Many wanted to laugh at the Raiders’ new GM Reggie McKenzie for firing the coach, Hue Jackson yesterday after one season of 8-8 football. From where I sit it looks like it could be entirely reasonable. Granted, a lot will depend on who the Raiders hire and what they do next year, but given our own experiences with the Browns and Mike Holmgren, it doesn’t look totally crazy to me.
Mike Holmgren has all but admitted that he wasted a year by keeping Eric Mangini around for an extra season. Ultimately by hiring Pat Shurmur and pretty consistently referring to this past 4-12 campaign as “year one,” Mike Holmgren is basically saying that he started his project a year later than the one in which he arrived.
Now in fairness to Eric Mangini, I don’t think we can call his second year with the Browns a total waste. It was another year where Mangini reinforced what it meant to practice and play with discipline in the NFL. On the heels of Romeo Crennel’s reign I would have a tough time just calling it a waste.
That being said, the team only won five games and they gave valuable playing time to guys like David Bowens and others who were never going to be a part of the Browns future. They didn’t give playing time to Jayme Mitchell meaning that Tom Heckert didn’t know as early as he could have that Mitchell is a backup at best for the Browns. Finally, they gave guys like Colt McCoy and Mohamed Massaquoi experience in a system that they eventually wouldn’t even be running. From that perspective outside the control of Eric Mangini and assuming that Holmgren would eventually run the West Coast Offense and a 4-3 defense, the Browns absolutely wasted a year.
That’s just water under the bridge now at this point for Browns fans, but keep it in mind with regard to the Raiders. I know that team has been something of a joke toward the end of Al Davis’ life. They became a laughing stock due to some of their moves. The move that most recently raises the eyebrows though was executed by Hue Jackson after Al Davis’ death.
Coach Hue Jackson was scared about the future after losing QB Jason Campbell to injury. In what terrified Browns fans due to its overwhelming help to the Bengals, he traded his 2012 first round draft pick and a conditional 2013 first rounder for the Bengals’ disgruntled QB Carson Palmer. To think that we complain about the second round of the 2009 NFL draft that Mangini botched with Brian Robiskie, Mohamed Massaquoi and David Veikune.
So Reggie McKenzie made a difficult decision in removing a coach who delivered an 8-8 season. McKenzie, who comes most recently from Green Bay, presumably has a plan that he hopes to enact that runs differently than Hue Jackson. In that respect it actually takes a bit of bravery to remove a guy who seemingly had the team on a path to relevancy now with a new QB and coming off of a 500 season.
Sometimes leadership is hard because the right decisions aren’t always easy to make. We’ll see if McKenzie made the right decision in Oakland removing Hue Jackson, but we already know that given his goals, objectives and ambitions Mike Holmgren failed to make the hard decision in Cleveland upon his arrival. It cost the Browns at least one year. As every year looms larger and larger the further we get from 1999 it appears all the more wasteful.