May 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen watches players stretch during rookie minicamp at the Raiders team headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen Has Built His Team


Jun 3, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It’s easy to judge a person based upon their initial performance or at face value.  Many Raider Haters do just that on a daily basis.  However, when you get deep down and find out who a person really is, that’s when they become known.

Oakland Raiders Head Coach Dennis Allen has been labeled many things lately.  A good friend of mine calls Dennis Allen a Opey (Andy Griffith Show) look-alike.  I’ve heard friends of mine say he doesn’t demonstrate any authority upon the field.  I’m here to shed some light upon who Dennis Allen is and hopefully change their minds.

Dennis Allen was born in Hurst, Texas, and is currently 40 years of age.  His father, Grady Allen, was a standout linebacker for the Texas A&M University Aggies and later for the Atlanta Falcons.  Dennis Allen also attended Texas A&M University and played safety for the Aggies.  In 1996, Allen signed with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent safety.  When Allen didn’t make the 53 man roster for the Buffalo Bills, he went back to Texas A&M and accepted a coaching job as Graduate Assistant Coach under Head Coach R.C. Slocum.

Allen remained at Texas A&M until the year 2000, when he accepted a job for the University of Tulsa as their Secondary Coach.  In 2002, he was hired by the Atlanta Falcons as a Defensive Assistant/Quality Control Coach.  In 2006, he was hired by the New Orleans Saints as their Assistant Defensive Line Coach, and then promoted to the Secondary Coach for the Saints in 2008.  In 2011, Allen was promoted to Defensive Coordinator for the Denver Broncos.  Ultimately, he was hired as the Head Coach for the Oakland Raiders on January 30, 2012.

Dennis Allen is a journeyman NFL coach who has learned under Head Coaches Dan Reeves, Wade Phillips, Jim Mora, Sean Payton, and John Fox.  Allen is known for his “bend but don’t break” defensive play calling that gives up a lot of yards, but it also forces many sacks and turnovers.  He was a member of the 2009 New Orleans Saints World Championship coaching staff.  In 2011, as Defensive Coordinator, his defense helped lead the Denver Broncos to a playoff berth.  Allen knows how to be a winner.

Unfortunately, and along with General Manager Reggie McKenzie, he inherited a football team that had mortgaged its future.  His task was to rebuild the Oakland Raiders and make them winners again.  However, Carson Palmer’s contract had given away much-needed draft picks in 2012 and 2013.  Other player’s bloated and unearned contracts had left Oakland without any cap-space to sign key free agents to fill the holes in both defense and offense.  Things had to change.

Due to the lack of draft picks, no cap room, Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp’s play-calling/zone-blocking scheme, and many injuries that were sustained in the early 2012 season, Dennis Allen’s reputation and team record fell to 4-12.  However, there were bright spots in the 2012 season.  5 of the 6 draft picks that Dennis Allen helped to interview and sign made the 53 man roster and remain today.  The one that did not make the team, linebacker Nathan Stupar, is currently with the San Francisco 49ers.  Greg Knapp lost his play calling ability, and, although too late, the offense began to improve ever so slightly.

With the firing of Greg Knapp and the hiring of Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson, the team is made up of the coaches that Dennis Allen recruited.  A new and better system is being installed.  The system is not new by any means, but it is a system that has won many championships throughout the years.  I’m talking about the “build your team around the players you have” system.  Unfortunately for Coach Allen, his first year didn’t go so well, but his second year will prove to be his coming out party.

Coach Allen, along with GM McKenzie, has brought in good, quality players who have football fundamentals.  Some are talented and have proven themselves.  Others are talented but have something to prove.  None have guaranteed roster spots or starting positions.  None of the contracts are bloated.  In fact, most of the contracts are for a short term.  He has revamped the defense and offense.  The reset button has been pushed.  If judgment is passed, and it most certainly will be, let 2013 be the year to evaluate who the Oakland Raiders are under the regime of Head Coach Dennis Allen.  This is his team now, not the team he inherited in 2012.

