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Rich Gannon: Raiders will be in market for quarterback, not head coach

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Thearon W. Henderson

Rich Gannon made some press this week when he criticized Dennis Allen's decision to replace Matt McGloin with Terrelle Pryor for the team's third drive of the game Sunday against the Jets. He appeared on Bay Area radio station 95.7 The Game Tuesday where he explained his reasoning behind his hard line stance against the move as well as his overall take on the status of Dennis Allen and the Raiders quarterbacks.

"I just think the decision to take McGloin out when they did, even if it was something that was talked about, to me was not a good decision," said Gannon. "Basically that's what I tried to say. The weather was cold outside, you're trying to develop some rhythm, some consistency going up against a Rex Ryan coached defense, you've got a rookie quarterback out there, he needs the snaps, he needs to be out there on third down, he needs to be in the flow of the game. The idea to pull him out, sit him down for a series and then stick him back out there was probably not the best one."

It wasn't so much Gannon's opinion on the matter that made waves, it was how he kept on about it for what was the better part of the first half. Of course this led many to believe Gannon has some kind of grudge against Dennis Allen or Terrelle Pryor or just the Raiders in general. But Gannon said that was simply not the case.

But while he said he supports the Raiders quarterbacks, he doesn't think either of them will give the Raiders a reason not to look elsewhere to improve the position.

"I don't know if the starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders is on that team right now for next year. I think regardless of what happens in the next three games that the Raiders are going to be in the quarterback market. The Raiders are going to look to whether it's free agency or it's the draft I think the Raiders have to look at ways to improve the depth and talent that they have at the quarterback position."

I've seen those who say it is too soon to evaluate either Pryor or McGloin. That Pryor's nine starts and McGloin's four starts simply aren't enough to get a good grasp on what kind of quarterback they are capable of being. Gannon disagrees.

"I think they've got a pretty good sense of who they are," Gannon continued. "I don't think it takes guys eight games or ten, twelve games to figure out whether a guy can play or not. I think over a four-week period, you get a pretty good sense of who they are, are you seeing steady improvement, are you seeing a guy that can do the things that it takes to be successful, are you seeing some consistency, evaluate his decision making. I think they've got a pretty good sense. I've had these conversations with both Dennis Allen and Greg Olson. I think Greg Olson has been very candid with us, in production meetings about who they are, what they do well, what they don't do well, what their strengths are, what his opinion is on the long term future of this team."

Where Gannon gives much of the credit for the improvements on offense this season is to offensive coordinator, Greg Olson, and what he's done with the hand he's been dealt this season.

"I think he's getting more done with less," said Gannon. "I'm not necessarily talking about Terrelle or Matt. I think he's also [done well with] the [Darren] McFadden and [Rashad] Jennings situation. I mean, think about last week; the top three running backs were out. I mean, when's the last time that happened to a football team? . . you look at the changes they've had on the offensive line. I don't think they've had the five same starters in the game two or three weeks in a row.

"I think Greg Olson has done as fine a job as probably any coordinator in football this year when you really consider what he's had to work with. It's not like they've got a lot of top ten talent at the skill positions. He's had two inexperienced quarterbacks and I think he's put together some terrific game plans and allowed these guys and put these guys in a position to succeed."

Dennis Allen and his staff have taken a great deal of criticism for the play of the team this season and the fact that it appears they could be headed for a second 4-win season, which would make Dennis Allen 8-24 in his two seasons in Oakland. That is another area Gannon disagrees with the popular criticism. He sees the job of the coaches as well as general manager, Reggie McKenzie, as a strong one, all things considered.

"That wasn't a situation like Kansas City where you go in there one year with Andy Reid and you've got a lot of good personnel, you've got draft picks, you've got the resources and the money to spend in free agency. That wasn't the same situation that Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie walked into. So, concerning to those guys, I think they should be able to finish what they started, regardless of what happens the remaining three games. I've seen improvement in a number of areas of this football team."

But this is just Gannon's feeling as to what the future holds for this team. What direction they ultimately go will depend on Mark Davis. What will he do? Will he do anything at all? Or will he remain hands-off and let Reggie McKenzie continue to steer the ship? Therein lies the immediate future of the Raiders.

"You always worry about the young owner, or first time owner," Gannon continued. "I think Mark's a smart guy but you worry about who's in his ear. You worry about who he's listening to. Who's he listening to outside the building. Is he listening to just Reggie or is he listening to somebody else? Or a number of people? If he's got an agent calling him telling him ‘hire my guy, I got this guy he's a college guy, he'd be a great head coach'. Are you listening to that nonsense or are you listening to Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen about what's the vision for the future, where have we made improvements, what are our goals in the off-season, where do we need to get better?

"To me the problem, the reason the Raiders are in the midst of eleven straight non-winning season is because there's been too much change. There's been too many decisions that, quite frankly, were not thought through. ‘Fire this head coach, get rid of this quarterback, let's do this, let's trade for this guy' and it's hard to develop a football team that way. When you don't have any consistency at the key positions in your organization."

It will be interesting to see how accurate Gannon's feeling is about the Raiders compared to what they ultimately end up doing this off-season.