NFL Nation: Mark Davis


It is no surprise that Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis was recently in San Antonio. In fact, the teams's official website posted a photo of him there on July 20, along with former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros and former Raiders receiver Cliff Branch.

What is somewhat surprising is that it took so long -- nine days in the 24/7 news cycle supported by citizen journalists -- for this rumor/report to go viral: Are the Raiders looking to potentially move to the Alamo City?

[+] EnlargeRaiders owner Mark Davis
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsMark Davis said in a statement released by the Raiders that he was in San Antonio earlier this month to honor Cliff Branch and see his friend Henry Cisneros.
Surely Davis had to know that by being in San Antonio, which already has a stadium that might be NFL-ready by 2015 in the Alamodome, it would cause waves of speculation, even if officially he was there to support one of his closest friends.

"I was in San Antonio to honor Cliff Branch on his induction into the PVILCA [Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association] Hall of Fame,” Davis said in a team-released statement Tuesday afternoon.

“Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros is a friend, and Henry suggested I take the opportunity to meet with some of the city officials while we were in town. I have nothing further to discuss on the topic.”

According to the report in the San Antonio Express-News, Davis “and two top lieutenants” met with several city officials about the “potential” of moving his team from Oakland to San Antonio. Among said officials: Cisneros, who was behind the Alamodome project as San Antonio mayor, mayor Julián Castro, city manager Sheryl Sculley, Mario Hernandez of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and both Richard Perez and David McGee, the president and chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, respectively, per the report. Davis also talked with San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt and Red McCombs, "who both showed interest in having a stake in the team if it were to move here,” according to the report.

The Raiders need a new stadium -- the current lease at O.co Coliseum expires at the conclusion of this upcoming season -- and had previously, in a roundabout way, been linked to San Antonio, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon, as well as nearby Concord and Dublin in the East Bay.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Davis took an aerial tour of the city by helicopter. The Alamodome would be considered a temporary home as it is 21 years old and Davis had repeatedly talked of building a stadium fit for the Raiders, its history, fans and his late father's legacy. In fact, the report said Davis wanted “a small, intimate” stadium in front of which he could place “a statue of his father” Al Davis.

Still, San Antonio is considered Dallas Cowboys' turf, and the Houston Texans might want to have a say as well.
How does the 10-year lease agreement between Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics and the Oakland Coliseum Authority to have the A’s keep playing for the next decade in O.co Coliseum affect the Oakland Raiders?

The knee-jerk reaction of the deal being approved by a 6-2 vote, under threat of MLB commissioner Bud Selig giving the A’s permission to move if the deal was not approved, is that 81 baseball home games is preferable to 10 NFL home games (two in the preseason, eight in the regular season). But the Raiders might now want to take their ball and go home ... wherever that might be -- Dublin, Concord, Los Angeles, Portland, San Antonio, Parts Unknown.

[+] EnlargeO.co Coliseum
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesRaiders owner Mark Davis called the 10-year lease agreement between MLB's Oakland Athletics and the Oakland Coliseum Authority "a tough situation."
Especially because two weeks before Thursday’s vote, Raiders owner Mark Davis said the Coliseum needed to be knocked down. Davis’ vision, of course, is Coliseum City. That would mean demolishing the Coliseum, which opened in 1968, and building new homes for both the Raiders, in the current south parking lot, and A’s, in the north parking lot.

It was after the Raiders’ final minicamp practice a few weeks ago that Davis told four reporters he did not consider the A’s a rival for the Coliseum site, although he did want A’s owner Lew Wolff to make his long-term intentions known.

The A’s 10-year lease, despite Wolff’s long-standing desire to move the team to San Jose, would seem to answer Davis. Still, there are reportedly many outs for the A’s, which would make a decade-long commitment a mere stopgap. Again.

Per MLB.com, “The deal permits the team to leave the Coliseum so long as it gives two years’ notice and continues paying the lease for the remainder of the two-year term. The A’s do not have to make these payments, however, if they move to another stadium within Oakland.”

Plus, in the news release from the A’s, the team announced, “The contract takes into account the possibility of progress towards building a new football facility for the Oakland Raiders. If private money becomes available for such a venue, the A’s and the Coliseum Authority recognize that a variety of next steps would be considered to ensure maximum flexibility for both the A’s and Raiders.”

