Raiders' Dennis Allen has lots of problems to fix


Around the League will examine one key figure under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season. Next up: The Oakland Raiders.

Under Pressure: Dennis Allen

Under Pressure

Around the League will examine one key player under pressure on each team heading into the 2012 season:

AFC East
Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks

We thought about naming first-time unknown defensive coordinator Jason Tarver the man under pressure. Tarver must transition from the college game, but in reality is this will be coach Dennis Allen's defense. And he's got all kinds of problems.

1. Oakland's projected started cornerbacks are Ronald Bartell and Shawntae Spencer. Both players are 30 years old and were released by their previous teams. The Raiders figure to change from their decades-old approach of cornerback and the pieces from the previous regime don't necessarily fit.

2. Starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain hasn't performed to his draft level and he's facing 180 days in prison. If McClain has to go to jail during the season, untested third-year player Travis Goethel is projected to start. The other starting linebackers are Aaron Curry and free agent pickup Philip Wheeler. There are a lot of moving parts here. There aren't many difference makers.

3. The defensive line should lead the way, but it's worth noting Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are not exactly ascending players. Seymour is the consummate pro but he can't be expected to dominate at age 33. Seymour is set to make $15 million, a figure worthy of a dominating player. Kelly will make $6 million.

4. Allen would love to show 3-4 fronts this year, but he doesn't yet have the personnel to do it.

5. This is a defense is transition. We know Allen is creative, but there are no easy answers with a cornerback group as shaky as this one. This team finished 29th in both points and yards allowed last year.

We wouldn't expect much improvement from the group this year, which will be tough to take for a defensive-minded coach like Allen.