The biggest key to the Oakland Raiders' success over the next three years is the same thing that has evaded the team over the previous decade -- continuity.
Consider: Since 2003, the year after the Raiders last enjoyed a winning season, Oakland has employed seven coaches -- Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable, Hue Jackson, Dennis Allen -- and gone an NFL-worst 53-123 (.301) in those 11 seasons. The Detroit Lions are 55-121 over the same time frame, while the Cleveland Browns are 56-120 and can match the Raiders' record for futility by losing at least 11 games for a seventh straight season in 2014.
Of those seven coaches, only Cable lasted more than two seasons and Allen, coming off consecutive 4-12 campaigns, is headed to Year 3. Of course, a million times of course, talent on the roster has more than a little something to do with it, as well as a vision that can be followed though to fruition.
But the NFL still stands for Not For Long in coaching circles when teams underperform. That's why this is such a critical season for not only Allen, but the Raiders in general going forward, especially in these next three years.
Continuity throughout the franchise is key. Oakland had 10 new starters last season and seven of them are in contract years in 2013.
"That's not how you build a football team," Allen said in his end-of-season media conference last January. "Those are hard situations to overcome. But I thought our players and coaches did well under those circumstances. That's a situation that we want to make sure that we avoid.
"I think having continuity having commitment, both on our side and from a players perspective, is important."
And there is is. Continuity and progress in the form of victories.