Davis, meanwhile, has said the Raiders have $400 million to put toward a new stadium of their own. And, again, Davis wants new digs, not a refurbished and shared Coliseum.

“In order to do a really comprehensive building development there, you have to tear the Coliseum down to start with,” Davis told the San Jose Mercury-News after that last minicamp practice. “You can’t be putting the stadium in a corner here, because of infrastructure and all that. And I keep bringing that word up, but it’s a key word in this process.

“So the stadium’s got to come down. So [the A’s staying in the Coliseum] does make a problem, there’s no two ways about it.”

While the A’s have been dealing with the Coliseum Authority, the Raiders have been working with Colony Capital to get Coliseum City up and running. And the way Davis saw it, with the A’s lease up in 2015, before Thursday’s agreement, the Coliseum could have been torn down immediately thereafter.

“And that would get us into a stadium by 2019, I believe,” Davis said. “On that site.

“So it’s a tough situation. I’ve said that if the A’s were going to buy in and the A’s say, 'Yeah, we want to build on this site as well,' I’m all for it. Let’s build two stadiums and let’s do it.

“Selfishly I would like to be the only one there, but for the good of everybody, I’m all for it. Let’s do it. But make a commitment to it if you want. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to fit. Lew’s vision and Colony Capital’s vision don’t seem to mesh. So that’s where the problem is.”

Davis did not reply to messages Thursday now that the deal is all but official.

The A’s agreement still must be approved by the Oakland City Council and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders began their three-day rookie minicamp at their compound on Friday with the helmets and shorts practice open to the media. Here are 10 observations from the sidelines:

1. Linebacker Khalil Mack, the No. 5 overall pick of last week’s NFL draft, is huge … and fast. And serious about playing football from a number of positions. True, there’s no real wiggle room for negotiating contracts with the NFL’s slotting system, but the fact that he signed his contract the day before his first practice speaks volumes about his maturity. “I’m focused on football and being the best player I can be,” he said. “That process is done, and I’m ready to go play football.

[+] EnlargeDerek Carr
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezDerek Carr's accuracy showed during rookie minicamp on Friday.
2. Quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders’ second-round draft pick, throws a ball not quite as pretty as, say, Matt Leinart, or as violent as Tyler Wilson, but he was accurate -- throwing in a helmet and shorts and without a true pass rush. Carr also showed some quicks in turning the corner on a couple of bootlegs (paging Terrelle Pryor?). The only negative? Carr, who spent the past two years in the shotgun, fumbled his first snap of the day, under center. “Any time a play doesn’t work,” he said, “I’m not happy.”

3. Left guard Gabe Jackson is a beast, in the most complementary way possible. Again, no pads were used, and thus there was no hitting, but the 6-foot-3, 336-pounder’s mere presence demonstrated why he’s been referred to as a road grader. Yes, it’s just one practice in May, but the prediction here is he will compete to start at left guard.

4. Defensive end Shelby Harris, who did not play organized football last year and was, instead, waiting on tables in a high-end Italian restaurant after being kicked off the team at Illinois State, had much rust and had to take a rest mid-practice. Having been drafted 14 spots ahead of fellow DE and SEC co-defensive player of the year Michael Sam, on-field comparisons are inevitable.

5. Safety Jonathan Dowling, referred to as the potential steal of the draft by longtime NFL executive Gil Brandt after the Raiders grabbed him in the seventh round, with the pick acquired in the Pryor trade, struck a resemblance to Merton Hanks thanks not only to playing in the secondary but with a long neck. There was no funky chicken dance, though, after Dowling dropped a sure interception.

6. Receiver Noel Grigsby is small. Much smaller than anticipated. Though, that might not be a bad thing. Could the undrafted rookie from nearby San Jose State be the slot receiver the Raiders are looking for so badly? Grigsby seemed to make an instant connection with Carr, who joked about the development given Fresno State’s rivalry with the Spartans. “It’s hard throwing to Grigsby,” Carr laughed. “I’m going to have to learn how.”

7. Mack wants to wear the “shredder-style” facemask he rocked in college, the same that defensive end Justin Tuck has worn. “There was a reason I wore it in college, to keep hands out of your face and keep you from getting neck injuries from getting pulled around,” Mack said.

