Hue Jackson was fired this week by the Oakland Raiders. That sucks for him because getting fired is never fun. It's even less fun presumably when you're the head coach of an NFL football team, a job that's probably pretty cool.
However, Jackson should have seen the writing on the wall, as he was more or less looking down the barrel of a 45 as new general manager Reggie McKenzie released the safety. OK, so maybe that's a bit much, but it really shouldn't come as much of a surprise that McKenzie and the Raiders are going in a different direction.
Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Raiders are kind of a mess, despite finishing the season 8-8. That's a neat record, being .500 and all, but even in a pathetic AFC West it wasn't good enough to win the division and get into the playoffs.
So change is needed, and McKenzie comes in from a winning franchise in Green Bay to begin that period of change. It only makes sense that he gets to bring in who he wants to lead his team on the sidelines.
"The decision to move forward and where we are going into this new era, it's going to be a time for change," McKenzie said at a news conference earlier this week. "I felt there was a need for change at the head coaching position, from the top. We're moving into a new era. No disrespect to coach Jackson but this was something I wanted to do, start anew."
Jackson was not happy to say the least about being shown the door, but really, he kind of had it coming, aside from McKenzie's manufactured need for change.
While 8-8 wasn't good enough for the Raiders to win the AFC West and make the playoffs, that same record was good enough for the Denver Broncos to back into the playoffs. Of course, the Broncos needed help to get in on the season's last Sunday, and the Raiders obliged.
You could say that Oakland laid an egg, but that wouldn't be fair to chickens and other egg-laying creatures. The San Diego Chargers jumped out to a 24-13 halftime lead on the Raiders and led by as much as 14 before winning 38-26. The Chargers, mind you, were playing on the road with nothing to play for, in front Norv Turner, who was assumed by many (wrongly) to be a lame-duck coach.
With a chance to put themselves in position to win the division, the Raiders turned in a listless effort. They had everything to gain from winning and they gave maybe their worst effort all season.
"I'm pissed at my team," Jackson said in a heated postgame news conference in which he blamed just about everyone not named Hue Jackson. "And at some point in time, as a group of men, you go in the game — and you can say whatever you want about coaches — but you go win the game."
Here's the thing. Isn't it a pretty strong reflection on a coach if he can't get his team mentally and physically prepared for a game that could mean a trip to the playoffs? Jackson has to look in the mirror when something like that happens. If you can't motivate your players under those circumstances, you simply should not be in charge.
That, paired with a new era in Raiders football, led to Jackson's departure.
Who knows? Maybe it will actually work out for Jackson in the long run. The Raiders still aren't a great football team. They'll contend in the West, sure, but they're not going to win a thing. McKenzie, along with owner Mark Davis, the son of late and iconic owner Al Davis, are ushering in a new era in Oakland. In order for the Silver and Black to rebuild, they've got to demo the building standing there already.
Instead of hanging along for the rebuilding ride, Jackson is now back on the open market. He may find something else down the road, whether it be a head coaching job or a coordinator gig. He did, after all, lead the Raiders to the sixth-best offense as the team's offensive coordinator the year before taking over.
Regardless, it's safe to assume Carson Palmer won't be the quarterback at Jackson's next stop. So if you're looking for positives, there's that.
It may not be fair for a coach coming off a somewhat successful season, particularly after just one season, but those are the breaks when you have a chance to reach the postseason and fall flat on your face.
"I ain't feeling like this no more! This is a joke," Jackson said in his postgame news conference following his fate-sealing loss to the Chargers.
The bad news for Jackson is that he was fired, and he probably had it coming. That's no joke. On the bright side, he ain't have to feel like that no more.
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