The latest Raiders scapegoat, er, coach, Lane Kiffin will age rapidly as the Raiders decide their next important question: What should they do with receivers Jerry Porter and Randy Moss?
Kiffin will have no impact on the decision. The only thing he knows about the Raiders and the NFL is what he learned from watching game videos the night before his hiring was announced.
As usual, it will be Al Davis making the decisions — and more alone than ever.
In earlier years, Davis was willing to listen to others, even his coaches, and the Raiders were successful. Now, Davis listensonly to himself — nobody else from the Raiders’ organization even sat in on his interviews with possible new coaches — and the Raiders have an NFL-worst 15-49 record over the last four years and were an NFL-worst 2-14 last season.
Davis is the only one who can’t make the connection between the change in his methods and the change in results.
Porter virtually lost a season because fired coach Art Shell stubbornly and foolishly drew a line in the sand when Porter didn’t take part in offseason workouts at the Raiders facility in Alameda. He worked out instead at his Florida home and reported in top physical condition. That didn’t matter to Shell, who first made him inactive, then suspended him for four games. The suspension was cut to two games but when Porter returned, he was hardly used. He finally went on the disabled list with a phantom injury.
Moss was Moss. When the season first started going south, he started short-arming passes and not running out routes. Then, he went on the radio and admitted he was doing it, and that he wanted to be traded. None of that should be surprising. This has been Moss’s pattern throughout his career, which is why the Minnesota Vikings practically gave him away in the trade with the Raiders.
What should happen next and what probably will happen are two different things.
The Raiders should work with Porter to bring him back into the team. They need him. Porter is a very good receiver who led the Raiders in receptions in the previous two seasons. He is temperamental but not destructive. He was willing to move past the original confrontation with Shell, but Shell could not. Kiffin shouldn’t have that problem because he knows how athletes are today and doesn’t expect them to act like players from the ’70s.
The Raiders should also find a way to move Moss. He’s never going to change and, despite his obvious talent, he’s disruptive to the team because nobody but Randy knows when he’s going to give his best effort. Last season, the answer usually was rarely.
But it will be Davis making the decisions, and his ego is heavily invested in Moss. Davis would be tacitly admitting it was a mistake to trade for Moss and Davis admits mistakes, well, basically never.
Porter has also been a Davis favorite, but if push comes to shove, it will be Porter who will go and Moss who will stay.
The new coach is only 31, and he has the enthusiasm and ignorance of youth.
He has no idea what he’s getting into, but he’ll soon find out. By the end of the season, he’ll feel like he’s 50.