8. Tight end Brian Leonhardt, who spent all of last season on the Raiders’ practice squad, looked like a veteran among the rookies and first-year players. He was Carr and tryout QB Joe Southwick’s most dependable target all day long. Might he push Nick Kasa for the third tight end spot come training camp?

9. Coach Dennis Allen had some “swag” about him. No, not in a cocky way, but in a much-needed way. Allen cannot bear any resemblance to a lame duck in what many see as a must-win season for him in Year 4. He even sent a letter this week to season-ticket holders. “I think we’ve changed our team and I’m excited about it,” Allen said.

10. Raiders owner Mark Davis took it all in, from stretch through the final horn. He was a solitary figure on one side of the field, beneath his white cap while tossing around a football. This is what Year 1 of the Raiders’ Reconstruction looks like.
Richie Incognito as a member of the Oakland Raiders is so, well, last regime. Or have you not noticed the trend and type of player general manager Reggie McKenzie has been signing thus far this offseason?

Incognito
They are guys not only with championship pedigrees but also locker room leaders. Guys like Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley and James Jones, and yes, the re-signed Charles Woodson.

Incognito exhibits none of those traits.

Sure, the left guard is a mauler on the offensive line who would have fit in nicely on the old-school Raiders’ island of misfit toys (imagine him and Lyle Alzado going at it in practice), but McKenzie is veering away from those types of players.

Asked at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando on Monday if he had seen the NFL.com report in which Incognito said he was “100 percent into” the prospect of playing for the Raiders, McKenzie smiled.

“I’ve heard about it,” McKenzie said, per the Bay Area News Group.

Asked what he thought about it, McKenzie smiled and said nothing.

Asked if he was interested in Incognito, McKenzie again smiled and was mute.

From a pure playing standpoint, Incognito does have relationships with Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano.

“I’m a loyal guy,” Incognito told NFL.com, “and I’d love to play for them again. And, of course, the Raiders have that aura.”

But again, that aura is from a different generation. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it just is.

Because the notion of Incognito -- who may still face league discipline for his role in the bullying episode in Miami involving Jonathan Martin -- joining the Raiders gave pause to even the progeny of Al Davis.

“I’d have to think about that,” Mark Davis told reporters.

He’d probably be wise to check in with recently signed defensive end Antonio Smith, who has a longstanding feud with Incognito going back to their college days in the Big 12, a bad blood grudge that’s included kicks to the head, helmets being ripped off and more-than-salty threats.

Yeah, Incognito would be a great fit for the old Raiders ... just not McKenzie’s Raiders, who have already added offensive linemen Donald Penn, Kevin Boothe and Austin Howard, to go along with center Stefen Wisniewski, the re-signed Khalif Barnes, second-year tackle Menelik Watson, veteran right guard Mike Brisiel, Matt McCants, Lamar Mady and McKenzie's first-ever draft pick, Tony Bergstrom.

As one anonymous Raiders player told me last season when I asked which player, Incognito or Martin, he would rather have as a teammate, “Neither,” was the reply.
Reggie McKenzieAP Photo/Johnny VyOakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie is doing what he can to bring in veteran leaders.
What started out as nothing short of embarrassing -- the Rodger Saffold debacle -- has leveled out quite nicely for the Oakland Raiders and third-year general manager Reggie McKenzie, thank you very much.

No, McKenzie has not made what Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece called for the weekend before free agency began, when he told me he wanted McKenzie to eschew "safe" signings in favor of "smart, calculated, fearless, Raider-ass moves."

As in bold, outside-the-box transactions that would make opponents once again quake in their cleats at the thought of the Silver and Black. But anyone who thought McKenzie was going to make a splash, like some reckless spendthrift at worst or high-stakes poker player at best, with the near $65 million in salary-cap space was simply not paying attention.

Besides his words -- he said last year he was not necessarily going shopping at Macy’s -- his actions have had a decided "Moneyball" feel to them, almost as if the bargain-hunting ways for undervalued vets of the Raiders' Coliseum co-tenants, Major League Baseball's Athletics, have been transferred to McKenzie from Billy Beane by some sort of East Bay osmosis.

