Raiders fire OC, 3 other assistants
ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The first year of the new regime in Oakland ended in similar fashion to the previous nine disappointing seasons for the Raiders, with no playoff berth and changes on the coaching staff.
Coach Dennis Allen fired offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman, offensive line coach Frank Pollack and linebackers coach Johnny Holland as he began overhauling a staff he put together after being hired less than a year ago.
Allen and first-year general manager Reggie McKenzie had a long-range view after taking over an organization that had been run for nearly a half-century by late owner Al Davis.
"I'm not in this for a one-year deal," Allen said. "I'm in this long-term. I'm in this to build this thing the right way. And I'm excited about looking forward to the future and where this organization is going to go."
But Allen felt some changes to his staff were necessarily after one season in which Oakland's win total dropped from eight to four, the offense regressed and the defense allowed the most points for the franchise since 1961.
"Obviously, I believe in continuity," he said. "I think that's the way you're able to sustain success in this league is through continuity. But I also know that at some point we're looking for the results and we have to have the results. This is a win-now business no matter how much patience we're looking for."
Allen said the four changes announced Monday are the only coaches he plans to get rid of this offseason. For a change, the head coach will be coming back.
The Raiders made six coaching changes the previous nine seasons, including firing Tom Cable after an 8-8 record in 2010 and Hue Jackson after an 8-8 mark in 2011.
Allen said he didn't want to look back at his decision last offseason to overhaul an offensive system that had been successful for two years with Hue Jackson calling the plays.
Knapp implemented a West Coast system with a zone blocking scheme instead of the downfield passing, power running scheme Jackson employed. While Carson Palmer adjusted to the change and became the second Raiders quarterback ever to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, big-play running back Darren McFadden reverted to his early career struggles when he played in a similar system.
After averaging more than 5 yards per carry in each of the past two seasons under Jackson, McFadden averaged just 3.3 yards per carry this season -- the lowest ever for a Raiders back with at least 150 carries in a season.
Without an effective running game the Raiders scored more than four fewer points a game than a year ago -- a major part of their drop from eight wins the past two seasons to just four this year.
"I believe the zone scheme running scheme is a productive running scheme," Allen said. "Obviously, we didn't have the success that we needed to have and there were a lot of factors that contributed into that. I'm not tied to a specific system. I'm tied to trying to find out what our players can do really well and try to put them in those positions to give them a chance to have success. I'm looking for production and execution."
Allen said he wants to find the right coordinator rather than pick a certain system. He said he would talk to senior offensive assistant Al Saunders, who was coordinator in 2011 under Jackson.
Allen came in talking about changing the culture of a team that had grown so used to losing in the latter years under Davis. One of the few bright spots came in the reduction of penalties after Oakland set an NFL record with 163 in 2011 under Jackson.
Oakland's 108 penalties were the fewest for the franchise since it had 107 in 2001 in the final season under coach Jon Gruden.
Allen didn't have as much success fixing the defense as the Raiders allowed 443 points and 27.7 points per game -- the most for the team since its second season in 1961.
Middle linebacker Rolando McClain, the first-round pick in 2010, was suspended for two games for conduct detrimental to the team and then made inactive the past three games.
The Raiders had a revolving door at cornerback and got little production from their offseason acquisitions, releasing Ron Bartell and getting less than two games from Shawntae Spencer before a season-ending foot injury.
There figure to be plenty of personnel changes, especially on a defense where nine players who started games are potential unrestricted free agents.
While Oakland wants to bring back linebacker Philip Wheeler, others like Richard Seymour, Matt Giordano, Mike Mitchell and Matt Shaughnessy could have new homes next season as the Raiders try to shore up their roster.
"This is a players game," Allen said. "Players make plays and the best teams are able at some point in time to hand the keys to the car over to the players and they're able to run the program the way it needs to be run. We're not at that point yet but we're developing that every day."
NOTES: Allen said he expects Palmer to make a full recovery from cracked ribs and a bruised lung that sidelined him from the finale and should be ready to participate in minicamp next spring. ... Allen was pleased with Terrelle Pryor's play in the season finale when he threw two TD passes and ran for a third score. "I thought he did a nice job in the red zone, and I think his athleticism brings an extra dimension that makes it difficult on defenses down there. So, yeah, I think his athleticism can help us in the red zone," Allen said.
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Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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