<
>

Examining an Allen-Raiders pairing

It appears the Oakland Raiders are focusing on staying in the AFC West for their next head coach.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen are reporting that the team is working on the final steps of making Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen its next head coach. Schefter and Mortensen reported that candidates Marty Mornhinweg and Mike Tice have been told the Raiders have identified their man.

Allen, 39, has one year of experience as a defensive coordinator with the Raiders’ rival, the Denver Broncos.

While this deal is not done, here are some initial thoughts on the possible (probable?) pairing:

Reggie McKenzie paves his own path: McKenzie was hired as the Raiders' GM earlier this month to lead the organization in the wake of owner Al Davis' death in October. If Allen is McKenzie’s hire, it will end a decades-long tradition in Oakland. John Madden, hired in 1969, was the last defense-minded head coach of the Raiders. This hire would mean McKenzie is not worried about the past and is going with the man he wants.

Raiders could use a defensive boost: Even though he was a first-time coordinator, Allen had a major impact in Denver. The Broncos were last in nearly every major defensive category in 2010. However, under Allen’s guidance, Denver’s defense improved immensely in 2011 and was a big reason why the Broncos improved from 4-12 to 8-8 and why they ended up as division champions. Oakland has a lot of talent on defense, but it has been giving up way too many big plays. If Allen gets the job and straightens out this problem, Oakland could be dangerous.

Denver’s defense would be in flux again: In addition to improving his own team, McKenzie would weaken a rival with this move. That’s a nice bonus. If Allen leaves, Denver would be hiring its seventh defensive coordinator in seven years. A potential replacement would be former Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio. He was Broncos coach John Fox’s first defensive coordinator in Carolina.

Bad omen? Davis went the route of bringing in a Denver assistant as his head coach. He hired Broncos offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan in 1988. Shanahan didn’t last two seasons in Oakland. McKenzie will have to hope his ride to the Rockies ends up better than Davis’ did.