It was a relatively disappointing season for the Oakland Raiders, who started out promising before collapsing at the end of the season. After week 11, the Raiders had 4-6 record and an outside shot at the playoffs with several winnable games in front of them. The Raiders would then fall flat on their faces by losing six straight to close out the year. The entire team completely regressed over the course of the season, especially the defense, which raises questions of the job security of head coach Dennis Allen and his assistant coaches.
There are massive amounts of speculation swirling around the Raiders and their front office, largely due to the media not knowing what to expect from owner Mark Davis. They assume that he would be similar to his father, who would have had a knee jerk reaction to the extremely poor performance shown by the team at the end of the season. Under the former Al Davis regime, there would have been wholesale changes regarding the coaching staff.
The initial rumblings coming out of Oakland are that Davis is going to trust the decision of his general manager Reggie McKenzie and give Allen one more year to show major improvements than when he took over the team in 2012. San Jose Mercury News writer Tim Kawakami seems to think that Allen will be in 2014 after speaking with Davis:
Every indication seems to be–as I told Davis just now–that Allen and of course McKenzie will be back in 2014. Davis didn’t disagree.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 31, 2013
It is interesting twist away from the former thinking of the previous front office, which sacrificed continuity and stability to try and win now. It is worth noting that nothing has been officially announced, as Davis and Allen are scheduled to meet sometime early next week, but it is safe to assume that Allen will return.
There is a potential point of contention brewing regarding the status of Allen’s assistants. A report from CSN Bay Area is saying that the front office want to make some changes at the position coach level, while Allen wants to keep his staff intact. This is the one issue that could potentially have an impact on Allen’s status as head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
The team is willing to keep around offensive coordinator Greg Olson and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, but they want changes made under those two. Many of those assistants have expiring contracts and the ownership has not shown any indication of offering more than a one-year deal. Allen had come to Davis in the beginning of the season to discuss extensions for his assistants, but Davis declined to discuss any extensions.
The decision to float one-year contracts to assistants with expired contracts combined with Allen having one year left on his deal could set up 2014 as a make-or-break season for the Allen era. It would allow Davis to make wholesale changes in the coaching staff with little dead money on the books. It would be an ideal situation for the ownership group, but will it be best for the team?
Having the coaching staff on one-year deals looks like an ideal situation, as it creates little to no problems once changes are made, but it sets up the coaching staff for failure. The coaches have the potential to be put into a lame duck situation. The players could potentially quit on a coaching staff once they face adversity, because they know the staff will not be around if the team fails to show improvements.
The idea to keep Allen for another season is the correct one, as an NFL head coach should get three to four seasons to turn around a struggling franchise, but not showing much confidence in your coaching staff is another issue all together. Will this team fold under Allen at the first sign of adversity because they know he will not be around after the season?