate him in one of the strangest press conferences in the history of sports. Have you ever heard of an NFL owner cueing the overhead projector then reading, line by line, a letter he had sent to his former coach? Davis aired more dirty laundry than the team collects after playing a game in the mud. Of course his intent was to make a case for firing Kiffin with cause and stiffing him out of the remainder of his salary.

THE CABLE GUY TAKES OVER: After firing Kiffin, Davis promoted offensive line coach Tom Cable to interim coach, bypassing Ryan, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and running backs coach Tom Rathman, among others. What, Tim the Tool Man wasn’t available. OK, cheap shot. Cable might turn out to be a great head coach. His 1-4 record to date says maybe not.

NOT SO BIG CATCH: Davis thought he struck free-agent gold when he signed former Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker to six-year, $55 million deal, despite Walker’s history of injuries. Not long after the ink dried on that contract, Walker was mugged in Las Vegas (more bad karma?) then decided to retire and return his $11 million signing bonus. Davis talked him out it. Talk about one bad decision deserving another. Walker caught just 15 passes before suffering a season-ending ankle injury last week against Carolina.

CABLE'S POWER GRAB: In the wake of an embarrassing 24-0 loss to Atlanta in which the Raiders had just three first downs, Cable stripped Knapp of his play-calling job and took on that duty. Makes sense. Cable called a few plays as a college coach. Knapp called plays for three NFL teams, the 49ers, Falcons and Raiders. Cable said he made the call to demote Knapp. Yeah, right. There’s no way Cable makes a decision this big without getting Al’s OK. That would have been Kiffian. I’d be willing to bet that Al told Cable to sack Knapp after that humiliating loss. So let’s see. Cable is now the interim head coach, offensive line coach and chief play-caller. What next? Specials teams coach? In Cable’s play-calling debut, the Raiders had 17 first downs but scored just six points against Carolina.

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