Kiffin sets priorities - quarterback

The Oakland Raiders kept five coaches from the previous regime. Head coach Lane Kiffin brought in 16 of his own men – having to deal with the late signing made that a challenge for the coach.

The first order of business upon his hiring was getting to the Senior Bowl. It wasn't to look at players. Kiffin went down to Mobile, Alabama to secure the rest of his staff.

"Most people think you would've (gone) to the Senior Bowl to look at players," said Kiffin. "But that's all on film; I can do that later."

Instead of watching practice, Kiffin had a room setup underneath the stadium to conduct interviews. Potential employees lined up outside the door to try and secure a job.

There was a chalkboard in the room and that is where Greg Knapp essentially became the first hire.

And it was the most crucial hire, according to Kiffin, despite Kiffin saying he would call the plays.

"I'm going to have a lot to do with the offense, be in charge of the offense and call plays, but at the same time you've got to manage the game and you've also got to manage your team throughout the week," Kiffin explained. "I did not want to dive in to where I was doing all the offense and I was running every single meeting.

"Being a young head coach, I thought it was important that I had enough time to know your players and get to know them on an individual basis. Every day, interaction with them. Sometimes you can get lost in the football part of it, and all of a sudden your team is doing so much football you don't get to know your players. That was a very important hire for me - somebody who had been in the league for 12 years, coached quarterbacks for 12 years - nine of the years his quarterbacks went to the Pro Bowl. Obviously, he's got a great track record with quarterbacks."

An interesting assessment considering the Raiders current quandry at the position.

Knapp is heralded as a top-flight quarterback's coach. He has had a quarterback named to the Pro Bowl in nine of the 12 seasons he has coached in the NFL, including Michael Vick, Jeff Garcia and Steve Young.

His challenge will be bringing the Raiders quarterback of the future into Pro Bowl worthy consideration – no easy task given the ineptness in which the quarterbacks have performed in Oakland over the last several years.

When the rest of the staff heads home, Kiffin and Knapp are talking up their offensive philosophies.

While they differ on some views, the team of two hopes to bring it altogether on the field of play when the real action begins.

"He's a quarterback guru in my opinion," Knapp acknowledged. "That's the leader of your team. And with our team especially, it's not somebody who's been in place."

Whether it is Andrew Walter, David Carr, Josh McCown, Jamarcus Russell, or a combination, if Kiffin and Knapp are this dedicated to the trade, it can only mean progress for the franchise. It seems almost foreign to have two parties working together but that is exactly what is transpiring.

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