The Oakland Raiders' 18th head coach in franchise history has wasted little time in filling out, or at least seeking members for, his staff.
Dennis Allen was rejected by former boss John Fox to interview Denver linebackers coach Richard Smith for the Raiders' vacant defensive coordinator job.
Fox Sports is reporting that Kelly Skipper will be brought back in the same position he has held the last five years in Oakland—running backs coach. Skipper has been through several coaches in those five years, and he has been re-united with a former co-worker.
It has been confirmed that Greg Knapp will return to the Raiders as offensive coordinator under Dennis Allen. Knapp was the offensive coordinator for the Raiders during the turbulent 2007-08 seasons that saw Lane Kiffin come and go and then Tom Cable was promoted. Cable would then strip Knapp of play-calling duties and fire Knapp after that 5-11 2008 season.
I have heard a comparison to Chuck Bresnahan's return, and that's a horrible comparison. Knapp was fired by Cable, and we know what a brilliant mind "The Cable Guy" is. Bresnahan never was successful in the NFL, and at his finest hour, had an offense led by Rich Gannon to rely on for a bailout.
Knapp has proven himself elsewhere in the NFL like this last season when he mentored a rookie QB (T.J. Yates) into a playoff winner. Knapp also had success in Atlanta with Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn. Before that, Knapp was in the playoffs with the San Francisco 49ers at the beginning of the decade.
The last time Knapp was with Oakland, he had the Al Davis mandated quarterback JaMarcus Russell as well as a battle between Daunte Culpepper and Josh McCown while Russell was a holdout in his rookie season. Although Knapp's offense ranked 27th in 2007, that year began the Raiders return to respectability.
In 2007, the Raiders ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing, and they continue to be a top rushing team. And back then, the Raiders best running back was Justin Fargas, and with all due respect to him, the Raiders are better now with Darren McFadden, and hopefully, Michael Bush returning next season.
Also improved from Knapp's first tour of duty is the passing game. Russell is gone and Carson Palmer is in. The Raiders also have much better receivers with Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore as well as Jacoby Ford.
The offensive line also improved dramatically with coaches Bob Wylie and Steve Wisniewski as well as Stefen Wisniewski who could be either the center or left guard. Also new to the offensive line is left tackle Jared Veldheer who is among the better blindside blockers in the NFL.
I wasn't crazy about Greg Knapp getting this job replacing Al Saunders for the sake of continuity in the offense, but Knapp has a good track record around the NFL, and at his young age (48, he could be the Raiders' offensive coordinator for years to come.