The pros and cons are many and make for a decent argument on both sides. In reality its both and to varying degrees based on the unique makeup of the team in question. Great players without the benefit of a coaches guiding leadership and organizational skills are likely doomed. A great coach can certainly turn so-so teams with average talent into winning organizations that can compete with the best. But that’s a rarity.
The Oakland Raiders, have had less than more in the coaching and player talent department for some years according to the wisdom of many onlookers not to mention the team sub-par record. Some may blame the coaches or players or both and some may see it as the wrong talent together in the wrong place at the wrong time. All scenarios have a whiff of truth to them. The Raider team has indeed struggled to make a mark in the NFL or even in their own division. But there is a new optimism, unlike any in recent past, that bodes well for the return of the successes enjoyed years back.
Changes have been made. They reach across the coaching staff to upgrades in player talent. All are being realized via adjustments to the big picture strategy by the powers that be within the Raider organization. Quite simply the approach has been to bring in new bona fide coaching talent and start building a team with individual players that are both talented on the field and responsible class acts off the field.
The change began with new coach Jack Del Rio who brought palpable change to Raider theories on how to win through well-conceived actionable intelligence. This includes leading change based on a philosophy grounded in experience and success. It means having a leader who understands exactly where the team and organization need to be rethought and rebuilt. It’s a refreshing style of coaching and a renewed position on the kind of talent that needs to be acquired. This leads us, the onlookers, to wonder if it’s the perfect storm where disparate talent from coaches to players are brought together in the right mix at the right time.
Does coaching Experience matter?
There are all kinds of experience but only the right kind brings championships. Losing is certainly an experience but not a precursor to success. Del Rio has a long history of the right kind of success from his days as a player to his years as a coach. Winning is typically the result those who have a record of winning…period.
The Raiders of recent past have fallen woefully short in finding winners as head coaches. Out of the last five head coaches prior to Del Rio the Raider hires clearly didn’t have what it took. The simplest of all measures was the cumulative lack of experience each of those head coaches had on their resume. None to be exact! Not one had what was needed –based on experience- to bring a storied franchise back to the top of the heap.
The Raiders took risks which one might liken to throwing pasta against the wall and waiting to see what sticks. All that pasta simply slid to the floor.
It's fine even refreshing to see an owner take risks and swing for the fences but after a while it’s time for a calculated directive such as bringing a Jack Del Rio on board. Last time the Oakland Raiders meet success with a risk was Jon Gruden. That kind of coach however is a rare find.
As a head coach with the Jaguars, from 2003 to 2011, Del Rio led the team in 142 games a couple of which were playoff games. That's more regular-season and playoff coaching experience than Oakland's previous five head coaches combined.
Del Rio has a proven track record of building a team. He's shown he knows how to build a team. He's coached in high-pressure situations. He's coached in the playoffs. Del Rio has a handle on what is necessary to win with regularity in the NFL.
To be sure however, Del Rio has had some questionable history as a head coach. With only a few playoff games under his belt he also was fired by the Jaguars with several games left in his last season there. His record over his last four years with Jacksonville was below 500. His next gig was somewhat of a demotion when he was hired as defensive coordinator for the Broncos. But winning and success were key notable outcomes in those years with Denver.
Del Rio does take a positive view of his last 7 or so years as a coach in the NFL. He’s sees it as a learning experience and feels he has grown. He also has a solid perspective about Raider history and the glory days of old and keeps them in their rightful place careful not to go down the road of resting on the past achievements to shape the future. His approach seems to be one that expects the players to perform and to act responsible and to be accountable. The talent is there and Del Rio has the opportunity to shift the Raider culture to one where they can succeed based on a new vision; one in which the Raiders redefine themselves and set new precedents going forward. Good Luck Coach Del Rio.