For the Oakland faithful, then, the Raiders losing free agents Jared Veldheer, Lamarr Houston and Rashad Jennings was akin to the A’s saying adios to the likes of Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and Barry Zito. Kind of.

And with that as your backdrop, and in not only signing eight veteran free agents, plus re-signing three of their own in safeties Charles Woodson and Usama Young and running back Darren McFadden, and acquiring quarterback Matt Schaub in a trade for a sixth-round draft pick before he restructured his contract to make it more cap-friendly this season, McKenzie is following his blueprint to a T.

Now, whether that translates to something better than a third straight 4-12 record remains to be seen. But McKenzie is doing what he set out to do, Saffold be damned.

"What we're trying to do is add some veteran leadership, guys who have some production, and just make sure we upgrade this team," McKenzie told the Bay Area News Group last week. "And that's the bottom line, trying to upgrade the team through production and the leadership."

Defensive end Justin Tuck comes with two Super Bowl rings and turns 31 on March 29. Linebacker LaMarr Woodley has a ring in two trips to the Super Bowl and turns 30 in November. Receiver James Jones beat Woodley in the Super Bowl and he turns 30 on March 31.

Offensive linemen Kevin Boothe, originally a Raiders draft pick who won two rings with the New York Giants, and Donald Penn, a Pro Bowl left tackle, both turn 31 before the season opens.

[+] EnlargeJustin Tuck sacks Kirk Cousins
AP Photo/Julio CortezThe Raiders hope Justin Tuck still has something left in the tank.
Defensive end Antonio Smith, who has 27 sacks the past five seasons and has gone to a Pro Bowl, turns 33 in October, while cornerback Tarell Brown, who has started 42 of his past 45 games, is 29 and right tackle Austin Howard, seen as a rising star on the line with only two sacks allowed last season, is the relative babe at 27.

Even Schaub -- a two-time Pro Bowler who was due to make $11 million this season before the restructure lowered his base salary for 2014 but still enables him to make between $15 and $20 million the next two years, per ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter -- turns 33 in June.

"I definitely can see Matt Schaub being the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders for more than just a year or two," coach Dennis Allen said. "You look at Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, all these guys are beginning to get up there in age, so I think that [Schaub] can play for a while."

Yes, things have quieted down a bit around the Raiders' compound since that initial Saffold fiasco angered more than a few at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway and had more wondering what, exactly, McKenzie was doing in the initial hours of free agency. He had lost the Raiders' two best free agents in Veldheer and Houston and agreed to a massive five-year, $42.5 million deal, with $21 million guaranteed, with an injury-prone right guard in Saffold before the Raiders medical staff flunked him with a bad shoulder and the deal was off.

With McKenzie already having a bad run with injured players in drafting D.J. Hayden last year as well as acquiring a sore-armed quarterback in Matt Flynn, throwing so much cash at an offensive lineman who may have required surgery and missed the offseason programs was too much to stomach.

And while one report had owner Mark Davis vetoing the Saffold deal amid rumors of "buyer's remorse," a Raiders source told ESPN.com that Davis merely let his feelings be known that he was not entirely on board with signing another injured player, but the personnel staff could do whatever it, ahem, liked.

Semantics? No doubt. But this much is true: McKenzie has rebounded after a rough start to free agency two weeks ago and stayed his course as he and Allen prepare for what could be a make-or-break season for both.

"The good news is that we've had some experience in that area," Allen said of roster turnover. "When you look at the guys that we're bringing in here, they're guys that have been a part of championship teams and they understand what it takes to win and win at a high level in this league. They're guys that can help us bring along some of these young players that we feel like have a chance to develop into good football players for us.

"It's a challenge, but that's the fun part."

It was 1960s activist Jack Weinberg who made popular the slogan, "Don't trust anyone over 30." McKenzie, though, is seemingly putting all of the Raiders' trust there ... and in guys about to turn 30. It's part of his plan, for better or worse.
It's no surprise that the Oakland Raiders need a new stadium, that owner Mark Davis desires a new home for his team. He told ESPN.com back in September that he wants to build on the current site of the O.co Coliseum but that a day of reckoning with the city and county was coming, and soon.

"Whether there's a sense of urgency or not, I know there is on our side," Davis said at the time. "We have to find out how urgent on their side."

