AFC West: Scott Linehan

Around the AFC West

January, 23, 2009
Posted by's Bill Williamson


A look at Josh McDaniels' coaching staff.

My take: McDaniels looks to have done a pretty nice job compiling his first NFL staff. The key to the staff, I believe, is the addition of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and the fact that McDaniels kept holdovers Bobby Turner and Rick Dennison who mastered Shanahan's running attack. The offense can still work as it did with McDaniels touch and the defense has a legitimate force leading it.

Kansas City

It's not a great year to address the Chiefs' biggest draft need.

My take: Kansas City can't force the issue. It has the No. 3 overall pick. If there is no pass rusher who thrills the Chiefs, they shouldn't take him that high. They hold all the cards. They should draft the best available player or trade the pick rather than reaching at a position where the bust possibilities are high, anyway.


Al Saunders lost his competition for the Raiders' offensive coordinator job.

My take: Scott Linehan is now in Detroit, so Al Saunders, who has danced with the Raiders before, could be on his way to working in Oakland. But for who?

San Diego

A.J. Smith thinks it's all about the quarterback.

My take: How can you argue with him? Smith is right on the money. Any team that has an elite quarterback has a chance. That's why the San Diego Chargers will be relevant for years to come. Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback.

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Reading between the lines is often an art form when it comes to trying to figure out what is happening in Oakland.

The 24 hours of the Scott Linehan Project makes the situation as blurry as ever.

Thursday, it surfaced that the former St. Louis head coach was coming to Oakland for an interview to be the team's offensive coordinator. Linehan was college teammates with Oakland interim coach Tom Cable at Idaho. So, it appeared that could be another sign that Cable would emerge as Al Davis' choice to be the full-time head coach.

But nearly as soon as Linehan emerged as a contender he now must be scratched off the list. ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that Linehan has taken the offensive coordinator's job in Detroit.

OK, now what?

Does that mean Cable may not be a lock? Why would Linehan take another job right as his interview was being set up?

Again, it's Oakland and there are no clear answers.

The intrigue continues. Now it appears that longtime NFL veteran coach Al Saunders could be a leading candidate for the offensive coordinator's job. Of course, the real news we await is who will be the new head coach. And after the short Linehan dance, we don't appear any closer to knowing the answer.

AFC West news and notes

January, 22, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

• San Diego general manager A.J. Smith had an interesting reaction to LaDainian Tomlinson's message that he wants to stay with the Chargers. Still, I don't take Smith's stance as a telltale sign that the Chargers are going to part ways with Tomlinson.

But I believe Smith is treating it as a serious business decision and he will not allow emotions and sentiment to get in the way. In the end, this is the best approach, because after all, the NFL is a business.

• Former Denver defensive coordinator Bob Slowik is on his way to Detroit. What is most interesting about this is it may be a hint that former Denver coach Mike Shanahan is not going to coach in 2009. Slowik and Shanahan are very close and if Shanahan were close to coming back, Slowik would likely wait until he made a decision.

• Winston Moss comes to Oakland as head coach or he doesn't come at all.

• Meanwhile, the Raiders continue to try to build a coaching staff before they decide on their next head coach. The newest name to surface for an assistant's job is former Rams coach Scott Linehan.

Yes, unless a major development breaks late Thursday night, it seems another day will pass without resolution to the head-coaching situations in both Oakland and Kansas City.

Cable has his chance in Oakland

September, 30, 2008

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Al Davis made it very clear this afternoon: Tom Cable has to win. If Cable wins, he could stay on as the Raiders head coach in 2009. Until then, Cable is the Raiders' interim head coach.

But he has a chance. Davis's decision to hire Cable is interesting. Initially, the speculation on the eventual replacement for Lane Kiffin, who was fired this morning, surrounded around receivers coach James Lofton and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. But it was Cable, the team's offensive line coach, who emerged. Davis said Cable dominates his unit and he thinks Cable can dominate the entire Oakland locker room.

Tom Cable's Coaching Career
2007-08Raiders offensive line coach
2007-08Raiders offensive line coach
2006 Falcons offensive line coach
2004-05UCLA offensive coordinator
2000-03Idaho head coach
1999Colorado offensive coordinator
1998Colorado offensive line coach
1992-97California offensive line coach
1991UNLV offensive line coach
1990 Cal State-Fullerton defensive line coach
2007-08Raiders offensive line coach
1989San Diego State graduate assistant
1987-88Idaho graduate assistant
--Compiled by ESPN Research

Cable is known as one the better offensive line coaches in the league. He turned around the fortunes of Oakland's offensive line using the zone-blocking scheme that he was taught by Alex Gibbs who perfected the scheme in Denver.

Cable, 43, is known as a very businesslike coach, who can be tough on his players. He does have head coaching experience, but it wasn't successful. Cable, who played with former St. Louis coach Scott Linehan for current Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson at Idaho, had an 11-35 record at his alma mater.

Cable said offensive coordinator Greg Knapp will call the plays and Cable will still coach the offensive line. The key for Cable is to make sure young offensive talents JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden continue to develop.

It makes sense that Davis went to the offensive side of the ball. Russell and McFadden represent Oakland's greatest chance for a turnaround.

If Oakland's offense comes alive with the youngsters and the defense learns to put away games in the fourth quarter, perhaps Cable will stick around. If not there will be another coaching search in Oakland next January, where names such as San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike Martz could emerge. Until then, Cable has his chance.

Update from Oakland

September, 30, 2008

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Here's the latest from the Raiders' facility:

Lane Kiffin, fired this morning over the phone by owner Al Davis, has been escorted from the facility. His time in Oakland is officially over. Kiffin was able to say goodbye to whoever was in the building but since the players are off today, there was no official team gathering.

Al Davis has been talking this afternoon to offensive line coach Tom Cable, who appears to be the leading candidate to take over the team. No announcement has been made. Cable has previous head coaching experience at his alma mater, Idaho. Cable played with Scott Linehan, fired Monday by St. Louis, at Idaho under current Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson.

Davis is set to meet the press at 5 p.m. ET today. Expect Kiffin's insubordination to be detailed. An announcement of his replacement is expected later today.

It has already been a wild day in Oakland, expect more fireworks as the day progresses.

Kiffin update

September, 29, 2008

Posted by's Bill Williamson

A potentially important development just occurred in Oakland. Coach Lane Kiffin told reporters that he will no longer talk about his relationship with Al Davis.

Kiffin, who has earned a reputation for being honest with the media, was apologetic for his new stance. Here's the question: Why did Kiffin adopt this new policy?

Did he meet with Davis and agree not to talk about their relationship again? Is it part of an agreement to keep Kiffin in Oakland?

Something is going on and Kiffin is still the Oakland coach. He was still the coach during his afternoon press conference. The Raiders are on their bye week and often coaching changes happen when a team is on its bye week. Rams fired coach Scott Linehan today as they begin their bye week.

Kiffin has been on the hot seat for 16 days since reports surfaced that he could be fired at any time. Davis has not addressed the media during this time but the word is he could do so this week, perhaps  Tuesday or Wednesday.

Could Kiffin be fired before Davis talks publicly? Sure, he could. It could happen at any time. Or it could not happen as we have learned during the past two-plus weeks.