Sparano gets a shot as Raiders interim coach

ALAMEDA — Despite being saddled with an 0-4 record, the Raiders say they are excited about Tony Sparano’s experience, leadership and passion.

Sparano was introduced to the media Tuesday in his new role, and detailed some of the things he’d like to accomplish.

Most of all, that includes changing the feeling within the locker room and helping the mostly-young team taste victory.

It’s not an ideal time, something Sparano touched on during his opening remarks, but he still has confidence that the season can get much better:

“The goal from day one, and the objective set forward here was not to win games. It was to win championships. And put ourselves in position to do this. In order to do that, you need to get yourself into the tournament. And that looks like it’s far away, it looks like it’s a big mountain to climb. We’ve put ourselves in a position that is pretty hard. Obviously not ideal.”

Sparano continued:

“Doable? Yeah, everything is doable. It really is. And I’ve been part of those turnarounds before, and I have the utmost confidence in our players here and our coaches here that we can get this thing turned around. I really do.”

Sparano definitely has the resume of a coach that can take things from awful to really good. He did it with the Miami Dolphins in 2008, finishing that season with an 11-5 record and making the postseason just one year after the same team went 1-15.

There weren’t any big roster moves then. There wasn’t a resurgence at quarterback, no hugely improved defense. Somehow he got it done.

Sparano wouldn’t detail that team, stating that all he cares about is the future. He says he’s an Oakland Raider, not a character from ‘A Christmas Carol.’

But oh man. Raiders fans would sure love to see a quick turnaround, and it would be the best Christmas present many of them could ask for.

With only one firing and promotion, though, how much change can occur? That’s something that will be determined. How it will change, Sparano says, begins with philosphy:

“I respect Dennis Allen tremendously, but I’m not Dennis and Dennis is not me and so on and so forth. Things can change with philosophies, and that will be the case. We will have a different philosophy, I need to share that right now. I will share that tomorrow with the players.”

Sparano wouldn’t share a whole lot more regarding the specifics of his plans, though he did mention that he’s going through different things with other coaches.

Sparano comes off like a straight shooter, which is a large part of his reputation. The one that typically includes words and phrases like no-nonsense, in-your-face and demanding.

Allen and Sparano are indeed different, sometimes very different. Allen is more soft-spoken, certainly less-experienced, and far from being difficult to ignore.

It worked for the Denver Broncos, where Allen spent the 2011 season as defensive coordinator, making the playoffs despite having Tim Tebow as their starting quarterback late in the season.

Allen didn’t work in Oakland, leading six different starting quarterbacks as head coach to a win percentage below .250.

General manager Reggie McKenzie took responsibility for that, as did Sparano. They both understand the ship is sinking faster than can currently be repaired. That big changes, like firing a head coach, are necessary.

Beyond philosophies, any other changes are in store remain unclear. But Sparano shared what he thinks needs to happen early:

“The biggest problem right now is that they’ve forgotten how to win. You can fall into that trap. There’s plenty of excuses out there right now. A lot of them. I say this with all due respect, you guys will have them lined up a mile long. A lot of excuses out there. And we’re not going to use those excuses. As soon as we taste, and we will taste what it feels like to win, that’s how change happens.”

Sparano continued:

“A lot of teams in this league that are front-running teams, they taste a little bit and they want more. And they want more. Our guys need to taste that. I think that’s probably the biggest problem. They played their hearts out two weeks ago in New England and we came up short. Didn’t win. That’s the kind of game that we need to be able to win. We need to win one of those games and see it snowball. That’s what I’ve been a part of and I know it’s possible.”


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