Firing Dennis Allen was just step one in rehabilitating a sick and ill franchise. The Oakland Raiders hired Tony Sparano, the offensive line coach for the team, as the interim head coach, which means he’s gone by the end of the season, unless by some miraculous way he conjures up wins from thin air and without a lot of talent.
What’s the real plan for the Raiders? The ultimate dream is bringing back Jon Gruden. Right now he works for ESPN on Monday Night Football, but Mark Davis would love to get Gruden back to the team he coached from 1998 to 2001, pretty much laying the foundations for the Super Bowl appearance a year later. It came against Gruden’s new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which made things a little weird.
But how difficult will it be to get Gruden back on the job, which probably means being the head coach and having the final say when it comes to personnel decisions? A big salary, one of the highest in the NFL, is a guarantee. But it’ll also be about having the right quarterback to work with, and Gruden does like Derek Carr. It’ll also be about putting together a winning team quickly, which doesn’t seem to be the case right now. That’s why Dennis Allen was fired, and why general manager Reggie McKenzie might be next.
There’s also the big cloud over the future of the organization that isn’t helping. Where are they going to play? Will the Raiders return to Los Angeles? There’s not going to be an expansion any time soon, but the NFL would love to get a team back there, for all of the complications it offers. There’s already one franchise in the bay area, the San Francisco 49ers, so there doesn’t seem to be huge pressure from the league on Davis to keep the team in Oakland, especially with the state of their current stadium.
So Sparano? Things went bad for Sparano very quickly. He had a great start to his Miami Dolphins career with the 11-5 season in 2008. But then came two 7-9 years which were acceptable. But the team kept going backwards, and he was fired in 2011 after starting the year at 4-9, not getting the chance to complete the season. His tenure as the offensive coordinator for the New York Jets was just as bad, leading him back to being an assistant head coach and also working with the offensive line for the Raiders.
Initially, it seemed like Sparano wasn’t interested in the interim job, knowing he’s just a place holder until the Raiders figure of someone they really want for the job. Sparano now has to try and bounce this team back from their 0-4 start. The Raiders have gone 8-28 under Dennis Allen, and are on a 10-game losing streak dating back to last season.