Hire new coach. Fire new coach. Bring in newer coach.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
This has been the cycle of life for the Oakland Raiders since Jon Gruden left town in 2002 and it’s just worked out swimmingly for the club, hasn’t it?
There was the two years of Bill Callahan (15-17). Then there was two years of Norv Turner (9-23). That was followed by the Art Shell experience (2-14), the Lane Kiffin era (5-15), the Tom Cable dynasty (17-27), the Hue Jackson cameo (8-8) and the Dennis Allen phenomenon (8-23).
Of that group, retrospective says that it was clear Callahan had to go, Shell never should have happened and Kiffin was a monumental error.
Ask people what it takes to have a successful football program at any level and one of the most common answers is continuity.
How in the world can the Raiders have any continuity if 44 games is the longest any system gets a chance to grow?
Cable went 8-8 in his final year (and 6-0 against the AFC West, for what it’s worth) and it earned him a pink slip. Jackson followed him with an 8-8 season and got run out of town at season’s end.
Go back and look at the most successful era in the history of the franchise. From 1966 to 1987, the Raiders were an NFL-best 219-93-8, won three Super Bowls and made the playoffs 15 times in 22 seasons.
Look back at that era and you’ll find three—just three—head coaches. John Rauch coached the Raiders from 1966-68 and was 33-8-1 with a 2-2 postseason record. From 1969-78, John Madden went 103-32-7, went 9-7 in the playoffs and brought the franchise its first Super Bowl title. After Madden retired, Tom Flores had the team from 1979-87 and was 83-53 and 8-3 in the playoffs with two Super Bowl rings.
Three coaches in 22 years. Madden was promoted from Rauch’s staff. Flores was promoted from Madden’s staff.
Since 1988, though, the Raiders have had 12 coaches in 26 seasons: Mike Shanahan, Art Shell, Mike White, Joe Bugel, Jon Gruden, Callahan, Turner, Shell again, Kiffin, Cable, Jackson and Allen.
That’s not continuity. It’s desperation almost to the level of throwing a dart at a board while blindfolded and hoping to hit the right spot.
Shell had some success in his five-plus seasons, reaching the playoffs three times and going to the AFC Championship once. Gruden made the playoffs in the final two years of his four-year stint and Callahan took the club he inherited from Gruden, went to the Super Bowl, and then alienated everyone in the East Bay in 2003.
The numbers say Allen’s tenure hasn’t been great. The Raiders were 26th in points and 28th in points allowed last season. They’ve improved to 25th in points and remained 28th in points allowed this season.
Coaches used to come in with what was called a “five-year plan.” The game has changed, but it’s still unrealistic to expect a coach to come in with a “five-game plan” to bring a franchise to respectability.