For Raiders, the buck still stops with Davis

Adam Schein / Special to
Posted: 2 hours ago

It's official; the Raiders are a joke.

Now this isn't an anti-Art Shell statement. It's an opinion based on the botched process. Al Davis is coaching the Raiders, and he is installing Shell as his puppet.

Warren Sapp told me last year that Davis called the coaches after the season opening loss to the Patriots and told the defensive staff to stop playing the 3-4 defense. Guess what? They shifted to the 4-3.

According to Sapp, it was Davis who benched Kerry Collins, then insisted on getting him back in the line-up.

And as a result, the coaching search was an embarrassment. Nobody wanted this job. The Raiders, loaded with history and tradition, are now viewed as a dead-end team and a dead-end job in the coaching fraternity.

No coaching candidate wants to be told who his defensive coordinator (Assistant Rob Ryan was signed to a 3-year deal before Davis named Shell as the head coach.) and wide receivers coach is. No coaching candidate wants the owner making lineup decisions.

As a result, the Raiders missed out on several top flight assistant coaches who got jobs with other teams. And the Raiders really missed out on Steelers offensive coordinator Kenny Whisenhunt, who was startled by the lack of control he would have if he took the gig.

And you know it is bad when the Louisville coach turns down a 5 year, $18 million dollar deal to coach your team. With all due respect to the very-respected Bobby Petrino, it is not as if he is coaching USC, Texas, Notre Dame, Florida or Florida State.

And you know it is worse when Davis refers to him as Bernard Petrino during a press conference.

Perhaps this is a crazy thought, but maybe it would've been nice if the new coach was in place during senior bowl week? Remember that's where former Raiders coach Jon Gruden fell in love with running back Cadillac Williams last year, and that worked out pretty well.

Oakland is now behind in scouting for the draft. Shouldn't the head coach be familiar with the players he will draft?

Now we have Raiders fans applauding the move, getting back to Raider football.


That's nonsense.

Shell is going to do whatever Davis wants. And that has to make you scared as a Raider fan. It's not as if his playbook was so outstanding the first time he coached the Raiders. And I know he went 56-41, but how did that end up? And why did he not get another head coaching gig?

You know how many Raiders fans emailed me saying they wanted Art Shell when I wrote an in-season column saying Norv Turner should be fired? You know how many Raiders fans called my radio show wanting Shell?


Don't let the fact that Shell was a great Raiders player fool you. This was an embarrassing search, and Shell was deep down on Davis' list. Perhaps you could sell me on the move, if Davis hired him in early January.

Shell is nothing more than a major fall-back option.

An option somewhere behind both Bernard and Bobby Petrino.

Nine nuggets of wisdom

1. As first reported by our Jay Glazer, the Titans are on the cusp of re-upping with Pro Bowl defensive end Kyle VandenBosch, giving him about $15 million bucks in guaranteed money over 4 years. Not too shabby for a ballplayer playing for the league minimum last season. VandenBosch is not a flash in the pan. All he needed to do was stay healthy to reach his potential as a play-making sack master.

After years of big name salary cap cuts around this time, this gives Titans fans something to feel good about.

2. In spending time chatting with Shaun Alexander's agent Jim Steiner, the MVP's rep made it clear that he believes his client is the best running back in the league and should be paid accordingly with the Clinton Portis and LaDainian Tomlinson contracts as barometers. Steiner initiated talks with Seattle negotiator Mike Reinfeldt earlier this week with a proposal. He is waiting to hear back. Alexander's main goal is to be back in Seattle, but the deal has to be right. Steiner listed the ability to win, an offensive line, coaching staff, and of course money, as Alexander's top priorities in free agency, while also stating geography plays no part in the decision.

If Alexander leaves via free agency, I see no way the Seahawks win 13 games next year or gain the top seed for the NFC playoffs. I wrote a column in October outlining why Alexander deserves the money. An MVP season only illustrates the point.

Steiner, even with a depressed market last season for running backs, believes the free agency bidding would be very strong for Alexander. It didn't hurt his pitch when Alexander raved about the Carolina coaching staff during the Pro Bowl.

