State of the Raiders: Special Teams/Coaching

Mike Wagaman concludes his series on S&BI's plan to remake the Raiders with a look at special teams and the coaching staff.


Looking back: It's hard to imagine any kicking tandem better in the NFL than Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski. Lechler had yet another spectacular season and was named to his fifth Pro Bowl while Jano had the best year of his career, going 26 of 29 including a team-record 61-yard field goal against Cleveland. The coverage units were improved but the return game never got going. Johnnie Lee Higgins took a big hit in the season-opening loss to San Diego and took half a season to get over it, while four different players were tried at kickoff returner with little success.

Grade: B+

Our plan: If it's not broke there's no reason to fix it, so the Raiders don't need to tamper with the kicking part of things. Heck, long-snapper Jon Condo even earned a trip to the Pro Bowl. But the return game definitely needs upgrading. Higgins has shown he can be dynamic in the role and deserves another year, though expect Nick Miller to get a long look at both return spots. He missed all of 2009 with an injured foot yet managed to stay on the 53-man roster the entire season, so that tells you what Davis thinks of him.


Looking back: Tom Cable went through more in the last 12 months than most NFL head coaches have to endure in a lifetime. From accusations of physical abuse by a former assistant to charges of domestic abuse from an ex-wife to the nearly three-week period after the season ended when his job security was in doubt, Cable saw it all. He somehow survived and, in maybe the biggest feather in his cap, kept the players behind him. Still, he spread himself way too thin while serving as the head coach, play-caller and line coach. Defensive coordinator John Marshall did about the best he could with what he had and the limitations put on him by Davis.

Grade: C

Our plan: Bringing in Hue Jackson as the offensive coordinator settles one major issue. Marshall would be better suited if Davis backed off and let him call the defenses the way he prefers — with a heavy dose of blitzing thrown in like the Raiders did against Philadelphia — but that's just a pipedream for now. Jackson is the key, though. Cable always seemed over his head as a play-caller and can now devote more time back to the line and other areas of the team. Jackson's main job will be working to get JaMarcus Russell's career back on track.

SB Report Top Stories