Zuri Berry: Kiffin wants the keys to Davis’ car | TheUnion.com

Zuri Berry: Kiffin wants the keys to Davis’ car

I like Al Davis. I know, I know, he’s a crazy old morgue of himself. But he keeps things interesting.

Don’t believe me, just ask Lane Kiffin ” or better yet, Rob Ryan.

In a classic case of undermining middle management, the boss responded to scathing public criticism from his coach over the Raiders’ defensive lapse in a 41-14 blowout to Denver by sending out the coach’s underling (Ryan) to toss a curveball in the media wars.

“I meet with Mr. Davis in the offseason,” Ryan told the Associated Press. “That thing is just (wrong), and I want to make sure you got it right. I meet with the owner in the offseason. He’s the boss, he’s the man that hired me, and that’s been well-documented. I don’t meet with him on game plans or come up with all this. It’s amazing when things like this come out when we have a bad week. Put it on me, that’s where it belongs. I’m the man that runs the defense.

“That’s what I’m up here for,” Ryan continued. “We have to bounce back. It’s not one of my players. It’s me right here, all on me.”

This in response to Kiffin telling the media, “For the most part, I let Rob do his thing over there. He has a belief in certain things and he has a conversation with the owner about that. So, that wasn’t the way the game plan ended up the other night.”

Too bad Davis sent Ryan to make that statement to the press or I’d consider Ryan a man of steel …. well, you know.

After the debacle this summer in which Kiffin wanted Ryan gone and Davis wanted Kiffin gone because of it, the Raiders are taking their drama to another level.

Immediately following Ryan’s reaction, talks of Kiffin’s possible firing sandwiched the media. Now, everyone on the West coast is scrambling to see what’s next in “Kiffin watch.”

The only thing that saved Kiffin from the chopping block this week was a win against the Kansas City Chiefs, so says the pundits (a la me).

It’s all pure comedy and I, for one, am glad we can watch the Raiders tumble down into oblivion with the most talented team its had since Rich Gannon blew the Super Bowl.

(Can anybody name a franchise that has been more demoralized by one game than the Raiders?)

You may have heard these numbers thrown out there in the last couple of days, but I’d like to reiterate them for insanity’s sake: 40-28, which is the record Jon Gruden composed in his four-year tenure before leaving to Tampa Bay; 32-67 since Gruden left; 19-61 since Bill Callahan led the team to the Super Bowl; 18 games removed from part dos of the Art Shell era (2-14); $170 million spent on defensive acquisitions and free agents this summer; 5-13 record since Kiffin has taken the helm and three coaches from a playoff game.

Davis can’t seem to understand that the only stability the team has had is him meddling with the personnel for the last 40 years. So when coaches like Callahan, Turner and Kiffin ask for a little more clout into some obviously bad decision-making, feathers get ruffled fairly easily at his rebuttals.

Old Al is just doing what he does best: Run his team. The only problem is he never thought anybody he hired would publicly call him out about loosening the grips on dad’s car.

Enter Kiffin, the arrogant yet devilishly brave soul, who willing scuttled into the lion’s den. He’s been spot on with his assessment of Davis and he’s shared a rare glimpse of what Turner should have said, Gruden almost said and Shell forgot to say on the way out.

Buyer beware: Keys do not come with car.

Zuri Berry is a sports writer for The Union. His column appears Wednesdays. You can also read his blog online at TheUnion.com/blogs/sports. To contact Zuri, e-mail zberry@theunion.com or call 477-4244.

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