The last time the Oakland Raiders made the playoffs, Rich Gannon, 49, was their quarterback. This was back in 2002, when Gannon led the Raiders to a Super Bowl appearance.
It’s been all downhill ever since. Oakland, which has gone 12 straight seasons without a winning record, is hoping Jack Del Rio – rumored to be the Raiders’ next coach – can turn things around.
Would the 51-year-old Del Rio be a good hire? Gannon believes so.
“I think he was anxious to get back into that role,” the CBS Sports NFL analyst said on Tiki and Tierney. “He’s got a quarterback (in Derek Carr). I think they feel really good about the quarterback. And so now it’s a question of building around him – and they’ve got a ways to go. They were dead last in offense. But I think Jack’s got the experience. He went down to a very difficult situation in Jacksonville. I think this is a very similar situation. They got to start from the ground and work their way up.
“I think he’s going to get the keys to the car,” Gannon continued. “I think they’re going to give him a lot of flexibility and freedom to kind of build that roster. The one thing I do know is Jack can put together a good defense – something the Raiders haven’t had in over a decade.”
The Raiders (3-13) finished 16th against the pass, 22nd against the rush and dead last in scoring defense (28.3 points per game) this season. They started 0-10 before winning three of their final six games.
Oakland, as mentioned, has Derek Carr, who may be the quarterback of the future. Or he may not be. Aside from Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, a lot of quarterbacks drafted in recent years have not panned out.
“I think it’s very difficult, no question about it – especially if you have to play right away,” Gannon said. “I think it takes intelligence. I think it takes a guy that can come in there and handle the volume, which is significantly different – not just offensively, but what you’re going to see defensively. You have to have the ability to stand in front of a group of older men.”
Gannon remembers stepping into his first NFL huddle in 1987. He was 21 years old, and the guy to his right had a mustache and the guy to his left had a beard. Some guys even had kids.
“I realized this is different,” Gannon said. “These are professionals. This is what these guys do for a living.”
It’s not easy to transition into the NFL regardless of what position you play, but it’s extremely difficult for the vast majority of quarterbacks – especially those who played in a spread in college.
“It’s a different game,” Gannon said. “I think you look at a lot of these wide-open offenses in college and they don’t spend any time under center. The running game is kind of a mix. They’ve got a lot to learn in a short period of time, and the rules make it even more difficult now with the new CBA and the restrictions you have in terms of getting your hands on these players early in the offseason.”