If Dennis Allen is on his way out soon as Raiders head coach -- as some reports have suggested since Sunday’s blowout loss in London -- there will be many reasons.
He has just eight wins in three-plus seasons, the team isn’t making any forward progress and his coaching decisions have often been questionable.
Also, one recurring theme has been the use – or non-use – of versatile Marcel Reece.
Reece is a Pro Bowl fullback, but he’s actually much more than that. He’s a former college wide receiver who can be a mismatch for linebackers trying to cover him downfield in the passing game, plus he can be a quality running back. In times when injuries have depleted Raiders running backs, Reece has filled in and been even more productive than those who regularly carry the ball.
Yet one question has continued to pop up over the past three years: Why don’t the Raiders use Reece more?
Over the first two games this season, Reece had one carry for zero yards and three catches for 12 yards. In a close loss to the Patriots in Week 3 he had a season-high four touches, with one carry for 7 yards and three catches for 19. But on Sunday in Oakland’s fourth straight loss he again was forgotten: zero carries and one reception for 5 yards.
On a team with few elite offensive weapons, the non-use of Reece is a mystery.
The Raiders obviously believe in him from an organizational standpoint, because they re-signed him to a four-year extension in the offseason. But if the Raiders aren’t in their base offense, Reece often is just standing on the sidelines watching.
Recently, offensive coordinator Greg Olson told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group that Reece hasn’t been forgotten. He’s often part of their structured game plan. But when the situation changes during a game – in other words, the Raiders get behind early – the game plan changes.
“It’s still there,” Olson said of Reece’s role. “I’m aware of it. … There were plays that were designed for him but didn’t end up going there.”
For his part, Reece always has said the right things. As long as the team is winning, he’s fine, he says. He doesn’t have to have a starring role.
But what really is getting to Reece is the Raiders’ continuous free fall. At 0-4, Oakland looks incapable of winning a game. After a bye this weekend, the Raiders’ next opportunity will be against the Chargers in Oakland on Sunday, Oct. 12.
After Sunday’s loss in London to the Dolphins, Reece vented.
“It’s embarrassing to us,” Reece told a reporter after the loss. “It’s embarrassing to the owner. It’s embarrassing to our fans, so many of whom came all the way out there and we didn’t give them anything to be proud of.
“We didn’t give them anything to root for. I feel bad for the fans mostly. They’re so loyal and deserving. We’re not giving them anything right now.”
What Allen might give the fans, at least, is more opportunities to see what Reece can do with the football in his hands. He’s proven he can make plays.