Raiders coaching search continues

Kevin Gilbride. Winston Moss. Tom Cable. The list of candidates to be the Raiders next full-time head coach isn't exactly a lengthy one right now. It's also one devoid of any real solid choice to be a long-term solution to Oakland's problems, something owner Al Davis has to be contemplating as he makes his decision.

Gilbride, who was reportedly in town Thursday for a formal sit-down interview with Davis, has been lauded for his work as offensive coordinator of the New York Giants. In particular, Gilbride's ability to effectively incorporate three running backs into the Giants' system is what has made him a popular candidate among the national media.

But Gilbride -- who is still best known for being the guy who took a Buddy Ryan right hand to the head in 1993 -- has also been the subject of some serious criticism and scorn from Giants fans, many of whom blamed him for New York's collapse in its playoff loss to Philadelphia.

To his credit, Gilbride is credited with helping the development of Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who stepped out of the shadow of older brother Peyton and guided New York to the Super Bowl championship a year ago. Gilbride also helped improve Buffalo's offense set numerous franchise records during his two seasons with the Bills.

Being a good coordinator doesn't necessarily translate into being a good head coach, however. Norv Turner is a prime example of that. Same goes for Mike Nolan, Bill Callahan, etc.

Gilbride's previous stint as an NFL head coach was with San Diego from 1997-98. Disastrous might be the best word to describe it. The Chargers went 6-16, ranked 26th or worse in scoring and were 24th or worse in total offense. He was fired six games into the ‘98 season and replaced by June Jones, who lasted the remainder of the season before San Diego hired Mike Riley.

Moss would seem to be the most interesting pick of the lot because of the unknown factor. He's never been a head coach at the NFL level and so there's really no gauging how he'd fare. It would be a risk to hire him, to be sure, but so was Davis' decision to hire Jon Gruden when no other teams were taking a serious look at him.

The former Raiders linebacker already interviewed with Davis earlier this week, but given his defensive background -- he's coached primarily linebackers with the Packers, though he's also Green Bay's assistant head coach -- he's probably the longest shot of the three. Davis prefers to hire head coaches who have backgrounds on the offensive side.

While he hasn't been ruled out, it's more likely Davis was trying to get a feel for him as a potential replacement for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who is all but certain to join Cleveland's staff.

Cable certainly helped his cause when Oakland won its final two games and knocked Tampa Bay out of playoff contention as a result. He played the role of company soldier perfectly, taking the blame when things went wrong while deflecting attention to the players when things went right.

But Cable's mistakes were glaring. The botched fake field goal against Kansas City. Keeping rookie sensation Darren McFadden on the bench and out of games for long, long stretches. Pressing JaMarcus Russell into passing more even though the pass protection around him was weak.

What the Raiders need is a young, energetic coach who is able to work cohesively with Davis and at the same time maintain respect in the locker room. Lane Kiffin, who seemed to be a solid fit in Oakland, could only accomplish half of that equation which is why he was given the boot.

Davis has had a knack for uncovering gems like this in the past. People forget he was one of the first owners to actively pursue Sean Payton and actually offered Payton a job before the former Dallas assistant was persuaded to stay with the Cowboys. Payton eventually was hired by New Orleans and was named NFL Coach of the Year in 2006.

That's exactly the type of coach the Raiders need now. They don't have one on their short list of candidates, or if they do, they haven't revealed it. But Davis is as shrewd as they come and may have a trick or two up his sleeve.

In the meantime, the waiting continues.


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