In the back of his mind, the Oakland Raiders' new head coach Dennis Allen probably envies the heck out of college coaches.
I mean, imagine getting a new job in an unfamiliar place with relatively high expectations and then getting to ease into it with games against a junior college, division six school and a known commodity that was decades from being relevant.
Instead, Allen's first game as head coach really couldn't get any bigger.
For starters, it's against arguably the team's biggest rival, San Diego, and it's on the biggest stage possible, Monday Night Football.
While some might posit that four preseason games is the equivalent to the opening weeks of an NCAA schedule, the difference is that NFL preseason games don't count. In fact, Oakland's forgettable 1-3 performance over the past month has already been wiped from the slate.
That said, a dud on Monday night won't do Allen any favors and it all starts on defense.
With the Black Hole anxiously awaiting the performance of a Raiders defense that is finally under the helm of a defensive-minded head coach, expectations remain high despite a shaky preseason. One thing working in Allen's favor is the presence of Oakland's defensive leader, Richard Seymour, and the rest of the first-team defense, which has seen limited time thus far.
On offense, expectations don't get any lower for Allen and his staff.
With offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and offensive line coach Frank Pollack already catching heat from fans for the lack of consistency exhibited thus far, Monday night will once again be a major test.
Now those around the league would stress the need for patience and time when it comes to a new coaching staff, the Raiders faithful is beginning to get fed up with calls for patience after years of disappointment.
The good news for Knapp and the Oakland offense is that most of the weapons in their arsenal will be healthy come Monday night, including speedster Denarius Moore, who practiced today for the first time in weeks.
With a group of Carson Palmer, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Moore alongside guys like Rod Streater, Juron Criner and Marcel Reece, there's no shortage of firepower this season.
All of this, however, brings us back to Allen.
The pieces are there on both sides of the ball, but it's up to him to right the ship and lead these guys into battle. While some argue that coaching might not really matter, Oakland's track record in recent years seems to suggest differently.
All the talk at camp and around the league has been positive in praising Allen for his demeanor, knowledge and charisma, but none of those things can win football games.
I've got a good feeling that Allen is the start of something big in Oakland and that he could be around for years to come, but before we get to far ahead of ourselves, we have to look at Monday.
Monday Night Football.
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