I still believe Alexander will return to the Seahawks next year.

Stay tuned.

3. Panthers general manager Marty Hurney wouldn't comment directly when asked on our radio show on the Alexander rumors, but did stress how important the position of running back is in the Dan Henning offense. Hurney also stated that the team wants to bring back DeShaun Foster and linebacker Will Witherspoon, with the defensive standout the top priority. I would be very surprised if Foster signed an extension before free agency started. This would give Carolina a chance to see if Alexander or Edgerrin James will be available. One of those running backs could make the Panthers the Super Bowl favorite for next season.

4. If Vince Young doesn't throw at the combine next week in Indy; he is making a major mistake. It's not even so much that he won't compete (I think the combines are a tad overrated), it's that he said he was going to. Young now looks fickle and immature in toying with the idea not to.

You wonder if he is getting bad advice after surrounding himself with an unknown agent in Major Adams, and his uncle Keith Young as his business manager, who also doubles as a middle school teacher.

Perhaps Young got nervous to chuck the ball after losing in a college all-star challenge in both a target throwing competition and a distance skills test to Drew Olson and Brodie Croyle respectively.

5. According to Chad Johnson, the three best cornerbacks in the NFL are Champ Bailey, Al Harris, and Nate Clements. So there was no surprise when Marv Levy called the free agent defensive back a "high priority" to bring back to lovely Western New York. But the issue will be whether or not Clements gets a long term mega-buck deal or gets a one-year, $5.9 million dollar deal via the franchise tag.

While Clements' agent Todd France wants a Bailey-esque contract to the tune of around 7-years, $63 million and an $18 million dollar signing bonus, Levy is likely to issue the latter.

6. Giants coach Tom Coughlin tells us that linebacker Antonio Pierce, coming off a season-ending ankle sprain, should be physically ready for the Giants' off-season training program.

7. Two off-seasons ago, Kurt Warner didn't have a job after being cut by the Rams. This past week, the Cardinals give the quarterback a three-year deal that will allow him to earn $15-23 million.

While I'm skeptical about the three years, I can understand why the Cardinals want to bring back the veteran team leader for 2006. Their young star receivers, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, like playing with him. But Arizona has to brace for injuries and for the future. With Josh McCown leaving as a free agent, the Cardinals need a legit veteran backup behind Warner.

Former Michigan star Jon Navarre and Rohan Davey don't cut it.

Arizona should also consider selecting and grooming a youngster at some point in the draft. Someone like Omar Jacobs would make sense.

And before the Cardinals address the running back position with the $20 million or so they have in cap room, Denny Green and Rod Graves need to address the turnstile-like offensive line in free agency.

By the way, there are those who believe McCown is the next Jake Delhomme. I think McCown is one of the top 32 quarterbacks in the NFL. Teams like Baltimore, Oakland, Detroit, New Orleans, among others, should take a long look at him.

8. Kevin Acee reported in the San Diego Tribune this week that Chargers General Manager AJ Smith is considering letting Drew Brees test the free agency waters, with the hope that the quarterback will crawl back to San Diego with a lukewarm market.

I see no chance that happens. That would be a horrendous miscalculation by Smith.

If Brees goes into free agency, I'll be stunned if he ever sniffs San Diego again. And Nick Saban and the Dolphins would be a perfect destination. Brees had tremendous success in 2004 playing behind Hudson Houck's offensive line when Houck coached in San Diego.

If the Chargers do the wise thing and retain Brees, I would give up my first round pick to get Matt Schaub if I was Nick Saban.

9. Terrell Owens signs a deal to do a reality television show. The King of Clueless is officially back. Doesn't he realize that nobody has interest in watching him unless he is catching footballs on Sundays?

And if you were a coach (Mike Shanahan) or general manager thinking about Owens, which would be a grotesque mistake in the first place, why would you want the team-killing sideshow now?

Adam Schein hosts the Afternoon Blitz on Sirius NFL Radio with Hall of Famer John Riggins from 3-7 Eastern Time. E-mail him at