Raiders Move Forward Without Knapp

Dennis Allen fires offensive coordinator and his zone blocking scheme after failures of 2012, vows to get best man for the job

Consider the Raiders’ zone blocking scheme to now be extinct like the dodo bird.

Just a day after the Raiders’ season ended at 4-12, Oakland announced the firing of three assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

Knapp, who came from the Houston Texans as part of Dennis Allen’s new staff, instituted the zone blocking scheme this season, which immediately became the NFL’s best defense against Darren McFadden.

The Raiders this year finished 28th in the league in rushing offense, and McFadden averaged a career-low 3.3 yards a carry, nearly two yards per carry below his averages of 2011 and 2010. As a team this season, the Raiders dropped to 3.8 yards per carry after averaging 4.5 yards a season ago.

In announcing the firings Monday afternoon, Allen cited Oakland’s inability to run the football as the No. 1 reason for parting with Knapp.

“I think what happened is you realize that it wasn’t working,” Allen told the media. “We weren’t getting the production that we needed to and I felt like we needed to make a change.”

Allen said the process of looking for Knapp’s replacement will start immediately, but there’s no timetable.

“We’ll go until we get the right guy,” said Allen.

Allen says he’s tied to no one offensive scheme or blocking system. Though the power-blocking scheme of 2010 and 2011 was highly successful, Allen isn’t leaning toward any one system at this point, he said.

“I’m not tied to a specific system,” he said. “I’m tied to trying to find out what our players can do really well and try to put them in those positions to give them a chance to have success. I’m looking for production and execution.”

Allen said current assistant Al Saunders, who previously served as offensive coordinator, will be considered.

Also fired Monday were offensive line coach Frank Pollack, linebackers coach Johnny Holland and special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman. Allen told the media he expects no other coaching changes.

Knapp had long been a favorite target of Raiders fans, who still remembered what his offenses were like when he was offensive coordinator in Oakland in 2007-08, and blamed him for many of this season’s offensive failures.

On the “Fire Greg Knapp” Facebook page, fans this season posted a number of criticisms of Knapp, including one that features Knapp’s photo and the question, “Who can stop McFadden? This guy.” Knapp also took a consistent beating from fans on Twitter this season, and many of those fans were happy after hearing the news Monday of his firing.

Wrote one, expressing the thoughts of many: “Thank God Greg Knapp is no longer a coach for the Raiders.”

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