Oakland Raiders Receiver Coach SanJay Lal: A Victim of Circumstance

OAKLAND CA - OCTOBER 31: Darrius Heyward-Bey #85 of the Oakland Raiders is lifted in the air by Marcel Reece #45 after he ran in for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 31 2010 in Oakland California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

SanJay Lal has had one of the most unenviable jobs in the NFL. He has been the Oakland Raiders wide receivers coach since 2009. During that time the Raiders have given him one of the youngest and raw receiving corps the league has seen. And yet it seems his name is mentioned more than any other when people complain about positional coaches for the Oakland Raiders.

I don't get it. He is a receiver coach—not a miracle worker. Darrius Heyward-Bey has been a disaster, but are people really attributing that to bad coaching? And as bad as he was he actually made improvements in 2010. Meanwhile, Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford have both vastly outperformed what you would expect out of a fourth-round selection.

Louis Murphy came to the Raiders from the spread offense. He was seen as an unpolished route runner that would be initially limited to nothing but a deep threat. Jacoby Ford was knocked for bad ball skills. It was this along with his size that many felt he could do nothing but be a slot receiver.

Both players have displayed far more diverse talents than what scouts had predicted for them. How much of this is coaching and how much is just their natural talent is impossible to say, but Lal has to get some of this credit doesn't he? As bad as the Raiders receivers have been I think it is easier to make the case that they have outperformed their expectations than underperformed (considering injuries).

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