Oakland Raiders: Just wince, baby!
When Al Davis fired coach Lane Kiffin just four games into the season, one of the things the Raiders owner complained about was Kiffin's inability to put points on the scoreboard.
Now, the Raiders might look at the Kiffin era as the good old days.
Under Kiffin this season, Oakland averaged 19.5 points a game. In four games under replacement Coach Tom Cable, the Raiders have averaged 7.2.
The latest Raiders news is their decision to release big-money cornerback DeAngelo Hall just eight games into his first season with the team. I understand the concept of cutting your losses, it's just that Davis typically hangs onto players too long, especially if they seem to embrace the Raiders way. Over the years, players have quietly called that being on scholarship. Well, Al did dump Randy Moss pretty quickly, but that didn't work out so well.
Back to Hall. The Raiders gave up a ton for him -- a second-round pick in last spring's draft, and a fifth-rounder in 2009. And remember, that wasn't just a run-of-the-mill second-rounder but the 34th overall selection, almost like a late first-rounder. (Atlanta wound up trading that to Washington -- where, incidentally, Hall could wind up -- and the Redskins used it on Michigan State receiver Devin Thomas.)
The decision to drop Hall didn't sit so well with at least two of his teammates. According to
Jerry McDonald's must-read Raiders blog on the Oakland Tribune's website, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and safety Gibril Wilson were not happy at all about the move and told reporters so Wednesday after practice.
"He had eight games to prove himself which is what really got me," said Asomugha, whom the Raiders had best not alienate if they want to sign him to a long-term deal. "I was sitting at home last night, watching the election and all that and excited, and then he calls me, hurt. He wanted to finish out the season here and he told me he was getting cut and it was just shocking. I couldn't make any sense of it. He had eight games to prove himself. I don't think that was enough.
"I do know that guys, after seeing that, it's not one of those things that is making guys go out and want to play harder. It's one of those things that guys are looking at like, `I could be next, so let me not make a mistake.' That's a difficult thing to play with on Sundays."
Cable said the message he wants to send is the Raiders are serious about the second half of the season. But that's not how Wilson reads it.
"It's almost like we're throwing in the towel," the safety said. "We have eight games to go and we're two games down in the division. All we need to do is get on a roll in November and the next thing you know we're back in this thing."
Wilson knows how teams can come back to life. He played for the left-for-dead New York Giants last season, and they won the Super Bowl.
-- Sam Farmer
Photo: DeAngelo Hall. Credit: Eric Risberg / Associated Press