The coaching search for the Raiders has been a long mysterious process with mysterious names popping up seemingly out of nowhere. Dennis Allen as head coach was a somewhat unexpected move and his staff is shaping up much the same way. Or at least the hiring of Greg Knapp as offensive coordinator.
Up until Monday, it appeared Al Saunders was the odds on favorite for the job. He was the only Raiders coach from last season to be retained and was at the Senior Bowl in Raider gear. But at Dennis Allen's press conference, Allen appeared very hesitant when asked about whether Al Saunders could be his offensive coordinator.
"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."
That other avenue, or at least one of them, turned out to be former Raiders offensive coordinator and now former Houston Texans quarterbacks coach, Greg Knapp.
Allen and Knapp have history. They served on Jim Mora Jr's staff in Atlanta for two seasons in '04-05. Allen was a defensive assistant while Greg Knapp was the offensive coordinator. During those two seasons, Allen must have seen something he liked in Knapp.
Knapp comes back to Oakland after previously coaching there in 2007-2008 under then head coach Lane Kiffin and interim head coach Tom Cable. Then, when Tom Cable had the interim removed from his head coach title, he decided he wanted to call the plays and Knapp moved on to the Seattle Seahawks to rejoin his former head coach Jim Mora Jr as offensive coordinator.
When Mora was fired after one season, Knapp went as well. He has been the quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans the past two seasons. In his first season coaching the quarterbacks in Houston, Matt Schaub threw for 4370 yards. Last season in Houston Schaub went down with an injury and rookie round five pick TJ Yates took over at quarterback. The Texans rode Yates to their first division title and their first playoff win.
When Knapp was hired the first time in Oakland, he had previously served as offensive coordinator for the 49ers and Falcons. Despite being a quarterbacks coach, he is known for being a coach who likes to run the ball. Some of that reputation is skewed by the fact that he coached Mike Vick in Atlanta. He is also known for running the West Coast offense.
He is a surprise candidate to be sure but his coaching style fits what Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen are accustomed to. Allen said in his press conference on Monday what type of offense he would like to see with the Raiders.
"On offense we're gonna be uptempo; we're gonna be fast, we're gonna be aggressive," Allen reiterated. "We're gonna be able to run the football and run the football solidly so we can stay ahead of the chains on first and second down. And we're going to be explosive in the passing game. We've got those weapons in place to be able to do that."
Run-first offenses are what Knapp has been known for during his nine years as an offensive coordinator, though as an offensive coordinator he has never been given a quarterback with the talent of Carson Palmer before.
Knapp has had to coach several quarterbacks who were not known for their passing skills. His first stint as OC was in San Francisco with Jeff Garcia at QB who is more known for making plays with his legs and in the short passing game. Then he moved on to Atlanta and the extremely mobile Michael Vick.
Knapp's time in Oakland is what Raider fans remember him by, but that may not be a fair judgment. During his time in Oakland, his quarterbacks were Daunte Culpepper and Jamarcus Russell. His primary running back was Justin Fargas. There is not much he could do with that lack of talent. It is near impossible to judge him based on that.
This time around, he will have Carson Palmer at the helm with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush running the ball. With those kinds of toys, Knapp can open up the playbook.
However, with his history, Knapp and Carson Palmer would appear not to be a good fit. Oddly enough, Jason Campbell would be far more suited to what Knapp is used to having at quarterback. But there are a few things to consider about the West Coast offense.
First off, let's look at the two most prolific West Coast offenses in the NFL: the Saints and Packers. The Packers are Reggie McKenzie's former team and the Saints are Dennis Allen's former team. In both cases, despite the fact that they ran the West Coast offense, they were also known for airing it out with the big arms of Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.
Palmer is not known for his abilities to create plays with his legs but he has shown he is capable of doing so. He is not known for his skills in the short passing game but he has never been put in an offense in which he would have a chance to prove his abilities in that arena. What he does have, like Brees and Rodgers, is the ability to throw the long ball.