Davis, though, seemingly put a timetable on getting something done in an interview at the NFL combine with the San Francisco Chronicle.

"They brought in Colony Capital and based on that, I decided to go ahead and do a one-year extension with them," Davis said of the city and the company hired to help with building a new stadium and the proposed Coliseum City complex "We will play in the Coliseum next year. But there's been no progress. I had high hopes when Colony Capital came in. I still do have hopes, but they're not as high because I haven't really heard anything positive from either group. It's gone silent again. We have to get something done."

No, there was no implicit threat, but having signed the one-year lease, Davis seems frustrated.

"I don't want to call it a last-ditch effort, but it does seem to be the last chance that Oakland is going to get," he said. "We can't continue to play in that stadium, with the baseball field and all of that stuff."

The Raiders are the only team in the NFL that still shares a stadium with a Major League Baseball team in the Oakland Athletics. And while Davis has made a point of saying he wants to stay in Oakland, on the current site and has looked at Concord and Dublin in the East Bay, he has also said Los Angeles is a possibility, along with any other city that would garner a new stadium.

"That whole Hegenberger area…my friends that fly up from San Diego think it looks like a goldmine as far as development goes," Davis said. "But people in the Bay Area are stuck in the fact of perception, of the crime and everything else.

"I wouldn't talk about Plan B's or anything like that," Davis said. "I don't want to talk about using someplace else for leverage. If I get something done in Oakland, I am staying."

Davis told ESPN.com in September that he prefers a 53,000-seat stadium.

Raiders Twitter mailbag

February, 8, 2014
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The Super Bowl is done so the season is officially over. Let's get our Twitter mailbag going ...

Sparano gets two-year contract

January, 10, 2014
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ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Despite reports that he was heading to Tampa Bay to join new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith's staff, Tony Sparano is staying with the Oakland Raiders.

The team announced late Friday afternoon that Sparano has signed a two-year contract to remain the Raiders' assistant head coach/offensive line coach.

Heading into the week, only offensive coordinator Greg Olson and linebackers coach Bob Sanders had contracts for 2014 among coach Dennis Allen's assistants. At least three other coaches agreed to one-year extensions Tuesday with Allen having two years remaining on his contract.

There had been a potential snag as owner Mark Davis was leaning toward one-year deals for coaches with expiring contracts.

But with Sparano getting two years, his contract length and, thus, job security is now the same as Allen's. And if things start badly next season and Allen goes on the hot seat, keep in mind that Sparano does already have head coaching experience from his days with the Miami Dolphins.

In any event, Sparano being retained ensures continuity on the offensive line.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Speculation since the Oakland Raiders’ season-ending loss to the Denver Broncos on Dec. 29 had Dennis Allen on his way out of town.

And while conjecture swirled, fans pounded their respective drums for the likes of Jon Gruden to return to the Raiders, or even Hue Jackson. Two other names whispered loudly -- Stanford coach David Shaw and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden … yes, Chucky’s little brother.

But after two years of a “deconstruction phase” (owner Mark Davis’ words), Allen is returning for Year 1 of the Raiders’ “reconstruction” (again, quoting Davis) in 2014.

Meanwhile, the elder Gruden maintains his stance that he is happy in ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” broadcast booth.

His younger brother, meanwhile, was just named Washington's head coach Thursday morning, and Jackson is replacing him as the Bengals’ offensive playcaller.

In fact, Jay Gruden is Washington’s eighth different head coach in the 14-plus years since Dan Snyder became the team owner in 1999.

That’s a lot of coaches and a lot of philosophies and a shocking lack of continuity … truly, frustration to which Raiders fans might relate.

Consider: since Jon Gruden was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002, the Raiders have had seven different head coaches and Oakland has a combined record of 66-129 (.339), including the playoffs.

A look, then, at the men to have coached the Raiders since Gruden left:

 

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Now that the non-story story about Dennis Allen keeping his job as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders has run its course -- owner Mark Davis told ESPN.com late Tuesday night that Allen remains the head man and his job security was never really an issue -- let's move on to more pressing issues.

Such as, what, exactly, is next?

