Two weeks to the day that the Raiders fired former head coach Hue Jackson, the team has a new head coach. He is former Broncos defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen.
At 39 years of age, Allen comes in as the youngest head coach in the NFL. Hiring young head coaches is nothing new for the Raiders. It typically works out quite well for them. Jon Gruden, at the age of 35, was the youngest head coach in the NFL when he was hired. He was so young, his quarterback, Rich Gannon, was just two years younger. The Raiders also hired Mike Shanahan as their head coach when he was just 36 years of age. He has since gone on to a long successful NFL career.
Al Davis himself was fairly young (34) when he became the head coach of the Raiders. He later would promote their young linebackers coach John Madden to the job. Madden was the youngest head coach in the NFL at the age of 32 when he took over the head coaching job. Eight seasons later, he would lead the Raiders to their first Super Bowl. Madden was also the last defensive head coach the Raiders had... until now.
Madden became the Raiders' head coach in 1969 which means that it has been 43 years since the Raiders had a defensive minded head coach. This hire makes a definitive statement proving what new GM Reggie McKenzie said about changing the culture inside the Raiders' organization.
The next step in this change in culture will be allowing Allen to pick his own staff — something that Al Davis was not known for allowing. It will be important for Allen to surround himself with some quality coordinators and assistants as his rise to head coach happened quickly.
Allen is very much like Hue Jackson in that respect. Jackson was offensive coordinator in the NFL for one season before being promoted to head coach. Allen spent last season as the Broncos' defensive coordinator — his one and only season as a coordinator.
Prior to being named the defensive coordinator in Denver under Broncos' new head coach, John Fox, Allen was a long time position coach in the NFL. His NFL coaching career started in 2002 as a defensive assistant/quality control coach with the Falcons. After four seasons in Atlanta, he moved on to the Saints as their assistant defensive line coach and later their secondary coach.
As the defensive coordinator for the Broncos last season, the Broncos rose from the worst defense in the NFL in 2010 to 20th in the league. The Broncos' defense was like night and day between the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Teams had their way with them in 2010. But last season, they were far more aggressive and kept the Broncos in a lot of games while Tim Tebow got off to slow starts.
Tebow got all the credit for his miracle fourth quarter comebacks but it was the defense that held the other team down until Tebow could spring to life. During the team's six game win streak, the defense held opposing teams to an average of 17 points per game. This included two overtime wins over the Chargers and Bears in which their potent offenses were held to 13 and 10 points respectively.
That six-game win streak is what helped the Broncos win the AFC West and head to the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers before losing to the now Super Bowl bound New England Patriots.
The Raiders are expected to make the hiring official by tomorrow with a press conference soon to follow.
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This is the thing I struggle to understand, as a Brit, following the sport. In Europe, EVERY coach, in every sport, is an ex player. In fact, you really have to play at the highest level to have any chance of coaching. The theory basically is that, unless you were a decent player yourself, you struggle to command the players respect.
In the USA, it seems coaching and playing are separate professions. In fact, having a great NFL career as a player seems to be a distinct disadvantage in becoming a top coach.
I'm not saying the USA way is wrong. In fact I prefer it. I'm just saying, as a Brit, I find it odd that guys are, in effect, choosing to end their playing careers early (as in not chasing playing time at lower levels - say Europe) to become coaches.
In Soccer, generally, players, from the very best to the very worst, play for as long as their legs are working. As in, they'll move from the very top leagues, to the very bottom ones, searching for games. Taking up coaching, at say 32 isn't an option. They'd prefer to play pick up games, in parks............!
I think it's a respect thing. As in, being a coach in the USA is an honorable thing. They command immediate respect. It's not the same in the UK. Being a coach here, you're generally abused, mocked, from day 1, no matter how well you do. In the media, in the newspapers, by your own players!
@ChristopherMooney interesting take. I think for some players they just did not have the talent or their career was cut short due to an injury. I think they'd prefer to stay in the business and this is the only way by becoming a coach. Others I think know they want to coach at an early stage of their career. Dennis Allen was a DB and had a pretty good college career but couldn't catch on to the NFL, same for Gruden although Gruden was destined to be a coach even while he was in college. Weird how the Brits respect level for a coach is less than here in the states, I never knew that. I wonder if that's the reason we'd see Gruden arguing with Gannon and Donald Hollas on the sidelines.
This actually is a good move. He's not a newcomer you know? He's been coaching at high level for a few years now. He knows the division quite well since, well, he's been in the division for a whole year. As Levi said, Denver's D played at high level in those six games they won. Se @RaiderDoc , I think it's not so hard to take a vow of confidence on Reggie's first big decision. Now, a lot more of those big decisions are comming: Will the team keep Carson Palmer or will they try to hire Matt Flynn or any other free agent and try to get some draft picks out of a desperate team (a.k.a. Seattle) for the good old Carson? Will they find some worthy UDFA or will they work with what there is now? Players like DHB will keep under the scolarship program they've been or will their time expire? The answer to this and many more HUGE questions is coming soon.
Gonna have to be an "in Mackenzie we trust" thing at this point. No clue if this is good or bad. But he did do a good job in Denver. Here's to a new age.
To say I am surprised about this hire would be an understatement. What it shows me is that with McKenzie we probably wont be able to anticipate anything he does. I am ok with that because that tells me he makes decisions based on the process and not his connections. I am very interested in seeing what the rest of our staff will look like. It is very interesting to see that we will stay at 4-3. I do wonder what went wrong with Moss. We have interviewed him several times and now McKenzie interviews him and no hire. @nilbymouth , I hope that the intensity Dennis brings elevates our players. I look forward to seeing how the rest of this turns out.
@ChristopherMooney That's true but at the same time I would figure that Al's experience means that he would have at least picked some things up. Whether or not it was his tidbits, I am sure Al has an idea of what makes our offense go and what doesnt. It was like when Callahan took over for Gruden. Clearly Callahan wasn't great but we had early success because Callahan just reimplemented the system that Gruden already had in place.
@ChristopherMooney He has OC experience with the chiefs and redskins, he's even been a head coach before in San Diego, I think he would do just fine. Hopefully. :-)
Interesting selection. I was thinking Moss or Capers was going to be the coach but hoping for Carmichael. Looks like the defense will stick as a 4-3 then? Gutted if that's the case and we just lost the best 4-3 DL coach in the NFL to the Rams. At very least it's a big up yours to the Broncos. When Champ Bailey was told about the hiring, rumor was he was not happy to see Allen leave. Bailey even mentioned the intensity Allen bought to the Broncos defense. Hopefully he can bring that intensity to the whole team!
@raidersbuzztap it might be a good hire. As a die hard fan,I just hope he can last more then a yr or 2.