Allen to return for third season as head coach of Raiders
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Coach Dennis Allen will be part of the reconstruction of the Oakland Raiders after spending his first two years overseeing the deconstruction.
Allen is scheduled to meet Wednesday with owner Mark Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie to map out plans for how to rebuild the struggling franchise after consecutive four-win seasons to begin his tenure.
Allen said after the season that he had been given an indication that he would be back for a third season but he still needed to talk with Davis. That meeting happened Tuesday night and now the Raiders can start planning for 2014.
Oakland has gone 11 straight seasons without a playoff berth or winning record and has an NFL-worst 123 losses since the start of 2003.
The team has had seven coaches in that span with Allen becoming the first to get the chance to coach three full seasons as Mark Davis is showing more patience than his demanding father, Al, did before his death in 2011.
Allen is the eighth coach since the 1970 merger to be brought back for a third season after losing at least 24 games their first two years.
The results of the seven previous are mixed. Bill Walsh won three Super Bowl titles in San Francisco and Jimmy Johnson won two in Dallas after being retained following two tough seasons. John McKay stayed with the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and led them to the NFC championship in his fourth year and two more playoff appearances. Jim Schwartz led Detroit to the playoffs in his third season.
But not all the coaches were successful. Tom Flores got fired in Seattle and Steve Spagnuolo got let go in St. Louis after posting a third straight losing season. David Shula had two more losing seasons in Cincinnati before being fired midway through his fifth year with the Bengals.
The only one of those seven coaches to be brought back despite showing no increase in win total in the second year was Shula.
The situation Allen inherited in Oakland when he was hired by McKenzie after the 2011 season was difficult. Years of poor drafts and bad salary cap management forced Oakland into a major two-year tear down that left only 13 players on the end-of-season active roster who played with the team in 2011.
Now Allen gets a chance to be part of building the team back up this offseason when Oakland has nearly a full complement of draft picks starting with the fifth selection overall and more than $60 million in salary cap room.
Some of that money will likely be used to keep some of the 18 potential unrestricted free agents in Oakland before they can hit the open market in March. Among the key free agents the Raiders may look to keep are left tackle Jared Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston, defensive backs Charles Woodson and Tracy Porter and running back Rashad Jennings.
With the coach in place, the biggest decision this offseason will be finding a starting quarterback.
The Raiders could use their first-round pick on a quarterback in a class that will likely include prospects like Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel.
While the Raiders showed no improvement in their win total in year two under Allen in part because of an improved division that featured three playoff teams, the product on the field was better despite being hampered by having more than 40 percent of the salary cap used on players no longer on the team.
The running game and red zone offense were vastly improved under first-year coordinator Greg Olson, while the defense had its best season against the run since 2002 and did a much better job rushing the passer.
But the defense wilted late in the season and allowed the second most points per game (28.3) in franchise history. Allen, the former defensive coordinator in Denver, was expected to improve the defense, but has instead overseen two of the three highest scoring seasons in franchise history.
It remains to be seen how many assistant coaches will be back next season. Most were in the final year of their contracts and could decide to leave or may not be brought back.