Ryan can't possibly feel safe

When you've endured a disappointing 4-9 season, like the Oakland Raiders, there's plenty of blame to go around. The Oakland Raiders, who host the Tennessee Titans Sunday, would have to win each of their last three games to avoid a second straight losing season with losses in double-digits. Since Al Davis has become the owner, none of the three coaches survived double-digit loss seasons. Not Tom Flores (1987). Not Joe Bugel (1997). And not Bill Callahan (2003).

Norv Turner has a couple of things going for him but that doesn't necessarily mean he won't be on shaky ground. Turner favors an offense that Davis covets. The Raiders do not have the in-house squabbling that took place last season. On the surface the players are supporting their coaches but it begs the question. Are they sincere in their support? Or did they realize that after last year's disaster it's in their best interest not to do so?

"We've got a lot of good talent," Raider safety Ray Buchanan said. "I think we have guys that care. You see that the teams that get better are the ones that keep guys around. I've always believed that a coach should get at least two shots. One shot is kind of hard and then players get to know their coaches."

One coach who certainly cannot feel safe is first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who came highly recommended after helping the New England Patriots to their second Super Bowl. The Raiders had high hopes after bringing the son of Buddy Ryan aboard.

Oakland's defense was dead-last against the run last season and 30th in total defense. The Raiders defense has only been marginally better, 25th against the run and 28th overall despite making wholesale changes that included defensive tackles Ted Washington and Warren Sapp. Granted, Ryan is not entirely at fault but the 2004 Raiders defensive performance was not what the team envisioned when bringing Ryan on board.

"Yeah, I'm concerned," Buchanan said of the likelihood of Ryan not being brought back. "Because I know what Rob has to offer within this defense. It can get kind of complicated. Sometimes the owner says ‘Alright, you can't get your players to respond to what you're doing.' Then it can become a problem. I look at it the other way around, as the players making the coaches look good. Inside this locker room, we know who to blame. But we're not the types to be sitting here pointing fingers. I'm not the type to go ratting out my players. Rob's getting the short end of the stick, especially here where the expectations are so high and not everybody is looking into the facts. They want to blame Rob, but nobody wants to look at some of the players that are messing up. I always believed a coach should get at least two shots. One shot (year) is kind of hard."

Raiders right to ink Janikowski long term

The five-year contract extension for Oakland placekicker Sebastian Janikowski has been finalized and was, frankly, the right move.

The five-year deal is worth $10.5 million dollars, making Janikowski the highest paid kicker in the NFL.

Janikowski had exceeded performance incentives in his previous contract that allowed him to void the next three seasons, making him eligible for free agency in March.

In return, the Raiders have included clauses in the extension that protect the team in the event the Polish-born kicker gets into additional trouble with the law.

Since the Raiders made him the 17th pick overall in the 2000 NFL Draft out of Florida State, Janikowski, 26, has been jailed briefly on suspicion of misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor vandalism and public drunkenness.

This season, Janikowski has connected on 19-of-22 field-goal attempts, including a 50-yarder and a 52-yarder.

Many people might wince at giving a kicker a high payload but it's worth it in Janikowski's case. For starters, look at all the games being decided by three points or less. Secondly, if the Raiders would have waited, they might have had to overpay to keep him.

Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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