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Lowell Cohn: Owner Mark Davis, head coach leave Raiders with absolutely no respect


The Raiders can’t get no respect. Ain’t that the sad truth?

A blog called NFL Nation conducted a confidential survey asking players which team they’d least like to play for. Who won – or lost? You got it. Da Raiders.

This is the actual survey prompt: “The only way I’d play for [team name] is if they doubled my salary.”

According to ESPN.com, NFL Nation asked 100 players to participate in the survey and got 82 responses. Twenty-three percent named Oakland. After that came Buffalo, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Green Bay. Green Bay? It must be the weather.

But the Raiders were the clear leader in this sad — for them — survey.

What does this survey tell us?

It says people in their industry do not believe in the Oakland Raiders. Do not believe owner Mark Davis, general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen are on the right track, even though this is their third year together.

There’s good reason for this negative opinion. The team has been dreadful under this group, although, before his death, Al Davis left the Raiders talent-starved and in salary cap hell. The current triumvirate has excuses. But players don’t care about excuses. Or good intentions. And they shouldn’t.

This survey — so stark in its assessment — gives Davis scant leverage for a new stadium. Will he have to sell part interest in the team to get a new one? I’m wondering.

A big part of the Raiders’ problem — the problem perceived by a bunch of players — is, I’m sure, Allen the head coach. What has he ever done? His combined Raiders’ record is 8-24. Ugh! He may be brilliant with Xs and Os, but he comes off like a football geek who lives in his head, has almost no ability to connect with players as people, almost no ability to make players passionate about him and his program.

He is a defensive specialist who never has fielded a good defense. That could change this season. Maybe. He meddles in the offense but doesn’t seem to understand offense. He never has developed a quarterback. He has retarded quarterbacks. Last season, he and McKenzie paid big bucks for Matt Flynn who flopped with the Raiders. Flynn went back to the Packers and played well.

This season, he and McKenzie paid big bucks for Matt Schaub who already seems to be a flop, well, a semi-flop. Schaub also has a sore elbow, the same injury that rendered Flynn ineffective in Oakland. Is this déjà vu all over again or what?

There’s more, and this one is fascinating. After last season, Davis gave Tony Sparano a two-year contract.

Who is Tony Sparano and why should you even care?

Tony Sparano is listed in the Raiders media guide as assistant head coach/offensive line. Tony Sparano was on the Raiders’ coaching staff last season. He has been a football coach of one sort or another for 30 years. He was head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2008-2011 where his record was 29-33.

That means he is a former head coach who could become a current head coach in the twinkling of an eye — if you get what I’m saying.

In 2012, he was the Jets’ offensive coordinator. That means he could bring an offensive vision to the Raiders, something Allen forgot to bring. Whether Sparano has a good offensive vision is open to discussion. One former coach told me Sparano sees the field like an offensive-line coach. That means he looks down at the ground and does not perceive the full picture. But that’s a subject for another day.

What I’m saying about Sparano is this. If Allen gets off to a bad start — the Raiders’ schedule is brutal — well, if Allen gets off to a bad start, it will be a cinch for Davis to hand him his pink slip and appoint Sparano head coach or interim head coach.

Davis already has Sparano on the premises. Davis already has Allen’s successor in the building. I don’t believe this is a coincidence. I believe Sparano is the living proof Davis has serious doubts about Allen. As he should.

FYI: Davis gave Sparano a two-year deal but gave several other assistants only one-year extensions. Davis is serious about Sparano.

What does all this mean? It means turmoil abounds in that quiet building in Alameda. “Turmoil” is so vague a descriptive. Let’s say, if he has any ability to read a situation, Allen should be scared stiff. He probably should hate Sparano, whom he must perceive as a vulture on the premises. He must wonder if McKenzie has his back. Probably not. Davis always says McKenzie is his guy. Davis never says Allen is his guy.

Speaking about the Raiders’ third preseason game, a 31-21 loss to the Packers, one former NFL coach — not the coach I referenced above — told me, “They don’t appear very well coached.”

No wonder so many players gave the Raiders a rousing vote of no confidence.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn.pressdemocrat.com.