Just a week after former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak was fired another NFL coach fell onto a warm seat.
Raiders head coach Dennis Allen has been the subject of widespread speculation, and Las Vegas might even be getting action on the former defensive back’s job security.
What does Allen think? He was asked Monday whether he is privy to any discussions or feels uncertain moving forward:
“Listen, that’s not what my job is. My job is to try and get this team better, get this team ready to play against the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m not going to talk about speculation or anything like that. I’m going to worry about winning a football game again this week.”
The 2013 Oakland Raiders, a team constructed with less than half of the allotted resources under the salary cap, have a 4-9 record and are the underdogs in their remaining three games.
On paper, they look just like the Raiders of 2012. Fact is, that’s just not the case.
After cutting Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, the team’s two highest-paid defensive players from last season, they ranked within the leagues top 10 defenses by the midway point. They have stopped some of the league’s best runners, including LeSean McCoy and Chris Johnson.
All that after also ridding Rolando McClain, the team’s first round draft pick in 2010.
Hand-picked by general manager Reggie McKenzie, Allen took charge of a team without vision and without many players that actually want to win, as evidenced by Kelly’s laughter following an opponent’s large gain in 2012.
In 2013, the locker room is different. Players are distraught after multiple losses, and have remained focused after wins. The team responds to Allen, unlike many Raiders coaches before him.
Allen has helped re-shape the culture of a team that has often led the NFL in penalties, many of which had been unnecessary. He has the youth to relate to almost any player mentally, but also to run with many.
Mark Davis, owner of the Raiders, only wanted one thing this season: progress.
In a locker room that hasn’t wavered despite a losing record and essentially being eliminated from postseason contention, progress could be an understatement from seasons past. And they’re not done yet.
Bay Area News Group’s Tim Kawakami sat down with Davis this week, gaining some solid insight. Davis said:
“What I can tell you is we just went through the two-year deconstruction of the Raiders. We had to do it. It wasn’t fun, but it was something we had to do. And it’s basically complete. That is done. The re-construction is going to begin right after this season is over. That’s what we’ve got to do—we’ve got to build this team back up.”
Davis continued, possibly giving the biggest hint into the future of the front office when he said:
“… it’s been a tough time for everybody. But what do they say about patience? If you’re committed to something, you have to be patient with it. … That’s the thing about this season —at times we’ve shown that there’s something there, and at times we’ve shown that maybe there’s not.”
A depleted defensive rotation and a mid-season quarterback change may be partially to blame, though Allen wouldn’t make any excuses:
“Well, we’ve got three games against division opponents, so it will be a great opportunity for us to measure ourselves up against the teams that are in our division. Those are the teams, that if we aspire to be a playoff team, those are the teams that we’ve got to be able to beat. So, I’ll look for (our players) to rise up to the challenge and try to win these football games. That’s what we’re trying to do. And our guys will respond. They’ll come back.”
Allen has said all season that he likes this group of players. It’s easy to see why.
Given the team’s salary cap issues that will become absent in the offseason, and the current crop of rookies that will soon be entering the league, what’s the ceiling of a Dennis Allen led football team?
It’s probably too soon to know.
With veteran receivers like Anquan Boldin and Jeremy Maclin hitting the market, all-pro offensive tackle Branden Albert and his defensive counterpart Henry Melton, the sky doesn’t appear to be falling.
The Raiders could retain their key players and then add every single aforementioned star and then have some wiggle room still.
It’s a safe bet that Mark Davis understands the difficulties involved when you have a roster that’s built with less than $60 million, before you factor injuries to players like Jared Veldheer and rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden.
While anything can happen, there’s been no sign that coach Allen’s job is in jeopardy, or that he is even on the hot seat. And if stability has it’s way, he will be back in 2014.