Reggie McKenzie Hires Dennis Allen to Coach Oakland Raiders: The Pros and Cons

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IJanuary 25, 2012

Reggie McKenzie Hires Dennis Allen to Coach Oakland Raiders: The Pros and Cons

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    In a surprising move to many, Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie hired former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen as the team's head coach.

    From the way things started when McKenzie was first hired, it didn't look like that was the direction in which he would go.

    The hiring reveals that McKenzie didn't have his guy picked out, as many (myself included) were led to believe. And when you look at the way the whole process played out, it looked a bit messy, like a first-time GM would have it.

    But, in the end, I think it could end up being a great hire with plenty of advantages for the Raiders.

    Turn the page for a closer look at the pros and cons.

Con: The Process

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    The process of the Raiders' coaching search seemed a bit odd to me.

    At his introductory press conference, Reggie McKenzie sounded like he had a definite plan and direction in which he wanted to go. He proceeded to tell the media he had a "short list" of head coach candidates he would choose from.

    He also expressed his desire to bring as much of the Green Bay Packers' model as he could to Raider Nation. But once the process of finding his guy started, the list appeared to lengthen with each passing day.

    Winston Moss, Green Bay Packers assistant head coach and first reported front-runner, botched his interview, according to

    Then, Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers interviewed for the position, and I started to worry. Relieved when he wasn't hired, I started to wonder just how long it would take for McKenzie to find his coach.

    At one point, bringing Hue Jackson back sounded good.

Con: Raiders Don't Know What They Have

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    Raider Nation has gone from having Al Davis to not knowing what it has.

    The Raiders already have a young team, and now there's a rookie head coach with a rookie GM. New Raiders head coach Dennis Allen was hired off of the Denver Broncos staff, so there goes replicating the Packers, too.

    Who is this guy?

    He shows up in Denver after a stint in New Orleans, leads the defense to the No. 20 ranking, and now he's supposed to be ready to be a head coach.

    At least Hue Jackson has a year of head coaching experience under his belt and knows the Raiders. He also earned the job by taking the Raiders offense from No. 31 in 2009 to No. 10 in 2010.

    The Broncos defense made no such jump in 2011, so Allen must have put together the presentation of a lifetime.

    His defense on the Super Bowl-winning team in 2009 was No. 25, so I'm still looking for something encouraging on that resume.   

Pro: Raiders Can Run the 3-4

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    Everyone is assuming that the Raiders will stay with the 4-3 because Dennis Allen ran the 4-3 in Denver last year.

    But that isn't necessarily the case, because Allen ran the 3-4 in New Orleans from 2006 to 2010.

    I still believe that the Raiders front seven is a better fit for the 3-4, so this part of it works out well to me. But what I really like is that Allen is a blitz-happy attacker, who likes to put pressure on the quarterback.

    Gone are the days the Raiders simply try to get there with four, sometimes giving opposing quarterbacks all day to throw. Allen could very well run both defensive fronts, mixing the scheme according to the game plan.

    It's going to be interesting.

Pro: Raiders Can Contain Tebow

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    Dennis Allen was on Tim Tebow's side this year when he struggled against the Patriots twice.

    So, all of the problems that Tebow presented for the Raiders that they couldn't solve in 2011 should be solved in 2012.

    If there is a defensive coordinator that knows Tebow's tendencies and weaknesses more the Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, it's Allen. This is a huge pro to me because the Raiders defense looked hopeless against Tebow in 2011.

    You can say Tebow is a big part of why the Raiders missed the playoffs.

Pro: Fix Raiders Defense and Leave O Alone

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    Hiring a defensive-minded coach could mean that offensive coordinator Al Saunders' job is safe. According to Eddie Borsilli on Twitter, Saunders has been at Senior Bowl practices with Raiders gear on.

    This is what the Raiders need, because Saunders is one of the best in the business. Plus, there's nothing broken on the offense in terms of the Raiders' scheme; it was just players like Darren McFadden that broke.

    Offensive line coach Bob Wylie with assistant Steve Wisniewski did a great job with the offensive line in 2011. They should be allowed to come back in 2012, and hiring a defensive coach definitely gives them a chance to.


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    The process of this head coach hiring was a crazy one, and I'm glad it's over.

    I was a bit skeptical as to whether Reggie McKenzie was overwhelmed at first, but I now believe he's on the right path.

    Its not his fault that Winston Moss, the first leading candidate for the job, blew his interview. The good thing is that Dennis Allen is a defensive guy that may very well give some of the great offensive coaches on the staff a chance to stay.

    The offense can build on last year, with Carson Palmer having an offseason and training camp while Darren McFadden returns from injury. I don't expect Tim Tebow to give the Raiders the problems he gave them in 2011 with Allen in the fold, either.

    Will it be 3-4 or 4-3?

    Regardless, the defense will play hard under the youngest head coach in the NFL.

    Just win, baby!