Recently there's been a lot of debate as to who the head coach of the Raiders will be for the 2013-14 season.
I'll give you the answer right now. His name is Dennis Allen.
No matter how much some of the noisier, "instant results" corners of Raider Nation may be wringing their hands and baying for blood following our regression this season the fact is that DA is our head coach and he is here to stay.
Last off-season, when Reggie McKenzie was looking for head coaches, he had a few options. Oakland wasn't the best job on the market but there was some intriguing young talent here based around a veteran quarterback. Reggie also had all his contacts from Green Bay who were rumoured. Winston Moss, Dom Capers, Joe Philbin...all were experienced and probably more "ready" to take the next step than a 38 year old with only one year of DC experience.
Reggie hired Dennis anyway. And he did so for one reason above all.
Most of Raider Nation viewed last year's team as just a few steps away from the playoffs and just needing some consolidation. Reggie looked at the team and he saw what they were - a fatally flawed squad who got a lot of lucky breaks (the Divine Interception, beating Minny/Chicago with no AP or Cutler, two blocked FGs saving the second KC game) to even get to 8-8. I'm sorry to say it but it's the truth. With no high draft picks or cap room to re-make the team, he knew that it would need to be torn down in one season (this year), then the rebuild would begin in 2013. Experienced coaches/coordinators don't usually want to be part of a "blow it all up and start all over again" process. Reggie knew that and also probably realised that this job wasn't the best fit for any of the GB guys knocking on the door.
At the same time, a job like the Raiders in our current state is perfect for a young HC like Dennis. As a young and inexperienced coach it was inevitable he would have some growing pains. However, what we have in him is a guy who has the potential to grow into something pretty great as a head coach and bring the rest of this team with him. Just like players, coaches have upside and Reggie brought in Dennis knowing he had a metric f*ckton of upside.
Now comes the test for Allen. He's had a year in the job and while his position is relatively safe, he needs to show some balls regarding the rest of his staff. Like him, DC Jason Tarver is a young and bright mind and deserves another shot given that the D have been playing with a bit more heart the last couple of weeks. He's showing progress as well - making some decent adjustments at half time of the Denver game and locking down the KC rush attack this week. If nothing else, I want to see how he goes with vaguely competent cornerbacks and a better pass rush, both of which we should have next year.
However, the hatchet job Greg Knapp's done on our offense speaks for itself. Unlike on D, we had no serious offensive losses this year save for Michael Bush - still we cratered, killed the confidence of our star running back and ran the most boring offense in the NFL. The Raiders can be many things but boring and predictable should never be one of them. Our special teams have also been mediocre to atrocious all season. Dennis has to show he's willing to make the hard decisions and sack both Knapp and ST coordinator Steve Hoffman this off-season.
Both of them were hired because an inexperienced guy like Dennis only has so many contacts. Assistants tend to be guys you know, have worked with before and trust.
Either way, Dennis Allen is our head coach for next season and most likely the one after that. So let's drop that argument and focus on the real problem - getting Knapp's ass outta town. I'll be writing up soon on some guys I'd like to see as our next OC and why they'd be good choices.
END NOTE: Since it's in the code of the Raider blogger that "one can not write about Raider coaches without mentioning Jon Gruden" I'm just going to say it here. I do not want Gruden back.
Yeah, it was great when he was here. But it was great because we had a terrific team. Gruden was a good coach but he's not this transcendent figure that many Raider fans believe he is. You can see as much from his time in Tampa Bay. When he had Dungy's teams he won the SB, but when those teams came apart and he had to oversee a rebuilding project where he had a lot of personnel input he struggled. Chucky as a coach is only as good as the players around him. He's not like a Lombardi or Madden figure.
Right now we don't have a good team and we won't be good for a couple of years. Gruden as coach will not magically make us good. End of story.