Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

17 Jan 2007

Report: Lofton Next Raiders Coach

James Lofton is apparently discussing terms to become the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders. The article notes the Raiders to be the Chargers' "most-hated rival", which is odd. I thought their most-hated rival was celebratory dancing.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 17 Jan 2007

38 comments, Last at 18 Jan 2007, 12:29am by The Other Jed


by David (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 2:41am

A wide receivers coach? Uh, okay.

by Kalyan (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 2:48am

How can Al Davis not turn over the HC job to the DC Ryan who had done a spectacular job with the young talent he has got.

Al is looking for style rather than substance.

It is not to knock on Lofton, but the charger WRs are nothing special and sans Gates (DPAR rank - 2), they would probably be no more than ordinary (DPAR rankings - Parker at 20, Mccardell at 47 and vincent at 54).

Looks like one more suspect move from Al Davis.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 2:55am

That's seriously weak. Are the Raiders still a professional football franchise?

There are so many - so many - good coaching candidates out there. And the Raiders went with James Lofton. I wonder if it's his long history of success developing QBs or his extensive work managing other coaches and volatile personalities like Keenan McCardell that sold them?

Just form a separate league so the Raiders and Lions can match up every week and have a chance of winning and go back to 30 teams.

by David (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 3:01am

You do kind of have to wonder how many of those good coaching candidates would even agree to think about entering a job with that many negatives. I mean, sure, if you can turn it around you've got your resume sewn up for life, but is that chance worth the time, effort and infuriation the job would involve?

by centrifuge (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 3:33am

"How can Al Davis not turn over the HC job to the DC Ryan who had done a spectacular job with the young talent he has got."

Maybe Davis wants him to continue with that spectacular job in the same capacity.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 3:43am

I won't believe it until the ink is dry on the paper. The Raiders need to interview a minority candidate, and I can see them trying to muscle Sarkisian's contract demands down by feigning serious negotiations.

They can't hire Lofton right after hiring Art Shell. They just can't.

by Lazear, Texas Ranger (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 5:09am

There have been worse ideas(hiring Tom Moore last year, the Eagles passing on 3rd and 1 at the NO 4, Chad Johnson's Mohawk). I really think that an inexperienced head coach can be covered up by his coordinators, but this is just a ploy to lower the asking price for Sarkisian

by Megamanic (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 5:11am

I won’t believe it until the ink is dry on the paper. The Raiders need to interview a minority candidate

Last time I checked Lofton qualified - unless he's developed some strange Michael Jackson Skin condition since the Rams game.

by David (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 6:03am

Exactly - the idea is that Lofton is just a Rooney Rule candidate, and the Raiders are feigning serious interest to make another guy (maybe Sarkisian) sweat.

by emcee fleshy (atl/sd) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 7:34am

Wow. What did James Lofton ever do to Al Davis?

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 8:03am

WTF?!?! If this is true, and I sincerely pray that it isn't, then Davis has just hired the guy responsible for a group of players that dropped what seemed every important pass thrown to them in their last game.

Sarkisian is not that much of a better option. Isn't this the guy responsible for that outstanding USC receiver Mike Williams?

If the Raiders want to make any improvement at all, they cannot consider anyone other than Ryan. The only acceptable reason for passing on him would be if Christ came back with Lombardi as an advisor

by Jim Ryalto (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 8:41am

I doubt it. Al Davis always makes it a point to interview coordinators from division rivals when searching for a new coach, not because he wants to hire them, but to see if he can get some kind of inside intel about the other teams. He has done this for years.

by Erik (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 9:29am

There has been a lot of young talent that Davis has spotted. He has a picked a fair number of Super Bowl winning coaches, just not necessarily for him.

Who was Shanahan before Davis?
Who was Gruden before Davis?
Who was Madden before Davis?
Who was Flores before Davis?

Those are just the guys who won Super Bowls. It isn't like Shell was a failure his first time around, and who had he been?

