Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has two more games this season to produce some positive momentum. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
There are plenty of discussion points for the Raiders following Sunday’s crushing loss to the Chiefs.
What happened to the defense? Why are defenders missing so many tackles? And do Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor have any future at quarterback in Oakland?
But after the Raiders gave up a franchise-worst 56 points Sunday, the No. 1 question is this: Will owner Mark Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie – who have preached patience during a rebuilding of the franchise – keep head coach Dennis Allen around for a third season?
From the outside of the franchise looking in, that’s what NFL analysts are talking about in the wake of the team’s fourth straight loss and sixth in the past seven games.
As Bay Area News Group columnist Marcus Thompson II noted after Sunday’s Raiders loss, it “was another step in the wrong direction.”
“Where was the exigency and hunger that once highlighted the Raiders’ season?” he wrote. “Where is the growth in focus and improved grasp of scheme? That’s on the coaching staff. Not exactly the statement Allen needed to make as owner Mark Davis ponders the trajectory of the franchise.”
Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com wrote that “what the Raiders put on the field against the Chiefs was anything but progress. It was the kind of effort that could send Allen packing … especially if the Raiders follow up this 56-31 blowout loss with two more similar efforts” in the season’s final two games, against the Chargers this Sunday and the Broncos on Dec. 29.
After the Raiders for the first half of the season looked sharper on defense, kept games close and were in position to win several, Oakland has seemed defenseless in its last three losses, to the Cowboys, Jets and Chiefs. And Sunday’s performance – in which Oakland defenders seemed as if they’d never seen a screen pass and the team committed seven turnovers – made it appear to observers that the team is coming apart.
Allen, in fact, told Gutierrez “it’s deflating” to see the team’s struggles now.
The timing of the Raiders’ implosion couldn’t have been worse. In the weeks leading up to the game, owner Mark Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie have continued to preach the long-term view. Davis was quoted as saying the Raiders had been forced to take a path of “deconstruction,” and therefore knew that bad times were ahead. As Bay Area News Group columnist Tim Kawakami wrote last week, Davis has reiterated his support for McKenzie, which likely means support for Allen, who was hired by McKenzie and given a four-year deal.
“That’s all sensible,” Kawakami wrote. “The Raiders are better off keeping both of them than starting a bad cycle all over again by firing a coach after only two seasons and then new ideas come in and maybe there’s some more deconstruction that has to go on.”
But that was before Sunday’s wipeout.
Even the patience of Davis and McKenzie would likely be stretched to the limit with similar performances this week and next and another 4-12 season.
The Raiders have been a revolving door of leadership for too long, and need stability. But Allen’s team can’t continue to slide downhill, faster and faster. The chorus for change may become too loud for Davis to ignore.