Instant Debate: Is Dennis Allen the right man for Oakland?

The Oakland Raiders are filling their head-coaching vacancy with Dennis Allen, formerly the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. Allen is the first defensive-minded coach for the franchise since John Madden retired in 1978 (everyone since came from the offensive side of the ball: Tom Flores, Mike Shanahan, Art Shell, Mike White, Joe Bugel, Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Shell again, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson). Is this the change Oakland needed to return to glory?

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  • Steve Wyche
  • First and foremost, Oakland needs a major change of culture

The change won't come in Oakland with a new head coach, regardless of what mindset he brings to the table. The change will come when some of the cronyism within the walls in Alameda is dealt with, so a talented young coach like Dennis Allen and his general manager, Reggie McKenzie, have a chance.

Some promising coaches came and went because they were undermined by a culture in which people only felt accountable to Al Davis. With a change at the top and more certainly to come at all levels of the franchise, Allen, who several NFL coaches think has the right stuff, might have a chance.

First of all, let's be fair when assessing Dennis Allen. The Broncos defense was awful, then it got better, then it was awful again. True, the defense did improve -- from 29 points per game last year to 24 this year -- but it was still 24th in points allowed overall. Denver gave up over 40 points in a game four times this season, including twice in the last three weeks of the regular season, and once more against New England in the playoffs. It was Allen's first year as a defensive coordinator anywhere in the NFL, and now he becomes the league's youngest head coach at 39. He's aggressive and his former players love him. He could be great. But he's also a gamble.

It's not about the offensive or defensive side of the ball in Oakland, it's about stability and a résumé. This is the fourth straight head coach Oakland has taken a risk on (Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson were the prior three). While I think you do have to take a chance once in a while, if you do it consistently you're going to come up snake eyes more often than not and your team just drifts -- which is exactly what the Raiders have been doing the last few years. Oakland needed someone who could garner instant respect and be the person you could look at and say. "He's going to be there for a while. The Raiders are fine now." I just don't get that feeling with Allen.

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  • Adam Rank
  • After a series of clunker coaches, Allen offers potential

In a word, yes. Did you not read through the list of names after Jon Gruden? The Raiders should hold tribunals against those guys for crimes against football. Al Davis was able to identify young coaching talent, exemplified by his hiring of Madden, Flores, Shanahan and Gruden. But that skill clearly eroded as the years went on.

All of the coaches after Gruden flamed out and were forced to scurry to college, go back to being assistants or get a vote of confidence to ruin the Chargers. Offense or defense, doesn't matter. The Raiders just need to find a winner again.

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  • Pat Kirwan
  • Allen will get two years to show significant progress

It really doesn't matter whether a head coach is from the defensive side of the ball (like Bill Belichick) or the offensive side of the ball (like Tom Coughlin). Do you have what it takes to evaluate talent, develop that talent and deliver on Sundays? Dennis Allen is well thought of in NFL circles, but he has never been an NFL head coach. A return to glory for this franchise is a lofty goal and a steep mountain to climb. Raider history suggests he will get two years to show significant progress ... or join the long list of coaches no longer in Oakland.

From everything being said about Allen at the Senior Bowl down here in Mobile, Ala., he has a good chance to succeed. But just look back at the list of 11 coaches hired in 2009 across the league. Only two remain on the job.

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  • Elliot Harrison
  • Fixing the defense isn't Allen's only big job

Considering how poorly their defense played, yes. The troubling aspect aspect is that the Raiders have talent on that side of the ball, despite finishing 29th overall in yards allowed. Injuries to starters hurt, namely cornerback Chris Johnson and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, but that's not enough of a loss to constitute giving up the second-most big plays in the league (plays of 20-plus yards). Well, at least not to ownership.

It should be noted that the Raiders could hire Buddy Ryan in his prime with Tom Landry, Bud Carson, Bill Belichick, and Monte Kiffin as assistants, and that still wouldn't provide them a defense good enough to overcome all of Carson Palmer's interceptions or being the most penalized team in the league. Lack of discipline and offensive giveaways hurt this club during the second half of the season as much as anything else.

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