Davis hires men, not resumes.

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 9:50am

17: Really, Jesus as the coach of the Raiders? I mean he would be qualified for a lot of jobs but wouldn't that be rather a waste of his talents? Has he even seen an NFL game? Would he allow Al Davis to insist on the vertical stretch? I would have thought that he'd prefer to wait for an opening with the Saints.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 10:01am

The Saints seemed to do a pretty good job hiring a coach with very little experience other than Quarterbacks Coach and a few creative titles.

The Jets did a pretty good job hiring a coach with only one year of co-ordinator experience following a few years of DB coaching.

There are several coaches in the NFL with little or no co-ordinator experience. Why not James Lofton?

Of course, I think the best move would be Schottenheimer Senior.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 10:04am

Re 14:
Well, he could be looking at the Arizona job.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 10:23am

Am I the only one who thinks that the Raiders have a chance to be good next year?

Their defense is very good and very young-might even be top 5. They have a good running back. Their needs are qb, lt, rt, wr, and g. However, if they pick up a good left tackle (I'm looking at you Joe Thomas), they can move Robert Gallery to right tackle and solve two problems at once. Pick up a decent qb, and the offense is only bad, not historically sucky.

So say that they take Joe Thomas, Colt Brennan, and Anthony Gonzalez with their first three draft picks. That's 4 huge holes probably filled. And if that happens, I could easily see 9-7 as a possibility.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 10:25am

14: I just figure that if he can turn water into wine, he MAY be able to turn the Raider's O Line into a unit that doesn't resemble a turnstile.

Actually, come to think about it, with his long hair and beard, Ryan does bear a similar resemblance. And IF he does get the HC position in Oakland and IF he can lead them to 8-8, I'm pretty sure that Raider Nation would annoint him as the second coming.

by COINFLIP (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 12:38pm

Really, Jesus as the coach of the Raiders?

After all, he dropped the cross three times!

by Athelas (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 12:44pm

Ryan just doesn't look like a head coach--his hair is all wild and he dresses sloppily,
oh wait, he would be PERFECT for the RAIDAHS!

by CA (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 1:01pm

Adam Schefter reported on the NFL Network last night that Lofton has been telling people close to him that this isn't nearly the done deal that it may seem or that he originally thought. I think Schefter might have referenced this report specifically. Schefter reiterated the Sarkisian possibility and also said that Al Davis is very interested in Josh McDaniels, the young Patriots offensive coordinator. We all know how close Schefter and Davis are, so he may be on to something. We'll see.

by Raffy (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 1:41pm

The concept of "Relegation", which is familiar to soccer fans, may have to be introduced into the NFL with the Lions and Raiders as the first victims. (teams inspired by Basilicus) Choose the Grey Cup participants for promotion to the NFL. This way the owners of both franchises will fix the team. This is from a desparate Raider fan.

by mb (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 1:44pm

Re 11: No, Steve Sarkisian is not responsible for Mike Williams. He's the guy who developed Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart as a QB coach and helped direct USC's mighty offense after Norm Chow left. He was also, as you might recall, the Raiders' QB coach in 2004.

I think Sarkisian would be an excellent choice. He has a very successful history of developing QBs which is a perfect fit for the Raiders and he's a noted offensive guy who's studied under the great Norm Chow. I can't argue with Ryan as he's done a great job with a young defense that should be good for years to come, but it seems like it would be more of a reward than an inspired choice. The Raiders problems are with offense and I think they'd do well to leave Ryan be.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 2:08pm

"No, Steve Sarkisian is not responsible for Mike Williams. "

Mike Williams was phenomenal in college. I blame the Lions for either A) Drafting him when he didnt have the necessary talent, or B)Not developing him. Considering they blew 2 out of 3 1st round recievers they took, makes me think that the lions are the problem, and not USC's player developement.

by Sean (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 2:10pm

Re 15: For starters, Lofton is an idiot. Did you ever hear him do the pre and post game shows up in Buffalo? It's really not an Eric Mangini situation.

by Richie (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 2:23pm

I don't wish to alarm anybody, but the Raiders were actually in the Super Bowl 4 years ago!

by Led (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 2:27pm

"Who was Gruden before Davis?"