Davis said the meeting with Allen, who still has two years remaining on his contract, at the Raiders' facility Tuesday night went well and they were already discussing personnel and assistant coaches, as in which ones will be retained. And while Davis did not want to talk specifically about the circumstances surrounding offering one-year contracts versus two-year deals, he did say Allen would have the freedom to rehire whichever members of his staff he wants to retain.

Entering the day, only two assistants -- offensive coordinator Greg Olson and linebackers coach Bob Sanders -- had contracts for 2014. But by the end of the day, "at least a half-dozen" assistants had accepted one-year extensions, according to ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton, though it could not be confirmed yet which assistants were staying.

One who had not agreed, though, was assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano, who is heading to Tampa Bay to join new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith's staff, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The challenge, then, is retaining the likes of defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, special teams coordinator Bobby April, defensive line coach Terrell Williams, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and running backs coach Kelly Skipper to maintain a modicum of desperately needed continuity.

And yet, with every coach but Allen in a contract year in 2014, and Oakland about to have $60 million in salary-cap space, how do the Raiders sell stability to quality free agents this offseason?

Plus, the coaches are about to feel what a lot of last year's roster felt as short-timers on one-year deals playing for that next contract.

Davis, who said the meeting with Allen went "well" and called it normal end-of-season protocol, added that he and Allen would meet with general manager Reggie McKenzie on Wednesday to start planning for the immediate future.
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The gut feeling is Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen survives Tuesday’s meeting with owner Mark Davis, a self-described patient man who, nonetheless, wants to see progress in the wake of back-to-back 4-12 seasons in which the Raiders lost eight of their last nine games both years.

Allen
As a league source told ESPN.com last week, “Dennis Allen is the coach until he’s no longer the coach. The only people firing Dennis Allen right now are the media.”

But could Allen walk out of the sit-down unemployed? Yes, especially if he essentially fires himself by falling on the sword on behalf of his staff.

Only two of Allen’s assistants from this past season -- offensive coordinator Greg Olson and linebackers coach Bob Sanders -- have contracts for 2014. Though Allen wants to re-up the assistants he wants to retain for two years, Davis is only willing to go one year, a different league source said.

Who seems most worthy of such job security and would be essential to the continuity Oakland so desperately needs?

Let’s start with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, who has shown flashes, defensive line coach Terrell Williams, special teams coordinator Bobby April, assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano, quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and running backs coach Kelly Skipper.

If Davis is unwilling to bend, it would seemingly corner Allen. Plus, with the Raiders about to have some $60-plus million to spend in free agency, what kind of message would that send to free agents? It would be hard to tell quality players to commit to Oakland long-term if the coaching staff and its philosophy are relative short-timers.

Or, imagine courting and signing a prototypical 4-3, hand-in-the-dirt speed-rushing defensive end for 2014, and then firing the staff and a new coach switches to a 3-4 defense. Same thing with a press-cornerback who then has to learn how to play soft zone. It just won’t work.

Thinking out loud here, but if that is indeed the case, Davis should go ahead and part with Allen now to bring in a new coach with a new staff and new schemes to impress upon free agents going forward. And that's not considering the feelings of general manager Reggie McKenzie.

No, I’m not advocating one position over the other. There are seemingly as many pros as cons to each scenario.
OAKLAND -- And now, the waiting game begins.

A second consecutive 4-12 season for coach Dennis Allen, in which the Oakland Raiders lost six straight to end the season and eight of nine overall, would have spelled doom under the late Al Davis. But with Mark Davis as a more “patient” owner, and a general manager in Reggie McKenzie who has called Allen “my guy” from Day 1, you have to wonder.

Allen
Does Allen, who was a rookie coach as Oakland began its self-described two-year “deconstruction” period in 2012, deserve a shot at returning, despite his platform of progress and discipline being shelled since Thanksgiving?

“Deserve” might be too broad a term; “fair” might be more accurate.

Davis said this week he was going to take a “wait-and-see” approach, that no decision had been made and he wanted to see how the Raiders played this weekend.

In the Silver and Black spectrum, the Raiders outscored the Denver Broncos in the second half on Sunday, 14-3.

In the Silver and Blechhh spectrum, they trailed at halftime, 31-0 (which is when Peyton Manning left the game), and fell to the AFC’s top seed, 34-14.

Allen anticipates sitting down with Davis and McKenzie in the very near future, and believes he “deserves” to return.

