It is time for a New Direction

After  a 23-13 loss at the hands of the divisional rival Chargers, Dennis Allen’s time in Oakland might be up. Him losing the job is not necessarily a reflection of Allen, but a relection of the orginazation.

When Dennis Allen took the job as head coach, he understood what he signed up for. It was going to be a complete overhaul. This was a team who lost its direction, and lost its legendary leader. The franchise needed to create a new culture of winning. No one said it would be easy, and it hasn’t been. The team faced a horrible salary cap situation, work ethic concerns, and more athletecism than football ability.

Dennis Allen is 8-23 as the leader of this team. The team still lacks a franchise quarterback. There  is no consistent #1 reciever or lockdown corner. The defense and offense are both variables week to week. The Raiders still have problems with penalties as they committed 13 against the Chargers. What has really changed?

Well anyone who has watched this Raider team has seen a difference in how they compete. The Raiders play hard, they have bought into Allen’s regime and vision. Unfortunately, that has not lead towins.

Charles Woodson put it into perspective when he said coach Allen just doesn’t have the things he needs. Even another Raider said Allen puts them into a position to win, but it is up to them to do something with it. Therefore, in Allen’s defense maybe he just hasn’t had the talent to compete at this level. The Raiders were predicted to be a bottom feeder team, as they had a record high dead money salary. Allen was forced to weather that storm, along with other pieces of adversity. Fortunately for the Raiders, that dead salary comes off the books this season, and will give the Raiders $70 million in cap space. Does Allen Deserve another shot to lead the Raiders once they have more talent?

Many reporters and people close to the Raiders have defended Allen and have said he deserves to stay. Even owner Marc Davis has preached patience. However, The Raiders do not owe Allen anything other than the money he is due. 

I understand Dennis Allen has done much of the dirty work by leading a talent defecient team. Maybe it would be fair to see what he can do with a better squad, but no one said the NFL was fair. Hue Jackson got fired after one 8-8 season. The two are different circumstances, but that is an indication of how cut throat this league is.

I understand there are people in the Raiders organization craving stability. Some will say an Allen firing will signal the same old Raiders, and compare Marc Davis to Al Davis. My question is, What stability is there in the organization right now? Every starters job is in question. Even the teams most consistent players could benefit from more competition for their jobs.

The fact is, the Raiders still don’t have an identity after 2 seasons. Sure there seems to be a sense that the Raiders are moving in the right direction, and Allen seems to have a better vision of building a team than previous coaches. However, if Davis really bought into Allen’s vision he would have indicated that by renewing all of the  assistants contracts. If the Raiders do decide to replace  their assistant coaches then Allen shouldn’t be saved either. They either buy into Allen completely, or sell him completely.  If they wait another season then the backlash will be worse. The Raiders will have committed to Allen’s draft picks, Allen’s free agents, and Allen’s assistances, which will lead them to rebuilding again.

Hence, I don’t think the Raiders can move forward with Allen at head coach. Having an 8-23 coach doesn’t exactly attract the big name free agents the Raiders need.Neither do you want the Raiders new draft class having to deal with a coaching overhaul next season. Keeping Allen signifies stability, which is great. But The Raiders need tangible results, which are wins, and they might have took look else where to find that. The Raiders are better off starting the process now, while the slate is blank, rather than waiting for next season.

If the team struggles out of the gate then fans and media will call for Allen’s job. A midseason fire/interim coach situation is not something the Raiders can afford to deal with. Firing Allen and going back to the drawing board will not be that bad because the Raiders still haven’t built anything. Maybe committing to Allen is the start to building something and stability, however, the Raiders should build something with a new leader.

Dennis Allen seems to be widely respected around the league, and I am sure he will find a coordinator position. He should eventually  land another head gig, because his struggles were not all his fault. I do not think his firing is an indication of his ability to lead or coach, as Allen did the best with what he had.  It is an indication of the direction the Raiders are going. Regardless of what he has dealt with, Allen simply hasn’t had the results he wants or deserves. Firing Dennis Allen will be the example of accountability that Reggie Mckenzie has preached since he became GM of the Raiders. The Raiders want to win, and they need a coach who has done that. 

