Signs pointing to success for Allen

Beck Diefenbach/REUTERSThere are encouraging signs new Raiders coach Dennis Allen will succeed.

How will new Raiders coach Dennis Allen do? There are no guarantees when an assistant coach moves up, but there are some encouraging signs.

One is his relative youth, 39. The Raiders have had success with coaches in their 30s — Jon Gruden, John Madden and even Al Davis, who started as a coach before abandoning that process. Resurrecting the Raiders is a long-term project, not a quick fix, and a younger coach has the energy needed for the job.

Another is the fact that the new general manager Reggie McKenzie has his back. McKenzie handled his coach search exactly right, interviewing the candidates on his short list and surprising the media by not choosing Winston Moss, with whom he had worked with in Green Bay, largely because Allen had a better interview. McKenzie irritated some of the local media by not having an introductory news conference earlier, but as he noted Monday, he and Allen were both busy analyzing college players at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., a more important task. The news had already leaked out last week because McKenzie told Denver he was hiring Allen, and he also told the other candidates, so they weren’t left hanging. Good
for him.

Allen is a departure from recent Raiders hires, a good young coach who hadn’t been scared away. Davis was good at identifying good young coaches, but he couldn’t get any of them after he “traded” Gruden to Tampa Bay. He wanted Sean Payton, but Payton’s confidantes told him to wait for a better offer, so he wound up in New Orleans with a team that has since won a Super Bowl. He wanted Steve Sarkisian and Sarkisian interviewed, but only to push USC into giving him a raise. He has since become head coach at the University of Washington. He wanted Jim Harbaugh, but Harbaugh had been quarterbacks coach for the Raiders for two years and wanted no part of that.

Lane Kiffin did come to Oakland, but only as a stepping stone to a collegiate head-coaching job.

With Davis gone, it’s a new day for the Raiders and, as I watched Allen on Monday, I heard echoes of Gruden when he took over, a young, aggressive coach who knows what he wants and will work hard and long to achieve it.

He’ll have some advantages Gruden lacked. No longer will players be able to go behind the coach’s back to complain to the owner. He won’t have to worry about getting rid of unproductive players, nor will he have to use outmoded offensive and defensive schemes. Gruden had to battle long and hard with Davis to get winning players in, but Allen and McKenzie will work closely together.

Allen paid tribute to the Raiders’ glorious past Monday, without mentioning the obvious: The good years ended in 2002 and the Raiders have become a laughing stock since, setting records for most consecutive years with double-digit losses and the most penalties and penalty yards in a season.

It will be Allen’s job to reverse that trend. I think he will, but don’t expect it to happen immediately. Too much damage has been done since Gruden left.
Glenn Dickey has been covering Bay Area sports since 1963 and also writes on Email him at

Glenn DickeyRaiderssports

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

City officials closed San Francisco County Jail No. 4 on the top floor of the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant St. in September, reducing the number of beds in the jail system by about 400. 
Kevin N. Hume/
S.F. Examiner
SF jail closure prompts doctor to call for release of more inmates

Reduced space increases risk of COVID-19 spreading among those in custody

Cyclists have flocked to Market Street since private vehicles were largely banned from a long stretch of it in January. (Amanda Peterson/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Plans for sidewalk-level bikeway on Market Street dropped due to costs, increased cyclist volume

Advocates say revisions to Better Market Street fail to meet safety goals of project

Prop. 21 would allow San Francisco city officials to expand rent control to cover thousands more units. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Tenant advocates take another try at expanding rent control with Prop. 21

Measure would allow city to impose new protections on properties 15 years or older

Tenderloin residents are finding benefits to having roads closed in the neighborhood. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Should there be fewer cars in the Tenderloin’s future?

The pandemic has opened San Franciscans’ eyes to new uses of urban streets

Singer-songwriter Cam is finding musicmaking to be healing during 2020’s world health crisis. 
Dennis Leupold
Cam challenges country music tropes

Bay Area-bred songwriter releases ‘The Otherside’

Most Read