“Yeah, I do,” he said. “I expect to be back, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to come back. Those are decisions that somebody else is going to make, but yeah, I expect to be back.”

Asked if he considered the possibility that he was done, Allen did not flinch.

“That’s a decision that’s made over my head. I fully expect to be back. I fully believe that I deserve the opportunity to come back here and get a chance to, as we said, go through the deconstruction phase. I want to be part of the rebuilding phase.”

Said quarterback Terrelle Pryor: “Personally, I love Coach Allen. He’s a great leader. He’s a great leader. The thing I really liked about him, he didn’t change. When we started losing, he didn’t change one bit. A lot of guys crack under pressure. I think coach Allen handled himself. We look at that stuff (as players). I think he did a phenomenal job this year. I have a lot of respect for Coach Allen ... I respect coach Allen, but that’s really not my call. That’s Mr. Davis’ and Reggie’s, and really, Mr. Davis’."

Left tackle Jared Veldheer, who will be an unrestricted free agent, said he also endorsed Allen.

"One of the biggest things we need is continuity," Veldheer said. "It would be very tough to see massive turnover."
A weekly examination of the Raiders' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 30 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

Dennis Green never coached the Raiders, though he was rumored to be a candidate several times over the past decade. So it makes it all the more relevant to trot out his famous line, then, and tweak it a bit: The Raiders are who we thought they were. Except, no one is letting them off the hook.

They were ranked 29th in the preseason and, for the second week in a row, sit at a season-low No. 30. Sounds about right for a team that has lost five straight games and seven of eight and faces the daunting prospect of playing host to a record-setting Peyton Manning in the regular-season finale.

Raiders owner Mark Davis is taking a wait-and-see approach before making any final decisions on the future of coach Dennis Allen, and there is no indication he’s leaning one way or the other, despite so much public clamoring for Jon Gruden.

No, Green is not considered a candidate, but how’s this for a speculative coaching candidate curveball: Jay Gruden? Then again, Davis would have to let Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie off the hook first, let alone Terrelle Pryor’s agent, Jerome Stanley, who claimed Allen is hoping Pryor fails in the season-ending start.

Go ahead, crown ’em ... the No. 30 team in our Power Rankings.
A weekly examination of the Raiders' ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 28 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

It doesn’t seem that long ago that the Raiders were six minutes away from slipping into the AFC’s No. 6 seed for the playoffs.

But a deflating 80-yard game-winning drive by the Tennessee Titans set in motion a four-game losing streak for Oakland, and having dropped six of their past seven games, the Raiders now sit at a season-low 30th in our Power Rankings.

The wheels appear to have fallen off the defense, which was once not only the heart and soul of the team but also its strength as a top-10 unit. No more. The defense is gassed. Special teams are sputtering. The offense shows flashes but turns the ball over too much. Or did you miss the five interceptions and two lost fumbles the Raiders had as a team in allowing a franchise-record 56 points to the Kansas City Chiefs this past weekend?

The Raiders may not have quality depth or the best talent level in the NFL, and owner Mark Davis has said he’s patient with this “deconstruction” phase of the franchise, but such embarrassing performances are not good for Dennis Allen’s coaching health.
A weekly examination of the Raiders’ ESPN.com Power Ranking:

Preseason: 29 | Last Week: 29 | ESPN.com Power Ranking since 2002

The Raiders’ challenge coming into the Year 2 of the Reggie McKenzie-Dennis Allen regime under Mark Davis was to win games, obviously. The secondary, and probably more realistic, goal was to be more competitive than they were a year ago, when they finished 4-12 and floundered a bit in November.

Taking the glass-half-full approach, then, Oakland is more competitive, even if the Raiders have just one victory after the first quarter of the season.

“The positive is we’ve had opportunities to, probably with exception of the Denver game, we’ve had opportunities to win games,” Allen said. “We could easily be sitting here at 3-1.”

Indeed, the Raiders were eight yards from beating Indianapolis in the opener and jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Washington. Still, at 1-3, the Raiders are where many preseason prognosticators had them after four games. The challenge, then, is to keep moving forward, even if the rewards of victory are not in the offing. Besides, they moved up a spot in our Power Rankings after a loss, right?

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