Hue Jackson kept it real. A little too real on his way out of Oakland. He was right to call out his defense for their poor performance just wrong to do it at the end of the season. Timing is everything. Coaches throw other coaches and players under the bus all the time. Let’s not act like Jackson’s post-Charger press conference was the first time we’ve ever seen an NFL head coach name names.
Now, had he done that…oh…let’s say in week 2 when his defense folded against Buffalo then his words might be viewed much differently. For sure Jackson should have accepted blame too instead of only deflecting it. But he was saying what most of us were thinking.
Timing is indeed everything. Dennis Allen knows that. Jackson’s poorly timed tirade cost him a job but opened the door for Allen.
In steps the first head coach of the Raiders with a defensive pedigree since John Madden. Let that sink in for a second.
Some might think that means Al Davis put all his eggs in the offensive basket but truth be told defense was what he cared about most. That’s why the real defensive coordinator of the silver and black was never seen on the sideline on Sundays. Davis ran the defense or he at least told his coaches how it was going to be run. He also sank an obscene amount of money into his defense in recent years with bad to terrible results at best.
Davis was content to reward mediocre players with lucrative deals so long as they fit his formula. Now it is Allen’s job to reinvent the Raider defense. A new formula is badly needed.
Before you could blink Allen and Reggie McKenzie were diving in at the deep end of the problem pool. Stanford Routt took a one-way to Kansas City and its likely more well-paid defenders will be following him out of the East Bay.
the Raiders are said to be aggressively looking for linebackers in free agency and the draft. That pretty much says Kamerion Wimbley and Aaron Curry should be updating their resumes. One of those two if not both will be going the Routt route. You’ve got to think Rolando McClain is getting the benefit of the doubt for now. It helps to be young, athletic and a top-10 draft choice. But his time could be coming at this time next year of some serious improvement isn’t seen.
During his combine presser Allen indicated that he’d be working hands-on with all areas of the team but especially the defense. Last year was Allen’s first as a defensive coordinator and in a short period of time he took the Denver Broncos from the bottom of the league to a respectable middle standing among NFL defenses. Not the kind of stuff that will remind you of what Buddy Ryan did for the Bears back in the day but none the less better than what we saw in Oakland.
Clearly Allen wasn’t too impressed with what he saw from the Raiders last season…at least not on defense. He has plenty of respect for Oakland’s explosive offense. That’s not the problem.
The problem is getting the right personnel in place for whatever system Allen plans to install. So far he’s been keeping it a secret just what kind of front the Raiders will utilize. But much of that will depend on what type of players they bring in through free agency and the draft.
The bigger problem is that the Raiders are well over the cap and are pretty much without any meaningful picks in the draft. McKenzie doesn’t have the franchise in such a place that Allen will be able to implement all the changes he’d like in one year so this is going to be a process.
The first priority has got to be retaining Tyvon Branch. Currently the clock is ticking on the deadline for franchise tags to be issued. Perhaps the Raiders are already working out some way to free up enough cash to negotiate a contract with Branch. That almost makes roster moves and restructuring contracts the first order of business. No matter how you slice it this will not be a pretty process. It’s necessary but not necessarily going to be enjoyable.