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Hue Jackson had to go

Raider Nation, I hear you screaming in the streets.  I see your Facebook statuses proclaiming your outrage.  My Twitter timeline is dripping with your despair.  I’m currently turning off my phone so the texts won’t interrupt this article.  Wipe away your tears, and take a moment to read just why Hue Jackson ultimately HAD to go.

1) His team lost four of five games down the stretch, lost the division lead, and consequentially allowed the Raiders to fall out of the playoffs.

All while allowing division rival Denver to continue a miraculous global attention grabbing streak in the process.  The Raiders had an opportunity to slam this division shut multiple times throughout this season.  They should have closed the game out against Buffalo.  They should never have permitted Tebow to… Tebow them.  Did you see what happened at home against the Lions?  With the season on the line, you absolutely cannot lose to a division rival (a division which you swept the prior year) in the FINAL game of the season… and at home, no less. 

2)  In one of the most ridiculous moments of “How DARE you question my obviously stupid decision” ever, he brazenly boasted that his acquisition of Carson Palmer for two high draft picks (universally accepted as at least ‘questionable’) was “possibly the greatest trade ever…” 

This is the same Carson Palmer who was horrendous in his last year with the Bengals (see what rookie Andy Dalton did with a majority of the same players and coaches?) and threw for three more interceptions (16) than he did touchdowns (13) this year. 

Before “Enraged Raiders Fan” pops a blood vessel while frantically typing about how Carson was “on the couch” when he was signed, and how he didn’t get the chance to get acclimated to the offense…  Yes, all of that is true. But that proves my point on just how ridiculous of a trade it was in the first place. 

Not only that, if you take a look at his statistics over the last three years, this abbreviated 4-6 stretch (4-5 as a starter) with the Raiders was actually on par statistically.  What that means is the Carson Palmer you saw this year is the same Carson you’re going to see next year: Can get hot at times, but generally makes key errors over the course of the game/season to give you a shot at 8-8.  If you were expecting the same Carson that came out of USC, Heisman trophy in tow, slinging the ball around and having MVP-like numbers from ’05-’07, then you were sorely mistaken… as was Hue. 

3)  After falling out of the playoffs, losing several games by blowing double-digit fourth quarter leads with foolish penalties and questionable strategies along the way, losing a big-time (yet, admittedly, somewhat necessary) gamble on the trade for Carson, all while watching your team obliterate the NFL’s All-Time Penalty records, you can’t come out guns-a-blazin’ talking about how you need more control and influence over the team, throwing your players under the bus with your rhetoric about being “pissed off” at the defense. 

You definitely can’t publicly throw your coordinators (Chuck Bresnahan) to the wolves without accepting some of that blame yourself.  Were the players the ones out there missing tackles, throwing interceptions, and racking up penalties at a record-setting pace?  Of course.  Was Jackson the one directly responsible for running one of the league’s worst defenses?  Of course not.  That was in fact Chuck Bresnahan.  The key is, Jackson was ultimately responsible for the final results on the field.  Regardless of how the Raiders ended up earning their 8-8 record, his name ultimately goes on the finished product.

Do I think the Raiders could have given him another year to prove himself, considering the death of legendary owner, Al Davis, and all the injuries and turmoil the team had to overcome?  Sure.  New GM Reggie McKenzie, while well within his rights to go in a new direction, definitely could have granted Coach Jackson the opportunity to have another go at it.  Trouble is, this is a results world, let alone league, and the Raiders have not had any truly positive results in 10 years.  While the past two seasons have shown promise, all that gets you is a slightly worse drafting position in April. 

This is a once-proud organization that is looking to completely change its culture and image.  The way the team fluttered down the stretch (with plenty of embarrassing moments along the way), losing several games that were definitely winnable if only a culture of a higher level of accountability and professionalism had been generated, didn’t bode well for Coach Jackson.  

Jackson will get another opportunity in this league, and I, for one, hope he gets that chance sometime soon.  He possesses a great deal of promise as an innovative offensive mind and an inner confidence that can be magnetic and infectious (in a positive way).  I hope this experience with the Raiders’ organization teaches him a bit more about the savvy and maturity it takes to be a head coach in the National Football League.  Jackson definitely has the potential. He just needs a bit more polishing to ultimately be most effective as a leader and coach. 

In the sports world, we love hubris and bravado, but only if you win.  The only reason Rex Ryan is still coaching the Jets is because they were in the AFC Championship game a couple of consecutive years.  Watch what happens if they have another catastrophic meltdown next year.  The two of you may be competing for positions.  Best of luck to you, Coach Jackson.

— Jabari A. Davis is a Guest Contributor special to Thoughts From the Dark Side. You can follow him on Twitter @NBARealTalkFB or befriend him on facebook @NBARealTalk.