Dennis Allen is getting a mulligan on his coaching hires from a year ago, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. The second the season ended Greg Knapp and a few other assistants were shown the exit. Last week Oakland hired Greg Olson as its new offensive coordinator and now Olson has his offensive line coach in former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano as confirmed by the team yesterday.
Where it gets interesting is that not only will Sparano be in charge of getting Oakland’s O-line up to snuff be he’ll also serve as Allen’s assistant head coach. It’s hardly an uncommon practice in the NFL to have assistant head coaches. Tom Cable left Oakland to take the exact same job/title in Seattle as Sparano has now.
Where it gets interesting in that Sparano’s career has been in reverse the last three years. He went from being a head coach in Miami, to an offensive coordinator in New York for the Jets and is now an O-line coach in Oakland. However his added title as assistant head coach would indicate Reggie McKenzie felt Allen needed additional help after the debacle that was last season.
Allen has openly said he has no problem hiring assistants with head coaching pedigree. Sparano certainly has that. He also has a tough task of getting the Raiders back to where they were in the trenches before Allen blew up a successful scheme.
Something else that will be interesting to keep an eye on is the personnel moves McKenzie makes in the coming months. Men like Mike Brisiel and Tony Bergstrom were signed and drafted with the zone blocking scheme in mind. Having had no success in Allen’s preferred system the Raiders are reverting back to what once worked. Will Brisiel and/or Bergstrom still be around for Sparano to coach up? We’ll have to wait and see.