First I want to Congatulate Former NFL DB Rod Woodson on his Hall of Fame Induction. Woodson was a member of our last Superbowl squad and represented us in the Pro Bowl that year. Congratulations to current DB Nnamdi Asomugha on his first Pro Bowl election as well as Shane Lechler on another Pro Bowl appearance.
I'm gonna go back to 2004 as far as our offseason mistakes go.
2004: Signing Warren Sapp to a major contract; This was Rob Ryan's first year as our defensive coordinator and everybody knew good and well that Rob Ryan was a 3-4 schemer and Warren Sapp was a 4-3 DT. This was just the beginning of Rob Ryan's defensive failure. Ryan was forced to scheme around Warren Sapp because of the money Al Davis invested in him. We could also argue that not drafting Larry Fitzgerald was a big mistake here with all respect to Robert Gallery because not only was WR a big need for us this year, but also an elite offensive playmaker and Fitzgerald is both. Many fans are upset that Gallery is playing left guard instead of left tackle like he was drafted to play, but he has estabilished himself as the anchor of our OL so signing Warren Sapp is our biggest mistake for 2004. However, good linemen are available every year and it is rare that a guy like Fitgerald comes around, so it is a tough call.
2005: Trading #7 overall pick and ILB Napolean Harris for Randy Moss; Randy Moss was a major cancer to our football team by not playing at the level he was capable of playing at. Had we not made our mistake of 2004, we'd still be in a 3-4 defense and we could've used this pick on either Demarcus Ware or Shawn Merriman; 2 3-4 OLBs that have made the Pro Bowl several times with their respected ball clubs. Plus we would've still had 2 ILBs for the 3-4. Our front 7 could've been Tommy Kelly, Ted Washington, and Bobby Hamilton on the front line with Tyler Brayton, Danny Clark, Napolean Harris, and either Ware or Merriman. I wonder what Rob Ryan could've done with that.
2006: Drafting Michael Huff instead of Jay Cutler; It's hard not to single anything out this year since it was a year that everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. One possitive to dwell on was that our defense was ranked #3 overall and #1 in the passing game but a lot of that was due to them being on the field all the time. Anyways, I chose drafting Michael Huff as our mistake because he has been a major disappointment much like the last safety we drafted in the first round some of you may recall that was Derrick Gibson. Huff only has 1 pick in 3 years and was benched this last year. I chose Jay Cutler over Matt Leinert because Cutler is still a starter and Leinert was benched this passed year. Plus Cutler has quite a strong arm that is often overshadowed by his mobility in the pocket which is highly necessary in the NFL today. Why a quarterback? You will see in 2007.
2007: Having to live with 2006's mistake; All respect goes out to Jamarcus Russell on this one. Had we drafted Cutler in 2006, that would've freed us up to take WR Calvin Johnson or RB Adrian Peterson. Keep in mind though that back in 2004 we could've drafted WR Larry Fitzgerald (but I chose our defensive msitake over that one; once again all respect to Robert Gallery) and had we done that this would've been an easy pick with Adrian Peterson. However, keep in mind that we also snagged an injured senior RB in a later round this year named Michael Bush plus an elite WR/PR Johnnie Lee Higgins. I really don't think we made a mistake in 2007, we were just having to live with ones from the passed.
2008: Al Davis not working with coaching moves the staff wanted to make; After the 2007 season, Lane Kiffin and Rob Ryan decided that they didn't work very well together and that it would be best if Rob Ryan left. Lane Kiffin already had a replacement in line, his father Monte Kiffin, who (unlike Ryan) has been successful with the 4-3 defense. Remember Rob Ryan is a 3-4 schemer and was now stuck with 4-3 personell due to the Warren Sapp situation. Ryan's buddy Eric Mangini, who was coaching the NY Jets at the time wanted to bring in Rob Ryan to coach his 3-4 defense and Ryan wanted the job too. Kiffin took the proposition to Davis, but Davis responded with "No, Ryan Stays," as if it was just Kiffin that wanted him gone. Meanwhile in Tampa, Monte Kiffin was looking forward to coaching with his son. Both Kiffins and Ryan were not happy about it, but like mature adults moved on with their offseason adgendas. Meanwhile, Al Davis immaturely tries to run Lane Kiffin off by asking him to re-sign, but Kiffin responds with "Fire Me." This prompted Kiffin to not wear Raider gear at the senior bowl as he did his head coaching duties there causing lots of speculation. Kiffin was often questioned about his relationship with Rob Ryan throughout training camp and he always responded with "It's not an issue," because neither of them got what they wanted at the start of the offseason. After what happened at the end of this season, I saw all the evidence I needed to convince myself that Al Davis was the root cause of the coaching chaos. He fired Kiffin 4 weeks into the regular season. Lane Kiffin went on to take the head coaching job at the university of Tennessee and his father Monte joined him as defensive coordinator. Eric Mangini was fired as HC of the NY Jets, but won the HC job with the Cleveland Browns. Rob Ryan's contract was up with the Raiders and he went on to join Mangini in Cleveland as their defensive coordinator and will have 3-4 personell to work with.
2009: Hasn't happened yet; Tom Cable has not been named head coach yet, but is expected to be sometime this week as early as tommorrow. Cable was the OL coach on Kiffin's staff and was named interim HC after Kiffin's termination. Cable had really impressed Davis by almost intantaeously turning around what was the worst OL in the NFL by implementing a scheme that brought out the best in their ability. Turning the whole team around wasn't very easy, but he unhessitantly made personell changes in the lineup that made major differneces. By the time we had an extremely youthful line up (which was the last 2 games) we looked like a completely different football team and many fans like myself are hoping that was a preview for next year. I really believe in Tom Cable and if he isn't retained that would be what I would call the biggest mistake of 2009. However, we have several key players that are free agents including Pro Bowlers CB Nnamdi Asomugha and P Shane Lechler. The other starting corner Chris Johnson is also a FA and will likely be kept cheap, but if Aso is not retained then that would be pretty high on the offseason mistake list, unless he is replaced with somebody just as good or better, but I think he's looking for big money. I hate to see Lechler go, but I think he's more interested in a change of scenery than big money. Free agency will play a major impact on draft needs and any key players lost will leave voids that will need to be filled by suitable replacements.