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Dennis Allen New Orleans Saints Oakland Raiders Reggie McKenzie Texas A&M University

  • Erin Charles Wooldridge

    I have to wonder if you work for the team? I think most diehard fans already know this about the Allen. He made too many mistakes last year. The Knapp fiasco alone says he’s not THE GUY. I also ask you to go back and read all of his post game interviews last year. He constantly blamed the players and never said ” I need to do better”. That is not a good sign of leadership.

  • Raider Grant

    “At the end of the day” a head coach has to be a leader of men & not be full of excuses like a pansy ! You take what you got & put a team on the field ready to play ball! If your scheme doesn’t work, you don’t wait until your 3/4 way through the season to attempt to fix it. I hope now that Allen has “his players” he can put together something to build off, if not bye bye !

  • Shane Schilperoort

    No, I don’t work for the Oakland Raiders, but I wish that I did. At the end of every game, Coach Allen took responsibilty for every loss. No, he didn’t fire Knapp and turn it around sooner like he should have, but every great leader makes mistakes and must learn from them. I am saying that he learned from his mistakes. This is year two, and we should see an improved team and system. I believe that he will prove you wrong.

  • Cetswayo Dawson

    “A new and better system is being installed.” Really? Get real! They’re going back to the system Dennis shouldn’t have changed in the first place. What about the fact that he played Matt Leinert of all people over Pryor long after the Raiders were out of the playoffs? It was the perfect time to see what the team had in the future with TP. In addition, it would have given TP some needed game experience. Matt frickin Leinert?? So far, obviously, at the end of the day, Dennis Allen has been a joke. His account is in the negative.

  • Luis Hernandez

    You can not expect Allen to take this football team and make them into Super Bowl contenders in just one year. It’s impossible, considering the problems he inherited when taking the job. Not to mention that he has never been a head coach before, until offered the job by Mckenzie. Yeah we all would have wanted him to give us instant gratification of another Super Bowl, or the playoffs, or even just a winning season in just one year, but just look at the facts:
    -Over paid, underachieving players which he had no part in signing.
    -No cap room to speak of.
    -The passing of Al Davis still fresh to the franchise.
    -Trying to correct Davis’ somewhat rash moves to the roster in attempts to “win now”.

    Watching this football team not pick until the 3rd round because draft picks were being traded away, and only having very few picks in total is just not the formula of a winning team. Now that the storm has calmed, the Palmer trade behind us, our cap situation under control for next year, the overhaul of pretty much the entire roster nearly complete, and having Reggie not only mentoring Allen, but righting the ship that is the Oakland Raiders, I think we can all see that our time is coming.

    Allen’s first year of learning on the job can be seen as a failure, yes. Picking Knapp as our OC was a naive/stupid move that was a waste of a season, yes. Is he really seen as a head coach in many people’s eyes, probably not, but I’ll tell you this though. Reggie is a very good judge of talent, and for him to choose Allen as our HC, he must see something in this guy that a lot of us can’t. With all the moves done this offseason, actually having his hand in a decent draft and free agency, and all our coaching changes as a whole, Allen can only make this team better by exactly what this article says, building it his way, which is around the players, not around a system. Unfortunate growing pains, but now he has no excuse not to succeed. In Mckenzie we trust!

  • Shane Schilperoort

    As frustrating as it is, Dennis Allen never wanted Terrelle Pryor. Pryor was one of those Al Davis pickups. Unfortunately for Pryor, it isn’t going to work out in Oakland. He will be trade fodder or released eventually. It’s either going to be Matt Flynn or Tyler Wilson. The roses are blooming, so wake up and smell them. As much as some of us would love to see Pryor play, Allen doesn’t want him there. Wilson will be the QB of the future…

  • Jay Haskins

    I agree with everything you said about how Pryor should have been playing sooner, Matt frickin Leinert?? and all of that. But because I believe Pryor will have such a phenomenal preseason, It will be too hard for DA to justify keeping him off the field. The creme will rise to the top

  • brian

    How long did he have to.hire Knapp? He was one of the last decent coordinators around at the time. If he went for an unproven guy(not that Knapp is proven just experienced and came from Texans) it would have been a 1st time: GM, Coach, O-Coordinator, and D- Coordinator.
    Obviously he knew Knapp was a mistake and canned him quick. He brought in Olsen, who’s highly regarded, brought in sparono to help the O-line, and is getting the scheme to fit the players.
    D.A. and R.M. are building this team right.

