It has been reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is the leading candidate to become the Oakland Raiders' next head coach. After several weeks of sifting through a plethora of candidates, the Raiders have apparently found their man.
According to several sources, Allen is meeting with team officials today to iron out the details of the potential agreement that would result in Allen becoming the 10th head coach since their return to Oakland in 1995.
The idea hiring a defensive-minded coach like Allen is certainly intriguing—Oakland had a proclivity to employ offensive specialists under previous owner Al Davis. According to ESPN, the last head coach with a defensive background was John Madden, who led the Raiders from 1969-1978.
With the passing of Davis last October, new general manager Reggie McKenzie seems to be going against the grain this offseason, making a point to alter the tendencies and culture of an organization that has remained in a staid state of stubbornness throughout Davis’ control for over 40 years.
It only makes sense that Oakland would at least attempt to feign focus on the defensive side of the ball. Last season featured an epically vulnerable defense that shouldered the blame for much of the team’s late-season collapse that resulted in a missed opportunity to claim a postseason berth.
The numbers speak for themselves: 29th in total yards allowed and scoring defense, 27th against the pass and the run and 31st in first downs allowed. Needless to say, in terms of stopping their opponents, the Silver & Black simply could not.
Thus, the notion of bringing in someone with defensive credentials makes a lot of sense. Having had a parade of offensive-minded head coaches has not done the team any good in the last decade. And it seems that the Raiders have more pieces in place on offense than they do on defense.
But is Allen the right man for the job?
Allen has been the Broncos defensive coordinator for one season. The 39-year-old guided a Denver defense that ranked 20th in total yards and 24th in scoring. Prior to this stint, he worked in a variety of capacities for both the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.
How will this experience translate to a veteran Raiders squad that has had tremendous potential but not found the right formula to be a consistent defensive squad?
Last season, the Raiders were scrutinized for their use of the 4-3 base defense. That scheme was considered the main reason for Oakland’s fall-from-ahead losses to Buffalo, Denver, Detroit and San Diego. Many fans implored the Raiders to switch to the more popular 3-4 formation as a result.
However, it must be noted that Allen has implemented the 4-3 while in Denver. The Broncos ranked 10th in the NFL in sacks with 41 (the Raiders ranked 15th but only had two fewer). Glaringly, Denver forced a mere 18 turnovers, fourth-worst in the league.
How do these numbers equal an admired success? What does Allen possess that McKenzie wants?
Granted, the Raiders have some seasoned defensive veterans in Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Lito Sheppard; so any transition to the style of a young coach like Allen could be done with professionalism. However, Oakland is about to hire its fifth head coach in the past seven seasons. That’s a lot of turnover, even in the coaching carousel that is NFL.
If it’s true that Allen will indeed be the Raiders’ next head coach, they better make sure it’s an indefensible hiring.
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