What will Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis (above) discuss Tuesday with head coach Dennis Allen? (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has a date with team owner Mark Davis Tuesday.
By all indications, it won’t be for Allen to hear, “You’re fired.”
Allen has told the media that he’s already had a meeting with general manager Reggie McKenzie and that his boss had given him an “indication” that Allen will be back for the third year of his four-year contract in 2014.
“I haven’t been told I won’t (return), and so I wouldn’t say there’s any guarantees made,” Allen told reporters this week. “I’m moving forward in that direction. I fully anticipate and fully expect to be the coach of the football team and that’s the way I’m moving forward.”
And, in an interview with Bay Area News Group columnist Tim Kawakami, Davis gave Allen a roundabout vote of confidence, saying: “Really, the only people who’ve been replacing Dennis as coach of the Raiders is the media.”
Allen said it’s important that he gets together to talk with Davis about “the things we need to talk about.”
But what are those topics? When Allen and Davis meet over lunch, coffee or beers, what is likely to be discussed? Some possibilities:
* Expectations: So far, Davis has been patient. Allen has produced back-to-back seasons of 4-12 during what has been called the “deconstruction” phase of the Raiders’ transition from Old Davis (Al) to Younger Davis (Mark). Expect that Younger Davis’ expectations will be clearly spelled out for Allen for the 2014 season. The Raiders’ owner will want to see progress, and that won’t be defined by smaller margins of defeat. In his third year, Allen will need to guide the Raiders to more victories in 2014, and he’ll need to post some victories over quality teams to show he’s the guy. In a way, Tuesday’s meeting will be a performance review, complete with goals.
* Free agency, Part 1: After slashing salaries for two seasons, it’s time to re-invest in the product, and that means, first off, retaining key Raiders free agents such as left tackle Jared Veldheer and defensive end Lamarr Houston. Davis no doubt has heard the wailings of long-faithful Raiders fans, desperate for the team to make some substantial moves toward winning. Expect Allen to want to hear Davis’ commitment to re-signing these players.
* Free agency, Part 2: With more than $60 million in salary-cap space available this offseason, expect Allen and Davis to talk about offseason strategies for bringing in veteran free agents. Building through the draft is McKenzie’s long-term formula for rebuilding the team, but going after a key free agent or two – specifically a quarterback – could be a topic that Davis no doubt will want to hear Allen’s opinions on.
* Coaching staff: After his first year, Allen blew out some key assistant coaches. Then, it was reported recently that Allen wanted to lock up some of his assistants for next year or beyond, but was rebuffed. Now will be the time to talk about assistant coaches. As Davis told Kawakami, “Dennis has to determine what kind of staff he’s going to want.”
* The AFC West: Not too long ago, the division was weak, and moving up the ladder to the postseason didn’t look that hard. Now, keeping up with the Joneses – the Broncos, Chiefs and Chargers are all in the postseason and all have established quarterbacks – looks very difficult. Davis will want to know what kind of team Allen plans on building to turn the tables on the Raiders’ division rivals.
The topics of Tuesday’s meeting may be wide-ranging, or specifically focused. Nobody but Allen, Davis and McKenzie know. But certainly, one theme will emerge: Allen and the Raiders will need to show significant progress in 2014.