On Monday morning, Brandon Tierney posted a simple, honest, laudatory tweet regarding Oakland Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano:
“It’s easier to bang on (head coaches) who deserve to be fired, but if (Jim) Harbaugh spurns the Raiders, Sparano deserves to return. He’s done a nice job.”
Yes, he has. Sparano, 53, has led the Raiders (3-12) to victory in three of their last five games, with wins over Kansas City (8-7), San Francisco (7-8) and Buffalo (8-7). Granted, none of those teams will make the playoffs, but they could all finish the season with at least a .500 record.
Either way, going 3-2 after an 0-10 start has to count for something, right?
Well, maybe, maybe not.
“They’re a hair away from the first overall draft pick,” Newsday NFL columnist Bob Glauber said on Tiki and Tierney. “That team was theoretically built to get to eight wins. With all those free agents they signed on defense, it looks like they got a decent quarterback in Derek Carr, (Darren) McFadden is still on that team (but) has done nothing, they get Maurice Jones-Drew – come on. (Sparano) gave a nice locker room speech after the win, and you were smitten by it.”
Speech or no speech, Sparano has been good for this team. He’s been a head coach in this league before, and while he hasn’t achieved a great deal of success as the top guy, he hasn’t been a failure, either. Rather, he’s been more than respectable; he’s someone who at least a few franchises probably wouldn’t mind having.
And, to be fair, Tierney’s entire claim was predicated on Harbaugh not getting the job – and if he doesn’t, don’t be surprised if there are sweeping changes within the organization.
“If Harbaugh doesn’t get the job, they’re probably going to get a new general manager as well,” Glauber said, referencing Reggie McKenzie. “He has not done a good job over the years. So I think they’re going to just clean the whole thing out. And the history of interim coaches getting the full-time gig, it’s not very good. Wade Phillips has been in that boat before. Romeo Crennel did a nice job toward the end of the season a couple years ago (in Kansas City), got the full-time gig and went 2-14 – and it was over.
“So I think it’s easy to kind of get a little bit seduced by an interim coach who does a solid job of keeping things together,” Glauber continued. “The team did play hard and they stayed together. There was not a lot of bickering.”
In fact, that’s been the case for a lot of losing teams around the league this year – with the possible exception of the Chicago Bears (and maybe the Washington Redskins)
“You don’t see that old-school (mentality of) players blaming the coaches (or the) coaches blaming the players,” Glauber said. “It’s a very well-behaved league in that respect. I’m quite impressed by it, actually.”