Greg Knapp is also known for running the zone blocking scheme. A statement by Dennis Allen at his press conference now becomes clear with the Knapp hiring.
"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."
The zone blocking scheme relies on stunts and pulling guards to confuse opposing defenses. But the ZBS, like the west coast offense, would appear not to mesh with the Raiders' strengths.
Darren McFadden has never played well in the zone blocking scheme, though it is a bit of a mystery why he doesn't. He has the characteristics that would suggest he could. The success he has had the last two seasons could actually have more to do with a renewed running style than a change in scheme, which could mean another change in scheme would disrupt his new running style. It is hard to say.
The Raiders' current offensive line also has played much better since ditching the zone blocking scheme before last season.
Not to say they couldn't make the switch. The ZBS requires smart, athletic, offensive linemen, and the Raiders have a few of those. Jared Veldheer and Stefen Wisniewski are both very smart, the team traded for Samson Satele because they thought his athleticism would fit the ZBS, and Cooper Carlisle is a veteran of the ZBS. The only member of the current offensive line who may not fit the ZBS is right tackle Khalif Barnes. But the Raiders will be looking to replace him as the starter anyway.
There is no doubt the hiring of Knapp will mean considerable changes in the Raiders' offense. But with the new regime, big changes were expected.
Dennis Allen was asked if he would confirm the hiring of Knapp as offensive coordinator to which he responded, "I'm not going to confirm anything. When the time is right." That sounds like a non-denial to me. He and Reggie McKenzie both said that no offical announcements will be made until the staff is complete. So when that happens, the time will be right. The team still does not have a defensive coordinator so they are a long ways off from a complete staff.
In the meantime, Raiders former special teams coach John Fassel has joined the St Louis Rams in the same position. He was not expected to be brought back by the Raiders.
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There is definitely a problem hiring a defensive minded coach, with no offensive coaching experience whatsoever, when the coach goes out and makes boneheaded hires that could adversely effect this great Raider offense. Greg Knapp. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Sorry Nilbymouth, but Knapp not only failed miserably under Cable, but he was horrible with Jason Campbell and had no offensive connection with him whatsoever. Campbell didn't start playing well until Hue was brought in. You know this as well as I do, and you also know that Al Saunders was the right person for this position. You have been highly critical of Carson Palmer, and have placed great expectations on him. Don't you think that it would have been smart to keep Saunders as the offensive coordinator, and give Carson Palmer the best possible chance to succeed??? I sure do... Knapp is a risky and foolish hire, and if he works with Palmer as poorly as he worked with Jason Campbell, it could be a long hard year, offensively speaking...
Campbell wasn't in the Silver and Black when Knapp was the OC. Campbell arrived for the 2010 season and Knapp was here in 07 and 08. The QB's he had to work with in 07 were Culpepper, McCown, Russell and Walter. The QB's he had in 08 were Russell, Tuiasosopo and Walter. At this time Culpepper was already on the decline of his career and the rest, are well, the rest! Even the best OC would struggle with these at QB!
You are right concerning Campbell. My bad. The QB carosel has me mixed up. Anyways, I still don't like Knapp and think we went that road with him once before and do not need to revisit it again. Cable obviously did not think too high of him if he stripped his playcalling duties and decided to call the plays himself. If Knapp was truely great at what he does, he would have had some positive influence on this team with his quarterbacks, and in my opinion, he didn't....Carson Palmer needs a guy like Saunders whose offensive connection to him is undeniable...
Looks like Manusky could be the next DC. He's a 3-4 guy, isn't he?
Still not sold on Knapp as OC. He is a WCO guy and that doesn't fit Palmer's style at all. This coaching staff is being to look impressively woeful. Don't see why we can't just stick with Saunders and keep some continuity for the offense. Not to mention that Saunders play-calling fits to Palmer's strengths. Oh, Allen's has also reportedly retained RB Coach Kelly Skpper.
