August 4, 2011; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal during training camp at the Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Sanjay Lal was part of a new regime of Rex Ryan coaches in 2011. As we all know, a lot was expected from the new offensive regime, from Tony Sparano right on down the line. It was not to be, however, and we have a new regime at the top of this offense again. But, one holdover from 2012, at least so far, is WR coach Sanjay Lal.
To his credit, it seems that players like to play for Sanjay Lal. When the 2012 off-season began, the Jets were the primary, and really the only target for Chaz Schilens. Why? Because Lal was the Jets’ WR coach, and people such as Schilens love to play for Lal. Now, we learn that the Jets are looking at Darrius Heyward-Bey, undoubtedly in part, to reunite him with Lal.
But, how good of a coach is Sanjay Lal? Is he more of a friend/recruiter than coach? Let’s look at the history.
In three years as the WR coach of the Oakland Raiders, Sanjay Lal never produced at 1,000 yard wide receiver season. Heyward-Bey was the closest with 975 in 2011, however, no other receiver even eclipsed an 800 yard season during his tenure. Sure, you can attribute some of that to the problems the Raiders have had at quarterback. They haven’t exactly been “flush” at the position. But, there is something to be said for a coach that can bring more out of a guy, and Lal really hasn’t done that very much.
Well, how did it work out this year? Chaz Schilens, the man who wanted to play for Sanjay Lal and the Jets, managed a whopping 28 catches for 289 yards. He had too many dropped passes to to earn the trust of the coaching staff or the quarterback. No other wide receiver eclipsed 850 yards in 2012 for the Jets. Was that partially because of the poor season had by Mark Sanchez? Of course. But, it is also due to the position underperforming, which goes on the position coach.
Jeremy Kerley could be the exception. Jeremy had a breakout year in 2012 with 56 catches for 827 yards. He does “buck” the trend of these other guys, since Jeremy was a guy that Sanjay inherited, and saw through to an improved player. If Kerley can continue that, that will finally give Lal a bit of strength to his credibility as a WR coach.
It’s great to have a coach that players want to play for. But, those players need to produce, and in year one, they didn’t produce much. We have to see more, the jury is still out, but it’s a reasonable question. Is Lal a coach, or a friend?