A year in the making

Last year at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama a reporter asked Norv Turner about a particular player on his squad and he replied "Who?" It was clear at that moment that the Raiders needed a new coach but it took them a year to figure it out.

The player being asked about was Courtney Roby, a fast-rising wide receiver who went to the Tennessee Titans and contributed with 21 receptions for 289 yards and 22 kickoff returns after being selected in the third round.

"You are going to have to help me out with that one," Turner added in response to the follow-up on Roby. "If our receivers' coach was here, he could tell you all about him."

By contrast, another former Raider coach, Jon Gruden, spoke intelligently about every player he was asked about on his Senior Bowl roster.

The difference was clear and explains why Tampa Bay went on to the playoffs and Oakland suffered another dismal season.

Turner had no idea who he was coaching and relied too much on his coaching staff to detail their strengths and weaknesses. He didn't have a plan to implement.

His 4-12 season this past year – one that held promise at the beginning of the year with new additions LaMont Jordan and Randy Moss – pointed to his deficiencies.

And his 9-23 record over the last two years left a sour taste in the mouth of the proud franchise.

Now, Al Davis seeks the 15th head coach in franchise history with an eye on erasing the last two failures – Bill Callahan and Turner.

The onus, however, is on Davis for hiring Turner in the first place. Turner was overmatched, as witnessed by his 1-11 record against the AFC West. Failure to win in division – the fodder of bragging rights – provided the worst of Turner.

With a team that possesses talent, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, Davis and Raiders senior personnel chief Michael Lombardo will tread carefully in naming their new coach.

They expect the new head man to lead them back to prominence and can't afford another mistake. Working against them is the clock – the 2006 Senior Bowl is closing fast and a prime resource for dissecting the NFL Draft.

By the way, the reporter who asked Turner the question on Roby is in the room with you now.


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