I agree on keeping Saunders, but you shouldn't be selecting your OC on the strengths of one player. Also let's not forget this new management and coaches have no ties to these players. They are going to rebuild this team and I'm sure we will see quite a few roster changes coming up either with trades, the draft or free Agent signings.
I still think Paler's a great player and ehe could do some great things on this town, but yeah, I'm not convinced that he's gonna be there when the season starts no matter what Reggie and Allen have said. I mean, look how poor John Elway's doing for even sugesting that Tim Tebow could not be the starter next year. Tebowmaniacs are all over him. I don think Reggie and Denis Allen will make the same mistake, if any change is going to happen they won't talk about it before they must.
I agree with JarrodRollins when he say west coast offense isn't the best fit for Palmer's style. He's somehow lacking of mobilty and his short passes to double coverage brought most of his interceptions this year. He would have to be way more patient to succed in the westo coast offense. He's not a noob though, Norm Chow's WCO led Palmer to win a Heisman Trophy back in 2002. Wouldn't be surprised if the Raiders try to sign Matt Flynn or even Brady Quinn (and I'm not saying anything good or bad about any of those two guys) because they fit better in a West Coast Offense, and try to trade Plamer for a couple of late round picks (I think a 3rd and a 4th would be the most they could get). Anyway, I'm still confident that Knapp and Allen are smart enough guys to know that, no matter how much you like a system, if you don't have the right personnel you just won't be able to pull it out. I'm taking a break of analizing and will just wait to see how everything turns out before start judging.
Am I the only person that remembers when the Coloseum was literally half empty almost all the time when the Raiders were such a poor offensive team. Am I the only person who remembers the local blackouts due to the inability of this team to sell tickets at their home games??? This year was the first time in years that I was a witness to consistent sellouts, positive fan enthusiasm, and an explosive team that was fun to watch...Offense sells tickets... Offense brings hope to the fans..... Offense makes people want to spend their money to support their team.... Shame on McKenzie for A) hiring a defensive minded coach with no offensive coaching experience whatsoever, and B) allowing him to hire his own coaching staff, which now includes retread Greg Knapp, who failed miserably in his prior time with the Raiders calling plays. How could McKenzie allow this HIRE??? In fact, Knapp failed so miserably, that Tom Cable stripped him of his playcalling duties...Does the Raider management have amnesia??? What the hell is going on here!!!! Carson Palmer, the fans, and the Raider team deserve better than Greg Knapp and in my opinion, better than Dennis Allen, who is clearly showing that he has no clue offensively....
Come on man!
A) There is nothing wrong with hiring a defensive minded coach. Some of the best coaches are defensive minded. Plus, it shouldn't whether the coach is offensive or defensive minded. A good HC is there overseeing the whole team and letting his OC and DC doing their parts which is the way Allen seems to be going.
B) Some of the biggest problems this teams coaches have faced is because the coach wasn't able to hire his own staff. And I am glad to see that this has changed. Look at what Knapp had to work with previously when he was here and the roster had nothing close to the talent this team has.
One other point, if this team is winning constantly even if the offense is only scoring 17 points a game I have no doubt fans will continue to go to the games.
By the way, I agree with the comment below.
McFadden was just sucking in general back then. Not a scheme thing. Combination of injury, immaturity, and just being a young player
I don't think Palmer is going to issues with any system.
I'd say his biggest strengths are completing passes/accuracy, and throwing the long ball.
You know, it's not going to make huge differences to your game (systems) if you're fundamentals are good
Palmer's biggest strength is completing passes / accuracy? One of his biggest knocks against him is he is a wild passer who commits to many turnovers!
