"I really like this football team."
Dennis Allen press conference brief from yesterday at the close of the 2013 mini-camp.
What I like
It is clear coach Allen is a polarizing figure on most Raider fan boards across the globe. You are either impressed with him - a disciplined man with a clear methodology and a calm demeanor, or, you dislike his youth and inexperience and continual lip service to hard work and competition.
Whichever is your opinion, this team probably represents - at least on defense - what he envisions as a competitive, talented group with high character and a willingness to lead on and off the field.
In an article written by Nathan Stuhlbarg
Allen makes an allusion to the veteran depth in the defensive backfield and notes, " we know how to win."
My first reaction was to think about all those Allen detractors bashing his naivete. However, I think what he meant was that collectively we had brought in a veteran secondary with championship and all-star level experience.
Charles Woodson, Usama Young, Tracy Porter, Mike Jenkins and Joselio Hanson bring decades of high level play and professional attitude with them. Heck, Usama Young and Joselio Hanson would have started on our teams of the past. whereas now they are role players - veteran depth and career builders for hopefuls Philip Adams, Brandian Moss and Chimdi Checkwa. The interesting part of this is the latter three started games for us last year.
It is clear the reigning philosophy of our head coach is that to improve on our defensive pass rush, he felt the our DB's needed to play tighter in coverage and make plays on the ball with greater effort. Hanging closer to the opposition WR's would indeed give our front 7 a better chance of pressuring the QB.
When, in light of the fact that arguably two of our best components have not yet been added in to the equation (DJ Hayden and Tyvon Branch) you can see the imprint of the DB-minded Allen.
What I don't like
Is the perception that though there is open competition, one gets the feeling through his answers that he favors certain players over others in the quest.
Some would suggest that Terrell Pryor will never get a clear shot at running with the first unit. Or that we will bring in an establish veteran wide out - if nothing else to push our current group ahead. I would note here that Allen has praise Pryor for his work ethic and improvements. Still, I think he is very Matt Flynn-focused.
Then there is the perception that he is satisfied with the unit on the defensive line with the likes of Houston, Sims and Walker. Many in the press and "experts" have bashed this unit as uninspiring -some even saying their the worst in the NFL.
With all this conjecture it is clear Allen has been allowed to form the team from the defensive backfield up - at least from talent-depth perspective. He has put his stamp on the 2013 Raiders team. Whether you like him or not for the job, he, at least, likes this particular group of players. Experts be damned!