Fair or unfair Dennis Allen will find it impossible to avoid questioning about his time as a defensive coach in New Orleans during which the now infamous “bounty scandal” was on-going. Allen might not have ever instructed any members of the Saints secondary he coached to kill for cash but he’s guilty by association. Fair or unfair so too are the Raiders who hired Allen to be their head coach.
As of now both Allen and the Raiders have yet to issues any statement on the matter. That will eventually change.
For the Raiders this scandal means little more than another unnecessary chore of putting out a fire they didn’t start. Reggie McKenzie can’t be worried about anything similar happening in Oakland since nothing like that occurred during Allen’s one year in Denver.
Allen’s role in the ordeal would appear to be minimal at best. His coordinator in New Orleans at the time, Gregg Williams, has admitted guilt and apologized. It was Williams’ show to run and if any of his assistants were involved it would have been at his behest.
Now this does not give Allen a free pass. He might not have had anything to do with the pay for pain scandal but he was in the room with the men who did. The NFL certainly wanted to talk to Allen so naturally the press will as well.
Among the many reasons why McKenzie ultimately chose Allen as his first head coach was due to the defensive prowess he’d bring to the Raiders. It goes without saying that playing defense is as much physical talent as it is a mindset. When Allen was with the Saints under Williams he helped oversee a defense that wasn’t a great one by any stretch but certainly played a physical brand of football.
No doubt McKenzie wants to see something similar from the Raiders.
Truth be told you don’t need to offer bounties in order to get defenders to do their job. That the Saints went that far only suggests that added incentive was needed. I’d never advocate for players attempting to intentionally injury another but it goes without saying that the Raiders could use some inspiration on defense.
Here is where the NFL walks a fine line. Football is inherently a brutal game. Trying to control violence for the purposes of entertainment is a problem unto itself. The league wants an exciting and aggressive product yet only to a certain extent. Coaches expect the same from their players yet cannot encourage dirty tactics. Somehow those lines were blurred in New Orleans.
Allen might not have even known about what was going on during his time in the Big Easy but that is very doubtful. He might not have advocated for the program but he’s linked to it. Fair or unfair, anytime a Raider defender lays the lumber to an offensive player a few eyebrows will be raised and perhaps the line of questioning will begin all over.
For the Raiders this changes nothing. They’ve still got to hope Allen can bring a tough mindset to an otherwise weak defense. McKenzie can’t cosign on a bounty program in Oakland but he can only hope his defense yields similar results to what we saw from the Saints. They did win a Super Bowl after all. Fair or unfair that is the ultimate bottom line in a bottom line business.