At first glance, you would think that the Raiders' firing of Hue Jackson today was yet another sign of this team's ongoing instability. The Raiders have had seven coaches in the past ten years, and whomever they hire next will be number eight. A simple Twitter search turns up the usual assortment of angry responses:
Did Al Davis not die?
Commitment to excrement is back
Again, given this team's MO the past few years, that would be a perfectly logical assumption. But that's not the case here. This time, the Raiders HAD to fire Jackson. Firing him now was the only proper way of stabilizing the franchise for the long haul.
Remember, Jackson was the last coach hired by Al Davis. And while Davis was a legend, he proved in later years to be utterly incompetent when it came to hiring and firing coaches. Jackson was, in essence, the last remnant of the Davis Era that needed to be swept away so that the team could start fresh with a traditional power structure. They lured Reggie McKenzie away from the Packers to be their GM, and there was no sense in McKenzie keeping Jackson around for another year if he didn't plan on retaining him for the long term.
Jackson can blame politics for his ouster all he likes, but he more than earned his firing. This team's 8-8 record only looks decent when compared to Oakland's breathtaking record of failure over the past ten years. And Jackson was the one responsible for that terrible Carson Palmer trade in the middle of the season, one that cost the Raiders a first and second round pick. Jackson all but asked to be fired when he declared after the season that he was in charge of all the Raiders personnel decisions, something that probably didn't sit well with Davis' son, Mark.
If Jackson was hellbent on undermining McKenzie and preserving his power, it would have made for a long, long season in 2012. So McKenzie made the logical move to can Jackson now. To say he should have learned to live with Jackson suggests that Jackson was willing to be diplomatic, when that wasn't a lock.
Was Jackson's firing the result of a power struggle? Yes. NFL fans aren't fond of power struggles. They prefer it when a coach is hired or fired based upon his record on the field, and nothing else. But sometimes, as in this case, a power struggle was NEEDED, to take away Jackson's power and make the Raiders a functional franchise once again.
It was a decision that could prove painful in the short term. But now, at long last, the Raiders are finally free from Davis' yoke.