A smart coaching decision

The Oakland Raiders coaching search has already begun with several candidates on the short and long lists. While there are certainly some interesting options, one move would be smarter than the rest.

With defensive backs coach Chuck Pagano heading to North Carolina to take over the defensive coordinator position under Butch Davis, the Raiders are reportedly looking in-house first.

John Shoop, a relative bust as the offensive coordinator in place of Tom Walsh, will get a taste of Al Davis. Having failed in Chicago first, the odds of hiring him as the head coach seem remote.

Steve Sarkisian, an offensive assistant with USC who many would call the co-offensive coordinator with Lane Kiffin, spent the 2004 season as the quarterbacks' coach with the Oakland Raiders. His quarterbacks passed for more than 4,000 yards in 2004 as Oakland ranked eighth in passing in the NFL.

He reportedly will be the first potential coach to interview.

Dennis Green, fired by the Arizona Cardinals at the end of the year, may get a look. He has a solid relationship with Randy Moss from their time together in Minnesota.

Jim Fassel, the former head coach of the New York Giants, is an interesting option. But, Brian Billick in Baltimore fired him this year and another retread may not be the way to go.

If the Raiders really want to make a splash, the one and only target should be San Diego offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Cameron has three confirmed visits this week – Arizona, Miami and Atlanta. The Raiders should fall in line and make it impossible for him to leave.

"Our offensive staff and Cam Cameron in particular has an extensive background," Schottenheimer said. "He is one of the most creative stuff I have ever seen. To be honest, I have no idea how he comes up with some of that stuff.

"I don't know how many times in a game and I will say, ‘what do you got' and he will say, ‘If they do what I think they are going to do it is going to be a big one.' And a couple of times every game. It is remarkable. I don't know how he does it."

Hiring Cameron would accomplish a number of things:

He is a keen offensive mind that has led a San Diego team without a top-flight wide receiver to the top scoring mark in the league. Imagine what Cameron could do with Moss and Ronald Curry.

It would weaken a foe in the AFC West. Any time you can take talent, at any level, away from one of your rivals it would seem the wise thing to do.

He is well thought of in many circles as a coach, evaluator and stand up man. He would bring high character players and assistants to the team, something that is sorely needed.

Barring Cameron, the only other answer is Rob Ryan. Ryan turned around the Oakland defense and is highly respected by his players. His ability to get the most out of his players is a valuable asset that can't be denied.

Al Davis has been known to take a chance. He likes aspiring assistants. He likes the unconventional, at times. With Cameron or Ryan it isn't a chance and he will get his aspiring assistant. Drop the hammer quickly. The Raiders aren't as far away from competing as many would lead you to believe. The right coach would make that rise back to prominence come quicker.

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