I’m fully aware that this blog is has been among the leaders of burying Dennis Allen for many of the mistakes he made during his first year as an NFL head coach. But, in the end, I’ve got to call it the way I see it. So until the next season begins we’ve got months of second guessing coming off of another lost season in Oakland.
So today we’re taking Allen to task for his stubborn stance taken with Oakland’s offense last season.
To be sure Greg Knapp was a bad hire. However Knapp was only the messenger. It wasn’t like he put the bug in Allen’s ear that a zone-blocking scheme with West Coast principles was the way to go. Allen made that call. Not even a month in it was obvious that the offense wasn’t going to work. So instead of making changes Allen stayed the course watching helplessly as the team struggled to win just 4 games.
Another questionable call made by Allen was to keep sending Carson Palmer out onto the field when there was no reason to believe he gave the Raiders anymore of a chance at victory than Terrelle Pryor or even Matt Leinart for that matter.
As we all know it took Allen until the last week of the season to give Pryor his chance despite constant pleas from Reggie McKenzie expressing his desire to see what the young QB could do.
Now if all you do is look at the stats then Pryor’s 150 yards throwing while completing less than 50% of his throws looks rather unimpressive especially in a loss. However if you actually watched the game there is no arguing Pryor brought something to the team that had been lacking all year long.
In the two weeks before Pryor’s start Oakland failed to find the end zone. In San Diego Pryor accounted for all three of the Raiders’ scores throwing for two and running for one including leading Oakland back from a double digit deficit.
Pryor’s lone start combined with Oakland’s largely inept office has led to plenty of changes to the coaching staff and has McKenzie proclaiming that his young QB will have a chance to compete for the starting job in camp. That McKenzie would say that as opposed to Allen says at lot. It indicates McKenzie wanted to see more of Pryor during the season and that one start was enough of a sample size to know he can help this team in ways Palmer simply can’t.
Obviously we all make mistakes the first time we take to an endeavor. Allen is no different. The problem is his pedigree is defense yet he seems to have put far too many fingerprints all over the offense. Going forward it has become clear that Allen’s input on the offense will be lessened as evident by the hiring of Tony Sparano as the assistant head coach.
Once this season hit the midway point you could see where the Raiders were headed. Instead of giving Pryor meaningful reps, Allen kept going at it with Palmer. At no point did Allen even consider giving Pryor an expanded role. That was a mistake. The Oakland offense needed a spark and waiting until the last week to try something different was the wrong move to make. But that is one of many hindsight issues that will haunt Raider Nation in the coming months. In the coming year let’s hope we’re not having the same convo about another player buried on the bench that could have made some kind of a difference.