Since a return to Oakland in 1995, a span of fifteen seasons, the Oakland Raiders seemed to have gone astray from their slogan of “A Commitment to Excellence.” There has just been three winning seasons in Oakland since 1995, although one of those seasons did include a trip to Super Bowl XXXVII (a 48-21 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). But since that trip to the Super Bowl, the Raiders have failed to win more than five games in a season. A failed string of coaches and player acquisitions have been at the forefront of the blame of owner Al Davis.
Coaches during the time period after the Super Bowl include Bill Callahan (whom lead the Raiders to the Super Bowl in his first year as a head coach, following the departure of Jon Gruden, who lead the Bucs to the victory over the Raiders), Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, and current coach Tom Cable. Cable was also in the conversation last season of being fired. Despite being criticized as Kiffin’s replacement midway through the 2008 season, Cable does seem to have the respect of many of his players, despite stories of problems with other members of his coaching staff. The Raiders are 9-19 under Cable, which is actually a step in the right direction for this dormant franchise.
But coaching changes have not been the only criticism in Oakland, a string of bad personnel moves by Davis has also drawn criticism. WR Randy Moss was acquired for LB Napoleon Harris, the Raiders 2004 first round pick (7th overall – Troy Williamson) and their seventh round pick. Moss was a bust in two seasons in Oakland, and was then traded for a fourth round pick to the Patriots in 2007, where Moss has gone on to shine with a record breaking season. There was also the acquisition of DB DeAngelo Hall for a second and fifth round pick in the 2008 draft. Hall was then signed to a seven-year $70 million deal prior to the 2008 season. Hall was then released after eight games into the season, for “failing to adapt to the Raiders system”. Also prior to the 2008 season, safety Gibril Wilson signed a six-year $39 million contract with the Raiders, only to be released after one season. And also prior to that 2008 season, Davis signed WR Javon Walker to a six-year $55million deal. Walker played a total of eleven games for the Raiders, starting seven, compiling fifteen catches for 196 yards and a touchdown. But the criticism is not just on veteran acquisitions, high first round picks have failed to live up to the hype including QB JaMarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, and Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Acquiring Donovan McNabb could help silence the critics of Davis for the time being. McNabb would give the Raiders the elite quarterback they have lacked since the retirement of Rich Gannon prior to the 2005 season. McNabb has the arm to run the deep passing game that Davis is infamous for promoting with his team. Although none of those failed veteran acquisitions are still around, McNabb could help those first round picks live up to their potential. McFadden, who will enter the 2010 season at twenty-three years of age, arguably has more athletic ability than Brian Westbrook (McNabb’s main counterpart at RB in Philly) had in the prime of his career. McFadden has the ability to be a dual threat out of the backfield, like Westbrook, and proved in college that he has the ability to make some big plays. Heyward-Bey, perhaps the most criticized picks at the time of the selection, has the speed Davis desires from his WRs. McNabb just had a successful season with another fast WR in DeSean Jackson. Perhaps the numbers that Jackson put up are far too lofty of expectations, but similar output is possible as Heyward-Bey does have the talent to find success in the NFL. Finally, there is Russell, who would find himself back on the bench with the acquisition of McNabb. But McNabb is not the most durable QB, so Russell may find himself some playing time. But with a similar build to Donovan, albeit a bit heavier, perhaps McNabb could provide the tutelage, and light a fire under the young QB, so that he can make strides towards living up to his pre-draft potential. Another player who should prosper with the possible acquisition of McNabb would be TE Zach Miller. Miller has shown the ability to excel in the NFL in the past, and McNabb has shown the ability to find his TEs. With McNabb under huddle, Miller could become one of the top TEs in the NFL in 2010.
A trade for McNabb would finally bring some stability to the QB position in Oakland, and could help diminish, for a time, talks of a string of bad acquisitions in Oakland. McNabb has the ability to make the players around him better, as he has done for eleven years in Philadelphia. And in the weak AFC West, making a play for a wildcard spot in 2010 is possible. If owner Al Davis wants to continue to promote “A Commitment to Excellence,” a trade for McNabb is a must.