So much for optimism.
Trying my best to keep the rose-colored glasses from sliding off my face while previewing the Raiders’ season opener a week ago, I focused primarily on the potential of the 2008 Raiders between the lines. I noted the multitude of weapons at Lane Kiffin’s disposal, and how they were going to put up points in bunches this season, while improving drastically on the defensive side as well.
Cue the laugh track here.
While they showed some improvement in Sunday’s win over the Chiefs, at the time of this writing, word is flying around the Bay Area and all throughout the league that Kiffin is about to get what he wants: a pink slip from Al Davis.
Ever since Davis and Kiffin had their much-publicized blowup over defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in the offseason, in which Davis reportedly drew up a resignation letter that Kiffin refused to sign, we knew there was trouble. As the new season approached, however, it appeared that the owner and both coaches were willing to put the bad episode behind them and work toward a winning 2008.
Then came the Broncos, the humiliation of Monday night’s opener, and the dueling press conferences that aired out every piece of dirty laundry in Alameda.
Did Kiffin act professionally by throwing Ryan under the bus for Monday night’s defensive debacle, and for announcing to the media that Ryan acts on the direct orders of Davis himself when devising strategy? No. He acted like a coach who wants to be fired.
Was Ryan any better when he fired back in his profanity-laced tirade, disputing the notion that he’s Davis’ personal puppet? Marginally. At least he took the blame for the disaster against Denver.
Will Davis, who is likely responsible for the entire mess, be doing the right thing when he fires Kiffin — whether it’s today, in 2 weeks or at the end of the season? Strangely enough, yes.
That’s not to say this entire thing is Kiffin’s fault, because it isn’t. He wanted to hire a new defensive coordinator in the offseason, and Davis wouldn’t let him. He completely removed any autonomy the coach thought he had, and no one wants to work under those conditions. Kiffin is just the latest in a long line of Raider coaches who were not allowed to do their jobs without the constant interference of the Coach In Chief — Davis. The only difference between Kiffin and the rest of them is that Kiffin went public.
And that’s why Davis has to fire him.
By going to the media and the fans with his direct condemnation of Ryan’s coaching ability and Davis’ meddling in the game plans, Kiffin has effectively fired himself.
If he isn’t fired this week, don’t be surprised if he pulls a George Costanza by next Sunday. Costanza, begging on “Seinfeld” to be fired by the Yankees so he could take a job with the Mets, once tied one of George Steinbrenner’s World Series trophies to his bumper and dragged it all over the Yankees’ parking lot.
Davis should watch the trophy case closely this week.
Sports personality Bob Frantz is a regular contributor to The Examiner. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.