Oakland Raiders: Who Is Dennis Allen?

Carl Stoffers@@NHLwriterCorrespondent IIJanuary 24, 2012

Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie's search for a new head coach is reportedly entering its final phase, with the team focusing on Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. It's welcome news, considering the other candidates were reportedly Mike Tice, Dom Capers and Marty Mornhinweg, three men who have already had their share of utter failure as head coaches in the NFL.

However comforting it is that MacKenzie is apparently leaning toward someone other than Tice, Capers or Mornhinweg, not many people are familiar with the 39-year-old Allen.

The former Texas A&M and Buffalo Bills defensive back has been Denver's defensive coordinator since last January, and he previously served under Sean Payton in New Orleans as defensive line and secondary coach. His NFL resume also includes four years as a defensive assistant/quality control coach with the Atlanta Falcons.

Prior to his NFL career, Allen spent six seasons as a college coach at Texas A&M (graduate assistant) and Tulsa (secondary coach).

Although Allen's resume dictates that he's probably ready to move to the next level, it doesn't explain his philosophy regarding defense, which was a major weakness for the Raiders in 2011. He's on the record as favoring a "fast, violent, aggressive type of defense," which should be music to the ears of Oakland's fans, as 2011 was a year of lost leads and inept playmaking on the defensive side of the ball.

Allen's approach should change that.

His aggressive play-calling has been described as "bend, but don't break," and usually results in his unit giving up plenty of yards per game, but also recording a substantial amount of sacks and turnovers. Last season, he took a previously mediocre Denver defense and transformed it into a formidable unit.

If Allen is hired, the Raiders defense will undoubtedly be in the hands of a yet-to-be-hired coordinator, but, as head coach, his fingerprints will be all over the team. His defensive outlook will breathe life into a lifeless part of the team, and bring wholesale changes in the culture of the organization.