The moment Dennis Allen was hired as the Raiders' head coach, the questions surfaced as to whether he would be hiring a defensive coordinator or calling the plays himself. Well, in his Monday press conference, he gave us a straight answer.
"I'm gonna be heavily involved in all aspects of the gameplanning—offense, defense, special teams," said Allen. "I don't believe that the head football coach can do an effective job as the head football coach if he's calling plays offensively or defensively. So from that standpoint, I will be a game manager on Sunday with a lot of input on what we do both offensively, defensively, and special teams."
In other words, the Raiders will be hiring a defensive coordinator. There will, of course, be an offensive coordinator hired as well, though we don't know quite yet who either of them will be.
The top candidate for the defensive coordinator position is Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson. He and Allen have worked together on three separate teams going as far back as Texas A&M when Allen got his first coaching job, though there is no word yet if Johnson has been hired or will be hired.
When talking about his defensive philosophy, Allen referenced the "wrecking crew" defense on which he played while at Texas A&M. He also pulls from some great NFL defensive minds.
"I was fortunate enough to coach under Wade Phillips who runs the same type of attacking, aggressive type of defense. Gregg Williams is another type who runs that same philosophy of defense. So, yeah, I've been fortunate to be a part of some really good coaches and some really good teams that have been able to run that style of defense and that's kind of the philosophy that I take."
Obviously Bill Johnson comes from those same defenses as they have followed each other throughout their careers.
However, while Allen spoke of defensive style, he wouldn't say which specific scheme of defense. If he had, it might have given us a better idea of who he will bring in as defensive coordinator. Instead he went with "all of the above."
"I think a lot of times way too much is made out of whether you're a 4-3 or a 3-4," said Allen. "That's just amount of defensive linemen or linebackers that you put out on the field. We're gonna be multiple in the way that we line up. We're gonna do a lot of different things on defense. Again, we going to be attacking and aggressive in a bunch of different areas. I don't really get hung up on the 4-3, 3-4 personnel. We're going to find out what our players can do best. We're going to put them in the best situation that we can so that we can play the game at the highest level."
On the offensive side of the ball, he chose his words carefully when speaking of Al Saunders, the offensive coordinator for last year's team.
"Al Saunders is a guy that is under contract with us right now and again we're exploring all our... avenues as far as what we're going to do there."
He did give some indication of the kind of offense he prefers, however. And of course, it is the offense of the most successful team on which he ever coached.
"I think the more that you can substitute, the more you can show them different formations, the more you can show them different shifts, and still at the end of the day be able to run a lot of the same plays and still make it simple for your players, that's what's critical. Obviously, I will point out one [offense] that was extremely impressive to watch and that was the New Orleans Saints. They did an outstanding job and that's exactly what they did as far as the uptempo offense."
But most importantly, Allen has a clear idea of what his job will be as the head coach. And it is the lack of this mindset that was the undoing of the last few Raider coaches.
"I think a head coach's job and a coach in general is to lead, motivate, and inspire. That's what our job is to do. We've gotta lead these men to follow us. We've got to motivate them to play better than they've ever played before. We've gotta inspire them to heights of greatness."
Sure it sounds like big talk, but really it is quite simple. Let the coordinators do their jobs. Don't get distracted or bogged down by play calling. Be the head coach and only the head coach.
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