I'm a little iffy on this. I like what Knapp has done with the Texans but at the same time he has had some pretty average years as well. But to be honest if Allen can turn this defense into how it should be playing with all the talent on that side of the ball then the offense won't be needing to score as many points as this past season!
i think the thought process is to open up the offense like the packers and saints do with multiple wide formations, then run it down your throat with dmac and dump offs to him, the only problem we faec is we dont necessarily have those teams recievers on our roster, but we do have playmakers. moore could be a greg jennings type, ford is a james jones type, and dhb, well, he's just dhb! the point im making is WHEN healthy dmac is better than gb's running backs and can be used as a huge weapon like the saints do sproles. the one thing allen definitely emphasized in his press conference was that "we are gonna be an explosive offense". that was maybe the most stern thing he said. i also like the fact he said our d is good, but we need to improve in the lb play and the secondary, unlike hue who would just say "we will play better next game". will be interesting to see who gets cut, and what free agents we can get here this offseason. and for the last time and i dont want to say it again, please listen mr mckenzie and coach allen. DO NOT TRADE DARREN MCFADDEN!
@massillonraider This move doesn't inspire me and talk of Manusky as DC makes me ill....I totally agree do not trade DMC.....then again, they are thr pros...like norv, Kifin, Cable, Jackson etc....is it 2013 yet?
McFadden did not suck in the zone blocking scheme. He sucked at that time ... because he was injured. He had a gimpy foot and couldn't cut. He will be fine, if he stays healthy, and if not ... it doesn't really matter anyway.
Ahhhh!!!! I don't like this from the onset. I agree with the sentiment that this probably won't bode well for DMC and possibly Palmer. We have had success with the ZBS in the past (i.e. Lamont Jordan) but I am very fearful that it won't work with our current players. In theory, DMC should thrive in the ZBS because it's one cut and go. However like Levi alluded to; DMC sucked in the ZBS. Hopefully the sentiment that it was DMC's running style and not the scheme that made him stink in ZBS. One glimmer of hope is think about DMC's rookie year and the game he had against KC. He had somewhere near 150 yds and we were under the ZBS. So, it ould be possible to work. My biggest fear is this means that Steve Wiz will no longer be an o line coach. So to say the least, this move scares me. I agree with @DylanAlexander that we didn't need to blow up the offense. I guess, I know it when I see it. At this point, I am preparing myself for the possibility of a rebuilding year and a .500 or worse season.
This is a stupid hire. I didn't want Knapp here the first time, I certainly don't want him the second time around.
I like the move. I might not be a huge fan of the Zone Blocking Scheme, mostly when facing 3-4 defenses, yet I think Knapp did a pretty good job taking justin "crystal knees" fargas to a 1000 plus season, and let's face it, Josh McCown was the best QB in that roster and that's so depressing. Who was the best reciever thos days? I think it was curry, but I can't be sure if Jerry Porter beat him any of those years... Let's face it, our offensive talent was zero back then.He's been coaching Matt Schaub and I don't think anyone in Houston can complain about the results. Also, I don't know why people are complaining that bad about firing Saunders. When he came last year everybody said he was going to be a glorified QB coach since Hue was gonna design the offense and call the plays (and you know? he was!!!).
@Black_Nightmare Saunders designed the plays last season. Hue just picked and chose which ones to call. And it is not for certain Saunders will be fired. He is still under contract and his role could simply change. He was an offensive consultant with the Ravens prior to coming to the Raiders. There is a possibility they could retain him in a similar role.
@Black_Nightmare My personal problem with Saunders being released is I am a firm believer that the most successful way to attack a Defence is with a power running and vertical passing game. There is nobody alive who implements that system better than Saunders. I was really hopeing on the continued continuity for the Offence as well. Palmer said he didn't see Hue very often throughout the week. I think that implies that Saunders had a large role in the offensive instalation. I'll give you that this will be the best talent Knapp has to work with so we will see what happens. I personally think it won't go all that well. I remember the ' stretch right, stretch left, incomplete pass, punt ' offensive playcalling like it was yesterday. We were a joke. I'll admit having JaMarcus was a big reason, but Kiffin got almost 2000 yards passing out of him.
@DylanAlexander Actually it was 2423 yards from Russuel back in 2008, but it was Knapp the OC. He even got 200 yards squeezed out of Andrew Walter that year lol. And when it comes to Saunders, his offense sucked back in St Louis and KC so I'm not sure if he really designed the plays. I mean, the playbook must have remain almost the same from the days when Hue was OC.
