The Raiders have announced the signing of James Lofton as Oakland’s new receivers coach. The San Diego Chargers let Lofton go a few weeks ago, and although he was fired by the Chargers, I still think it’s a good hire. Lofton has interviewed for head coaching positions in the past, so that tells me he’s established some respect throughout the league, no matter his inexperience.
I’m not sure what happened to Vincent Jackson this season, nor do I know whether Lofton contributed to Vincent’s success, but Jackson has emerged as one of my favorite guys to hate. Vincent Jackson had the kind of breakout playoff performance(s) that Derrick Burgess had a couple seasons back. Though they play completely different positions, they both were the best performers during those post-seasons, at both their respective positions. I see Jackson leading the NFL in either (or both) receptions or yards within the next two seasons; much like the way Burgess led the league in sacks. I’m not sure whether Lofton had anything to do with Jackson’s growth over the last few years, but it’s obvious he didn’t hurt it.
I think it’s a good move, and especially since we’ll know whether it’s going to work right away. The Raider receivers played so poorly this last season it’ll be obvious if there’s no improvement. Jerry Porter may not return, and I really think it might be best to part ways. He doesn’t seem to get the separation at the line of scrimmage that he use to, and looks a little slower than he did three seasons ago, so I’m sad to say that it might be best to part ways. I’ve always liked Porter, especially because he’s stayed for the most part, positive throughout the down fall of this franchise, but a change in uniform might give him his best chance.
Porter is better off going to a team where he can be the #2 guy, and prove that he was born to be a #1 receiver, but has just lost too much time. After learning from arguably the best two receivers of all time (Jerry Rice and Tim Brown), Porter got his chance to be #1 at the beginning of the 2004 season, but lost it the next season to Randy Moss. Porter struggled to excel, and probably due to many things; poor quarterback play (Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks), poor effort from Moss, bad coaching, and a bad offensive line. Porter could still help be a great asset to the Raiders, but I don’t think he’ll return.
So with Ronald Curry as the only remaining receiver worth mentioning, Lofton will get a chance to prove his worth right away. If Lofton can recruit talent (via draft and free agency), and get them to perform well, then he’ll look like a success, and will be praised as one. But if his recruiting fails, his time will be shorter in Oakland than it was in San Diego.
There were rumors during the last week about Kiffin’s awareness of a contract offer to Lofton, but I chose not to report it because I heard it was something that wasn’t going to become a problem. Here’s an update for those of you who wish to know, via Oakland Raiders Insider.
Whatever problems arose from Kiffin finding out about Lofton’s hiring from a third party _ a story denied by the club _ are for the moment being kept in-house or have been resolved.