When Reggie McKenzie was hired he said that “this was the beginning of a new era.” Well, Reggie was true to his word. Within weeks of his hire, Reggie completely revamped the coaching staff, and a bright, young, and relatively unknown football mind was named head coach. After serving as defensive coordinator for only one year in Denver, Dennis Allen became the first defensive minded head coach for the Raiders since John Madden. A lot of people were upset with this move. He’s inexperienced. He’s too young. He’s not a flashy, offensive guru. And, he’s not Jon Gruden (let’s face it folks, weren’t we all rooting for Chucky to be back at the helm?).
It’s now been a couple of months since Allen was hired, and although at first I was one of the main proponents in thinking about all those negatives, I have began to change my mind. And although he has not done much yet (he hasn’t had much time to do anything anyway), let me tell you why I’m beginning to feel optimistic about this hire.
1. As much as I loved Hue, the man was as erratic as a pin ball machine. Sure, he was a gifted football mind, but the man had more of a Napoleon complex than Napoleon Bonaparte himself! I’ve only seen Allen talk a few times, but from his message to his demeanor, the man seems to be sensible and respectful – two things that were lacking from Hue’s skill set.
2. His football acumen. The man (Allen) is a defensive guy. Yeah, it’s not sexy. But it’s highly necessary – especially with the Raiders. Ask yourself this: when was the last time the Raiders had a respectable defense? I’d venture to say it’s been over 30 years since an opposing offense feared the skill set and defensive scheme and strategy of the Raiders.
3. Reggie’s commitment to excellence and his new coach. 5 years. That’s how long Allen’s contract is. In silver and black land, that type of job security and commitment to give something a chance is unheard of! Even Hue Jackson, a man the late Al Davis absolutely loved, only got two years. This type of newfound commitment to the man directing the ship can only be a good thing – especially with the turnover we’ve seen in Oaktown this past decade.
So there you have it, my short list, based off of nothing Dennis Allen has done, that gives me initial optimism for our new leader. In just two weeks my optimism will be put to the test as McKenzie and Allen embark on their first NFL draft together. Should be an interesting one, and one that I’m not only excited to see, but to write about as well!