A boy genius OC with the Eagles.

by John P (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 4:04pm

17: The Raiders definitely have a chance at becoming one of those huge turn around teams. They already have a strong D, and some special teams standouts. They are trying to pull the Saints trifecta (new young genius offensive minded coach, solid vetern free agent QB, some luck in the draft).

Step one is getting a coach like that. After finding Shanahan, Gruden, and wanting Payton, I think Al Davis knows how to find 'em. Watch to see if Bobby Petrino, whom Al wanted at one point doesn't turn out to be a strong coach. Unfortunately, he has problems sealing the deal lately.

With the enormous amount of QB turnover this year, I expect the market to be flooded with decent veteran QB types, so step 2 should be doable.

Luck in the draft however, especially with linemen has seemed in short supply in Oakland. I think they should go that way (Joe Thomas) anyways.

by emcee fleshy (atl/sd) (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 5:17pm

“Who was Gruden before Davis?�

A fetus.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 5:43pm

I have doubts whether Gallery can be an effective tackle on either side of the ball. Hitting on your first three draft picks, one of them a qb, in terms of immediate contribution, doesnt happen very often for the best drafters, and the Raiders have not had a great track record lately in this regard. Even when somebody does make a good wr pick, they usually aren't terrific first year contributers.

Are the Raiders hopeless? Nope, teams with talented, young, well coached defenses are never hopeless. They do have an elderly personnel chief whose decisionmaking has grown increasingly suspect however, so there are a lot of potential pitfalls.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 5:51pm

In other coaching news, I am dreading the announcement that Mike Tomlin is Cowher's replacement. The guy is going to be a star coach in this league for the next couple decades at least, and he may have only one year with the Vikings. He is really consistent with the Rooney coaching hire m.o.; a young, smart guy who can spend many, many years on the Steelers' sideline.

by throughthelookingglass (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 6:02pm

That was best case scenario. Even so, some of those holes could be filled in free agency.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 6:53pm

Rich, I don't think WR is the position where the Lions let talent go (assuming that Williams is soon to be out the door). That would be OL. I think Williams and Rogers were more likely examples of players whose peak came during their college careers.

The Lions are certainly culpable to a certain extent, but I think in these cases, their error was in drafting people with questionable work ethic. Roy Williams doesn't have that problem and he's turned out just fine.

I didn't see anyone mention why Lofton is perfectly "qualified" for the Raiders job - he's an ex-Raider great. In Al Davis' eyes, that's all you need, a connection with the good old days. Coaching ability is irrelevant.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 7:13pm

Gosh, zlion, I think you touch upon something that too many personnel guys don't pay enough attention to when looking at first round picks, especially in the first half; does the guy really, really, love to play football? It's not something that is easily determined or even guessed at, but if there were any doubts that a guy loved to play, I'd be leery of sending a lot of guaranteed money in that direction.

by karl (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 7:17pm

i do believe the raiders are in a race with the dolphins at this point to acquire the services of bill cowher when he comes back next year. clearly.

by Basilicus (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 8:24pm


So in other words you expect the Dolphins to sign up Bill Cowher next year.

by MCS (not verified) :: Wed, 01/17/2007 - 10:04pm

Um. . .zlions, I tend to think of Lofton as a Packer great (and some good years with the Bills). He was only with the Raiders for 2 years, neither was very special.

by The Other Jed (not verified) :: Thu, 01/18/2007 - 12:29am

"Who was Gruden before Davis?"

A glint in his momma's eye?

Re 21

That's brilliant. There is no other word. The rule changes, differences in field size et al would seem to work against such an idea, but I think the CFL would play along in order to get at NFL money.

Whaddya say, Canadians?