Reggie McKenzie's first big splash as GM of the Oakland Raiders was chopping off the head of the "Old Al Davis Raiders" by firing Hue Jackson. This move was met by a strange oil and water like reaction - some Raiders fans were not impressed by how Jackson pumped his chest out. Others were certain that 2011's lackluster outcome was a result of some seriously unfortunate injuries. My take? It was a little bit of both.
Darren McFadden was on pace to beast on every single rushing record available before his foot injury. Jason Campbell wasn't a world beater by any means, but he was certainly having his best season as a pro before his injury. What was left on the Raiders' roster at quarterback was pathetic, and without that Bruce Gradkowski safety net, Oakland was up a creek. I'll spare you any take on Carson Palmer - the jury is still out on him. The fact is - Mark Davis didn't like Hue, and McKenzie wanted his own staff. That's that.
After a "short list" of coaching candidates became a rather long one, McKenzie finally made his choice: Dennis Allen, former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, is the new Oakland Raiders' head coach.
Without doing much research, here is what I know. Allen was the defensive coordinator in Denver for one year: 2011. He brought Denver from a bad defense to a fairly middle-of-the-pack one. Prior to his one year stint in Denver, Allen was a DBs coach. So the raiders hired a guy with one year of coordinating experience and absolutely zero head coaching experience. Yikes.
But here's the bright side. Allen is the first head coach with a defensive background that the Raiders have hired since John Madden. For a team that was absolutely porous defensively, Allen should bring a strong defensive game plan to Oakland. An eye for talent (that should be sought after hard in free agency) should help bolster a pretty horrid secondary.
It should also be noted that many Broncos were sad to see Allen go, According to Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. Champ Bailey said "...he's one of the most intense coaches I've had." Von Miller added that "They’re getting a guy that’s going to come in right away, and he’s going to get it done."
He had better hope so. Much like the 49ers, the Raiders have suffered through a long stretch of mediocrity. Despite the lack of success, expectations remain high every season for the black and silver. Fans expect a return to prominence. As with every coaching hire, teams run a risk of striking out, but the Raiders need to make it work, and it needs to happen right now.
The coaching must be stellar, from motivation to Xs and Os, but most importantly, Dennis Allen must bring discipline to the Raiders.
It's evident that there is talent in Raiderland, so what's left is a need for fundamental football, and limiting penalties should be a goal. We'll soon find out what Reggie McKenzie is made of by seeing what he does in the draft, and how Dennis Allen does as the head coach of the Raiders. Until then, fans simply have to trust that their new GM has found a diamond in the rough, or else history is bound to repeat itself in Oakland.