@DylanAlexander Yeah, I doublechecked my numbers and was charging old Al with the Mike Solari's seasons at KC... My fault. His offense was top 5 scoring 2002, 2003 and 2004. It was 6th back in 2005. That wasn't rocket sicence though, I mean he had Trent Green, Tony Gonzalez, Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson at their prime. His only year at St.Louis was awful anyway (even worst than I remembered). That offense hit rock bottom at 30th scoring back in 08. I'm not saying he's a terrible coach, I just don't know how much of last year's offense was actually his doing and how much was Hue's work from 2010 (from my regular-fan point of view, didn't seem to change a lot from one year to the next one).
@Black_Nightmare His offense in KC ranked in the top 5 for points and yards for like 5 years. I don't want to beat this into the ground but Knapps stats are not in the same league as Saunders. If Knapp does a good job I'll be the first to say I'm wrong, I still don't like the hire when we had someone better already on the job.
I am really, unexcited by this appointment. I have said it on twitter and I will say it here. I had this same feeling last year when Chuck was appointed as DC... Never reappoint a failed coordinator.. Rarely works the second time.
I look at his record and just think the offence could actually go backwards. The reason being, we didnt really have a problem in the running game, in fact its very good. We had a problem through the air and getting our WR to be more consistent. I can not see how Ford and Moore will develop using his style of offence, unless we do mould it like a Packers & Saints team but there have been no signs of his previous teams getting even close to this level.
However, one WR that may benefit is DHB. He had his break out year from coaches working out that he actually doesn't like going deep. He likes picking up short balls and making huge ground after the catch . Also a point. Once Palmer got use to this as well, after three games, they're partnership became quite good. So maybe Palmer will be able to play this West Coast style. I hope so. as there could be a lot more of this with Knapp as OC.
History shows that this won't work..... I sincerely hope I am wrong.
We've had a great offense for 2 years now, and it hasn't got us very far
Good offenses are winning offenses. If Oakland win 10 games next year, Knapp will be proclaimed a genius, no matter how many yards he actually gets ;)
I'm not thrilled by this move at all. Allen brings in a coach who's philosophy is exactly opposite of what this team is built to do. DMC suffered greatly in the ZBS his first two years. When Hue came in and talked to DMC he told Hue what types of runs he preferred. Hue implemented the Power Scheme and DMC was on his way to leading the league in rushing until his season ending foot injury. Moore , Ford , and DHB all have shown flashes in the vertical passing system ( Al Saunders specialty ). I'm incredibly frustrated that we were a good D-coordinator and a healthy DMC from being a dominate team, now the whole thing is being blown up. Maybe next we can bring Kiffin back and have him do some classes on ' How to handle yourself professionally ' right after Cable's ' Treating women right ' seminar.
Good players, with good fundamentals, can play in any system
If DMAC can't perform, because of a change of scheme, then they should just cut him anyway.
However, I think he will handle the change easily. He's a different player now than back then
i do have to disagree with you about good players can work in any system. Drew brees is a great player who is just six foot and would not be nearly as successful in a 3 drop system. He is too short to finding throwing lanes with 6' 5 defensive lineman OL Joe Montana could not be successful in Mike Martz system he doesnt have the arm . Jerome Bettis wouldnt be successful in green bay system. These are all great players who played in system that utilized there skills. Allen has inherited a good team with a bad defense with talented players. If this team goes south he and Mckenzie are to blame and she be held accountable.
@DylanAlexander I respectfully disagree... I mean, we might have been a good DC and a healthy Run DMC from the playoffs (not really from actually dominate the league) but dude, when did Run DMC had a healthy season? Only Schilenz hurts more often than he does. I agree, the running game was an asset, not a liability (mostly cause Mike Bush is a true warrior down there). Anyway this guy hasn't said anything about changing anything yet. And even if he does, we don't know how's that gonna work, so lets hope for the best and wait until the season starts and there are some actual games to let the critics storm hit Knapp.