Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen says he expects to return for the 2014 season. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
The Raiders finished the season with six straight losses, a 4-12 record and a defense that regressed as the season rolled on.
Yet at least two reporters, citing sources within the organization, indicate that head coach Dennis Allen will return for a third season in Oakland. That even as the NFL’s “Black Monday” claimed head coaches such the Redskins’ Mike Shanahan and the Browns’ Rob Chudzinksi, Allen would survive.
And that’s exactly as it should be.
In two seasons, Allen’s record is 8-24. Under former owner Al Davis, he might not have even come back for a second season, let alone a third. But the Raiders need continuity, and Allen is a young coach who was hired into a situation where winning has become a lost art and the talent cupboard was bare.
Even before the season, some analysts predicted the Raiders would be so bad they’d earn the No. 1 pick in this April’s draft. They didn’t. They’ll draft fifth overall.
Owner Mark Davis earlier this season stated that the past two seasons have been the “deconstruction” period for the franchise, when it needed to clean house, clear its roster of salary albatrosses, reorganize the structure of its management and change the character of the team.
It’s only right that Allen should now be part of the rebuilding process now that Oakland has cleared cap space for some offseason additions of quality and can bring in another crop of young talent through the draft. The Raiders may even be able to retain offensive tackle Jared Veldheer or defensive end Lamarr Houston.
After Sunday’s 34-14 loss to the Broncos, Allen said he expects to return for his third season.
“I expect to be back, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to come back,” Allen told the media. “Those are decisions that somebody else is going to make, but yeah, I expect to be back.”
Added Allen: “I fully believe that I deserve the opportunity to come back here and get a chance to, as we said, go through the deconstruction phase. I want to be part of the rebuilding phase.”
Both Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle and Michael Silver of NFL.com reported that Allen is expected to be retained for 2014.
As Tafur noted, now that the season is over, GM Reggie McKenzie and Allen will likely be more open about the lack of talent on the roster, and how this offseason will finally be the chance to stockpile talent and depth. Depth has been lacking this past season. Injuries on both offense and defense severely impacted play.
“It’s just the cards that we have to play with,” Allen told reporters Sunday. “This will be the first offseason where we’ve got some money that we can (use to) go out and try to acquire some free agents that we would like to keep here. … It’s been a tough couple of years … on everybody, on the fans, with everybody within the organization with something that needed to be done. We’re excited about the future.”
So, unless Davis suddenly changes his mind because he can woo an attractive coach (read: Jon Gruden), Allen is expected to return.
It may not be a popular move for Raiders fans disgusted by season after season of losing, but it makes sense from an organizational standpoint.
If Allen can get his team to show progress in 2014 with an influx of talent, winning may not be far away. If the Raiders fire Allen and start over, 2014 could again be filled with unseen pitfalls.
As longtime Bay Area News Group columnist Tim Kawakami wrote of the McKenzie-Allen duo: “If you’ve ridden with these two guys this far, you might as well give them one more campaign. It’s a risk, but so is every NFL decision, and if Allen and McKenzie are still in this together, they’re a better risk than almost any other management team the Raiders could assemble any time soon.”