Now that Dennis Allen has moved the Raiders out of the bottom and into respectability, it is time for a new leader to move them into success. The new coach will have a clean slate to mold the team in their vision, as the team has a full slate of draft picks and tons of cap space. Better days are ahead of The Raiders, and Allen deserves a lot of credit for helping this team move out of obscurity.  It may not be fair to Allen, but The Organization needs a new face to lead to excellence.

Not For Long Raiders….

To most the NFL stands for National Football League, but to many others it stands for Not For Long. My oh My, what a difference a few weeks makes in the NFL.

A few weeks ago the Raiders were a young team aspiring for the Playoffs.

There hopes were centered around an explosive, Athletic Quarterback named Terrelle Pryor, a pro-bowl RB named Darren Mcfadden, and a breakout WR named Denarious Moore.

Fast forward a few weeks and the Raiders Playoff hopes are microscopic enough to rival Jamarcus Russell’s comeback hopes.

Not only has QB Terrelle Pryor gotten hurt, but he was superseded and outplayed by an undrafted rookie named Matt McGloin.

McFadden has been hurt all season, and veteran Rashaad Jennings has many people wondering if McFadden’s days in Silver and Black are numbered.  Moore has been the same inconsistent and banged up player fans have become accustomed to, but Andre Holmes has stolen much of his spotlight.

As a Raider Fan, it is hard to not see such talented players not succeeding for the Raiders. As fans, every week we tell ourselves this is the week that McFadden, Reece, or Pryor will get it.

While there have been glimpses, this is a league based on results.  They haven’t gotten it done, and the team is suffering.

In Contrast, as an organization, the team is happy with the success of McGloin, Jennings, and Holmes.

This is an example of the ‘next man up’ culture of competition that Reggie Mckenzie has wanted to established.

In context, we can apply the old cliche. If you have two than you really don’t have one, and for the Raiders that is the case at WR, RB, and QB.  Therefore, the team may be competitive, it may be on the rise, but talent is still lacking. Maybe the team isn’t the last place team ESPN analyst’s initially

thought they were, but they aren’t the Playoff team fans hoped for either.

In a recent interview, Coach Dennis Allen talked about this team being different

than last year’s. Allen said he doesn’t expect this team to quit on the season

or lose commitment.  Part of that is probably because much of the team has one year remaining on their contracts, and everyone is playing for contract somewhere.

The truth is, Allen can not afford to have this team quit on him. Allen may have all the potential in the world, but this is a league of results. Just ask McFadden.  Owner Marc Davis wants progress andfailing to win a few of the remaining games will result in Allen leading the unemployment line.

If McKenzie wants a culture of accountability it starts at the Head Coach, runs through the Quarterback, Runningback, and Wide Receivers. I just worry, the Raiders might get derailed if they have to replace all four. Regardless, no ones job on this team is safe, and these last four games will determine the faces of the franchise team going forward.

Either way, The Raiders have 70 million in cap room next season. Brighter days are finally on the horizons of this team, but these last four games will determine who is apart of it.  If this Raiders team is really different than the last 10 other losing teams, they are certainly running out of time to show it.

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Corner Competition

The Oakland Raiders defensive Backs took turns getting picked apart last season. Throughout the season guys got, hurt, guys got signed, yet they were all interchangeably bad. This season the Raiders completed a complete overhaul of the entire secondary in hopes of reversing this culture. In The process they drafted a player in the first round and signed a few veterans with experience and a lot to prove. This unit has so much swagger that they practice with Blue Balls because there harder to find in the light

corner

Ideally, The Raiders hope that this new found swagger will change the dynamic of the defense. So lets assume that DJ Hayden turns out to be exactly what the raiders drafted him to be. If Hayden fully recovers and is able to translate his game to the professional level then he should be able to seize a starting spot at corner.

After that, the Oakland Raiders brought in a couple of savy veterans whom they hope will play chip on their shoulder.

Tracy Porter is a fimiliar face to Dennis Allen as the two worked together in New Orleans. Porter’s athletecism and ball skills have kept Porter in the league. His gambles, injuries, and tackling abilities lead him to the bench and a third team in three years.

