In the famous words of the greatest wrestling commentator of all time, Jim Ross, the Las Vegas Raiders went through Hellfire and Brimstone to reach the 2022 NFL playoffs.
After a 1-5 skid left them at 6-7, the assignment was cut and dry; win your remaining four games or face a sixth straight year without a postseason berth. This would be a tall enough task for a seasoned head coach. This edict, however, fell into the lap of interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, the beloved special teams coach who was finally given the opportunity to lead a franchise, albeit on the heels of a headline-grabbing scandal that would be closely followed by a sorrow-inducing tragedy. Yet, against all odds, when the clock struck midnight on the regular season, the Raiders were still at the dance while the Orphanage Chargers morphed into pumpkins on the national stage.
The players all revere and openly speak fondly of him. Current general manager Mike Mayock called him the best leader of men he’d ever been around. The media has also begun to laud his short stay with praise. Some have even asked if he deserves Coach of the Year considerations (the answer is no, but it’s a nice thought). At this point, it should be a foregone conclusion that Bisaccia is the next full-time coach of the Raiders.
Or should it?
The Raiders Were Recently In This Position
Remember when the Raiders were considering bringing in the Shanahans to coach in Oakland? Greg Papa sure does. That overdose of homerism led the Raiders to avoid Mike Shanahan (and, by default, Kyle) in favor of former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio.
Del Rio led the Jacksonville Jaguars to a few playoff berths before the walls caved in and he was rightfully jettisoned. His Oakland tenure wouldn’t stray far from this blueprint; after leading the franchise to a 12-4 record in 2016, Mark Davis was eager to give JDR a big four-year contract extension. The Raiders finished 6-10 in 2017, and Del Rio had the dubious honor of publicly firing himself after a Week 17 thrashing by the Chargers.
Why did we need to take that painful trip down memory lane? Because while the Raiders were picking up failed head coaches off the scrapheap and out of the MNF booth, they missed out on innovative names like the aforementioned Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay. The last thing the Raiders need is for them to take a short-sighted approach to this search.
You Could Always Ask The Browns
Cleveland was happy to anoint offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens with a full-time head coaching job. The roster loved him and he was credited with big developments in the game of quarterback Baker Mayfield. Kitchens was fired from the position in less than a calendar year. Being beloved by your players doesn’t always mean you’ll tactically place those players in the best position to win.
And To Play Devil’s Advocateâ€¦
Just how impressive was that 4-0 stretch to cap off the season? And how much of it can be attributed to what Bisaccia brought to the table? Winning close games against COVID-riddled rosters doesn’t invoke the utmost confidence (I know, “you play who’s on the schedule”). An argument could be made that defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was the battery behind the team’s late-season turnaround. His unit came alive at the most crucial stretch this season. It kept the team afloat long enough for Derek Carr to finish games off.
If the Raiders complete a thorough search and conclude that Bisaccia is the man for the job, so be it. But unless the Raiders make a deep playoff run, there should be no absolutes.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images