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Oakland Raider Update: Just Who IS Mark Jackson?

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Two seasons ago, Art Shell strapped his future with the Raiders to the wagon of his BFF, Tom Walsh. We all know how that situation turned out. Walsh was demoted before the season was over and Art quickly followed him out the door. The same guy that Art called a "genius" is probably back running his bed and breakfast, while Shell is wishing he's of just stayed retired instead of retreaded.

This year, Lane Kiffin, brought us another coach's BFF, in the person of Director of Football Development, Mark Jackson, from USC.

"Rookie Raiders coach Lane Kiffin has brought a certain USC flavor from his former job.

He started with Mark Jackson, the director of football operations at USC who is now Kiffin's right-hand man."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=11&entry_id=16053

"Mark Jackson is in his first year with The Oakland Raiders as Director of Football Development. Jackson will work closely with Raiders Head Coach Lane Kiffin on all operational aspects of the football team. He will be involved in a number of areas including player contract negotiations, personnel evaluation, coaching staff decisions, media relations and overall administrative functions of the football team."

http://www.raiders.com/Team/CoachBio.aspx?id=17264

From the date that he was hired, February 7th, here is a look at his tenure:

He started off on a roll by releasing Aaron Brooks and Tyrone Poole, then signing Dominic Rhodes and eventually replacing the entire offensive coaching staff.

You have to give the USC connection all of the credit for landing Rhodes last year. Reggie Bush told Rhodes that he should sign with Kiffin because Kiffin will get the ball in the hands of his playmakers. So, Rhodes was not signing with the offensively inept Raiders, he was signing with the promise that Lane and his young staff brought.

The next two BIG signings were Justin Griffith and Cooper Carlysle. Jackson did get the contracts done, but, I give credit to Tom Cable's presence for bringing in his former FB and a zone blocking style Offensive lineman.

I have said for almost a year that Tom Cable was the most important signing last season and I have to ask myself IF he would have signed on to work here without seeing the direction that Lane was leading them in, or, if Greg Knapp wasn't part of the package. It could just be that it was the only job available after he was unjustifiably fired by Bobby Petrino.

While all of these great things were happening on the recruiting and roster management side of things there were two HUGE Elephants in the room that needed a pro's touch in order to be handled properly.

The Raiders had the first pick in the draft and it is important that IF the team has decided who they are taking, they just announce it and begin negotiations so that the player will be in camp. At the very least, you need to be talking parameters with the prospective picks agents.

There was also the case of Randy Moss not wanting to be here and wanting to play with Brady in New England.

Anyone who knows the mind of Al Davis knows that he would rather sit Moss on the bench than trade him to a Super Bowl Candidate for a 4th round pick.

Moss disgraced himself and the organization in Al's eyes by not playing 100% all out and by opening up his mouth on National Radio  and stating that he'd probably be happy playing somewhere else next year.

If there is any team OUTSIDE of the AFC West that Al would NEVER want to see Moss do well on it's, the NFL's Favorite, New England Patriots.

The trade did make "cents", as it saved the Raiders some much needed cap room for a player who said he was done with the organization, but, it also broke every silver and black heart EVERY WEEK as we watched Randy Moss break Jerry Rice's TD record and had nothing to do but utter along with Al Davis, "Why couldn't he do that for us?".

From Day ONE, Mark Jackson knew about these two variables, Moss and The #1 pick, and, in my opinion, he got an "F" on both of those situations.

JaMarcus Russell missed all of camp and Moss is in the Super Bowl. Ouch. A more experienced person handling these situations, probably would have handled these situations better.

Jackson could be seen on the sideline during the games, as sort of Lane Kiffin's shadow and the rumor is that he was kicked out of his office mid-season and demoted by Al Davis.

I guarantee that, even IF that report is false, in all that is or isn't going on in Raider-Land, Mark Jackson and his relationship with his BFF, is a HUGE part of it.

I, personally, think that he did a good job for a guy with no NFL experience and few developed contacts. It is too bad that Al continues to be the closest thing to a GM that we have because Jackson could be a great GM some day and by bringing in an experienced GM now, he'd be able to do what he does best...Recruit and evaluate while he learns the NFL.