  • Hangtownie

    Last year – Vince Lombardi would of went 4-12 – Al Davis loved players to a fault which is the biggest problem the raiders have had. R.M. and D.A. have this team moving in the right direction. If people want to split hairs between starting Pryor or Leinert when the team really had other more pressing issues. (Middle LInebacker). Really. I knew last year was just a long preseason to see who was worth keeping. Personally I think they will surprise some folks next year.

  • Patrick Allen

    I am so tired of viewing article after article full of excuses for the Oakland Raiders, Reggie Mckenzie, and Dennis Allen for what they inherited when they got here! Bla Bla Bla the truth is they have inherited a .500 team and since they got there the team in every statistical measure you can find has gotten woefully worse. This 5 – 6 player that he has helped interview not one of them is impact players on this team meaning no good so much so you did not even bother to mention them or even know yourself who they are now is that impressive I don’t think so who in the hell are you trying to fool!! This guy Dennis Allen was unprepaired as a Head Coach first game of the season no back up long snapper need I say more okay lets move on what player did this guy develop during the season last year 4-12 none okay lets move. You’ve done nothing to convince me in this article about Dennis Allen that he is somebody special besides maybe what his wife and kids may think that he is!

  • Raider Grant

    Your comment is full of truthful facts. The most truthful being “not to mention that he has never been a head coach before”! Best thing if Dennis Allen fails again, we hopefully hire a coach who has had a winning track record in the NFL,or college & no one can say he wasn’t a head coach before! 4-12 & counting! Prove me wrong DA & go Raiderrrrs!

  • Cetswayo Dawson

    I don’t disagree that it seems as though DA doesn’t want TP there. He’s a young guy who has the right attitude and a great work ethic. It’s clear he has talent and will work his butt off to improve as a passer. He has a tremendous ability to get away from sacks and run for a first down if there’s no one open. So, what could the reason possibly be for DA not wanting TP around? I wonder?

  • rioderek

    You just illustrated why DA is a failure as a coach and why he always will be. The guy is clueless.

  • rioderek

    He had Al Saunders to work as the OC. Saunders knew the players and the highly successful system used by Hue Jackson. Hiring Saunders would have made for a easy transition on the offensive side of the ball. Both Spots and Denise made terrible mistakes to begin their reign.

  • disqus_l6u0E2NqD5

    GOOD WORDS….
    GO RAIDERS!!!

  • disqus_l6u0E2NqD5

    IT WAS CARSON PALMER KID, YOU ARE THE JOKE, AND YOU STARTED THE JOKE AS THE SONG SAYS, SORRY KID.

  • Cetswayo Dawson

    I guess it’s all of Carson Palmer’s deep runs in the playoffs in addition to all the wins he brought to Oakland last year that inspires you to believe in him so. In 11 years Palmer has played two good years of football. You’re the joke for believing the hype. Go see the numbers for yourself and spare me your mindless dribble.

  • DuhRaiders

    I like what DA and RM have done so far to rebuild. I would have liked to see them trade some of the guys that were cut but if there isnt a market, what can you do? With that said, it wont be fair to judge DA on performance until 2014. First year was a mulligan with someone else’s team. This year should be looked at as his first year. If by next year, they are not contending, then we’ll know. One of Al Davis’s big mistakes was that he would only give coaches 2 years ( if that). This created a revolving door type of attitude which carried over to player attitudes. Not to mention, everyone has to learn a new system.

  • The Putting Edge

    Like personnel moves, but not yet a believer in Dennis Allen…thought he went through the motions last year…Raiders were Not competitve…he seemed resigned to his fate..Not Acceptable to me.