Michael Jenkins was once a big time draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys who was expected to be a lock down corner out of USF. Initially Jenkins had plenty of success as a starter, but soon offenses began to pick him apart and he fell out of favor with Dallas.

Both guys have NFL starting experience. Both guys have made plays at the highest level of the game. Each has a slightly different skill set, but both are capable of being starting cornerbacks. One of the two is just going to have to stand out by playing with the bigger cheap on its shoulder.

Personally I’m gunning for Jenkins because he possess a bigger all around skillset. He has unique size and speed to match up in zone or man coverage. Jenkins does lack the ball skills and ability to create turnovers which is Porters strength, but I think the raiders defense could use the versatility and consistence.

We won’t even know who the winner will be until these guys start wearing shoulder pads instead of shorts and tee shirts. I want to see which one of these cornerbacks has more confidence after suffering a lack of success. The one with the bigger chip will be the one contributing on sunday. Who are are you taking to start at corner? I’m sure your happy as I am that it won’t be Ron Bartell LOL

The Raiders Dark Horse

pryor

After mini-camp, The Oakland Raiders have taken a lot of criticism over their quarterback play.

Anyone who has played football, knows that it is way too early to make assumptions about the Raiders play as they are still shorts and tee shirts. However the amount of ducks and inaccurate throws by the teams three quarterbacks has given precedent to experts being skepical of the 3’s ability to play. Reporters even labeled the Raiders mini-camp as one of the worst showings of NFL mini-camps ever.

Espn’s Jaworski labeled Matt Flynn the worst starting quarterback. This comes a year after Flynn lost his starting job with the Seahawks to Russell Wilson. Fourth round selection, Tyler Wilson has shown flashes of ability but his lack of experience and reliance on physical ability instead of mechanics caused him to fall to the fourth round. And then there is Terrelle Pryor. Pryor was one of the most decorated quarterbacks entering his senior year at Ohio State, before he was the face of one of the NCAA’s biggest recruiting scandals. The previous regime felt the Ohio State stand out was still worthy of a third round pick in the NFL’s Supplemental draft.

Coach Dennis Allen, has since said that Matt Flynn is the starting quarterback until the competition dictates otherwise. While Flynn is the highest paid of the group, I would caution Allen of putting all his eggs in one basket. Allen may not feel pressure to play Pryor because he did not draft him, but I would think otherwise.

The NFL stands for Not For Long, and if Allen thinks he will be safe after another year of mediocrity, he has another thing coming. The fact of the matter is the Raiders are not the most talented of teams, and they need to find ways to win games. I find it hard to believe that a 6’4 , 4.5 running quarterback doesn’t give this team its best chance to win. Pryor is probably the second or third most explosive play-maker on the entire team. This is why many people are urging the quarterback to change positions, but I disagree. In a league where athletic quarterbacks, gimmick offensives, and options are dominating the competition, the Raiders best bet it is to jump on the train before they get left. Pryor has had his best seasons in a run option spread system similar to what Cam newton, Tim Tebow, and RGII are having success with. His size and athleticism open up even more dimensions and wrinkles to the Raiders Offense. Defenses around the league will have to respect both Pryor and Mcfadden in the option. Meanwhile his size and athleticism make him a threat to tuck it or chuck it from the pocket.

Sure Pryor has tones to learn in terms of becoming a quarterback at this level, but so do the other two people in the group.  I mean what is the worst thing that could happen? Many people already predict the Raiders to walk away with #1 pick, but atleast pryor will fill a few more seats, and get a few more highlights. Playing Pryor and them losing will show Allen exhausting all of his resources. If Allen elects not to utilize Pryor, many fans and officials will call for the coaches jobs as he will be quilty of not exhausting all of his resources, and that is what every coach is hired to do. I for one, just want to see what the young player is capable with, so that we can move along. I know Pryor is a competitor and gamer just as much as he is an athlete and the god given ability should have some translation to on the field results. So don’t forget about Pryor when you think about the Raiders QB competition, as his ability combined with great coaching could be scary for opposing defenses.