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.