Breaking Down the Hire: Dennis Allen
Reggie McKenzie finally found his guy.
After weeks of rumors, speculation, interviews and non-interviews the Raiders have finally found their 18th head coach in its franchise history.
Dennis Allen, who served as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator last season, will bring his defensive minded pedigree to Oakland in what is a refreshing hire for the Silver and Black.
Allen has studied nothing but defense throughout his NFL coaching career. He began as a defensive assistant for the Atlanta Falcons (02’-05’), moved on towards becoming assistant defensive line coach/secondary coach for the New Orleans Saints (06’-10’) until finally become defensive coordinator for the Broncos last season.
In 2010 the Broncos defense ranked last in the NFL in yards/game (390.8), points/game (29.4) and total points (471). In 2011, with Allen at the helm, the Broncos improved to 20th overall in defense, averaging 24.4 points a game, 357.8 yards per game and giving up a total of 390 points.
Not the mind blowing statistics you were looking for were you?
The 2010 Broncos didn’t turn into the 1985 Chicago Bears but the improvement was enough to catch the eye of GM Reggie McKenzie.
Just for giggles here are the Raiders 2011 team defensive statistics: 29th overall, 27.1 points/game, 387.6 yards/game, 120 penalties (3rd in the NFL), 982 penalty yards and 433 total points.
The hire may confuse Raiders fans: “defense” and “Broncos” weren’t all too familiar words in previous head coaching searches. Still, this is a much needed hire for the Raiders. It won’t make headlines, but it didn’t have to. Some may call this a “boring” hire, but do we dare bring up the “exciting” hired of the past? Raiders fans will probably balk at the idea of a former Broncos coach coaching their team (and from the comments on PFT they already are), especially a defensive coach, but these are probably the same fans who were clamoring for the mid-season signing of now broke Terrell Owens.
Offense, offense, offense; that was the mantra Al Davis lived by throughout his entire tenure as the Raiders fearless leader. Yet Davis received most of his success when he hired a defensive coach, John Madden, to coach the team. A 103-32 record and a Lombardi trophy later, Madden is often considered the most storied coach in the franchise’s history. In addition, Madden was the only person who was in the room with Mark Davis in Reggie McKenzie’s interview held last month.
No, I’m not saying Dennis Allen is the next John Madden, far from it. But we have to recognize the actual, significant culture change that is happening right now. If the McKenzie hire didn’t do it then the Dennis Allen hire will: this is no longer Al Davis’ team.
I give credit to Reggie McKenzie. In his opening press conference he mentioned a “short list” of candidates he had for the head coaching gig. Six interviews later he found “his guy,” the guy he wanted to move forward with in his first move as GM. McKenzie chose Dennis Allen over his own man Winston Moss and five other candidates. For a man so widely praised within NFL circles for his excellent talent evaluation and on field smarts, Raiders fans should be especially eager to see what McKenzie saw in Dennis Allen these upcoming seasons.
Allen runs a base 4-3 defense, which is the same defense the Raiders currently practice. He was extremely respected by Denver players and was the reason (Yes, even more than Tebow) why the Broncos were able to surpass the Raiders for the AFC West crown. The best player on that defense, Von Miller, had nothing but praise for Allen in an interview with NFL Network:
“They’re getting a guy that’s going to come in right away, and he’s going to get it done. That’s what he did for us. He came in, he laid out a plan for us, he told us, ‘This is how we’re going to do it, and this will work,’ and that’s what happened. We improved our defense an incredible amount. It was a night and day team from a year before.”
While Hue Jackson was the offensive minded coach with an ego that would make Kanye West jealous, Dennis Allen is the hard-nosed, old school defensive guy that will hopefully push the Raiders towards respectability on that side of the ball. The Raiders aren’t completely lacked for talent on defense, better than the Broncos were equipped with last season, so it’ll be interesting to see what specific defensive ideology Allen brings with him.
It will also be interesting to see what Allen does with his staff. Early rumors have Al Saunders staying as offensive coordinator, which would be a huge plus for an offense in no need of an offensive overhaul. It’s unclear who Allen will hire as defensive coordinator, though the names being thrown out there include Todd Bowles and Winston Moss.
Reggie McKenzie was with Green Bay when they hired an inexperienced coordinator as head coach. This coordinator helmed the NFL’s worst offense the previous year and was said to be no way fit to be a head coach, let alone for the most storied franchise in the NFL. Five years later Mike McCarthy won a Super Bowl.
The moral of this story: trust in Reggie. Raiders fans have zero reason to gripe when it comes to the Dennis Allen hire. They wanted a GM for years, they got one. The reigns of the franchise are now with McKenzie and Mark Davis, not AD. If you see Allen as unqualified for the position, do yourself a favor and look at the past Raiders teams this past decade.
While Hue Jackson came on the cusp of a playoff berth and the AFC West crown, the bottom line is that he failed. Dennis Allen is the new man in charge, learn to like him and accept him Raiders fans, he isn’t leaving anytime soon. A refreshing second stage in the Raiders rebuilding process, Dennis Allen is your new coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Now just coach baby.
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