Raiders

Allen came out of nowhere to win Raiders' HC job

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Allen came out of nowhere to win Raiders' HC job

ALAMEDA -- Dennis Allen seemingly came out of nowhere.He blew past Todd Bowles. Overtook Marty Mornhinweg at the turn. And outlasted seeming clubhouse leader Winston Moss.Raider Nation, introducing the man known in coaching circles simply as "D.A.," the 18th head coach in Raiders history, teaming with new general manager Reggie McKenzie to usher in a new era in Silver and Blackdom.So how exactly did the 39-year-old defensive head-coach-in-waiting known only to a handful of football lifers become more than a blip on McKenzie's radar, and in such short fashion?"I never met him," a smiling McKenzie said after Monday's formal media conference. "Nobody really pushed him on me."You could say McKenzie was smitten with Allen from afar after seeing how improved Denver's defense was in 2011 under him, even if McKenzie's Green Bay Packers beat Allen's Broncos, 49-23, in Week 4. It was how the defense started to jell later in the season, even if Tim Tebow got the credit."Their defense was really keeping them in (the playoff race)," said McKenzie, who knew Denver coach John Fox was a defensive mind, but wanted to know who was actually running the Broncos defense as its coordinator."Then I saw Dennis Allen, so I started researching," McKenzie said. "That's how it started. My research led me to (say), 'Let me put him on this list to make sure I talk to him.' Like I said, the more I talked to the players who played for him, the coaches who coached with him, it was raving reviews."So McKenzie flew to Denver to interview Allen on Jan. 18. Then he secured a second interview in Mobile, Ala., during Senior Bowl Week last Tuesday night that Allen aced, sealing the deal."When (Reggie) called me that night, and it was late, he said, 'Mark, I found my guy,'" said Raiders owner Mark Davis. "And I knew then he had found the guy he was looking for."They struck a handshake deal and spent Wednesday hammering out the details. Some 48 hours later, the Raiders announced a media conference for Monday to introduce Allen."I heard a lot of people talk about what a great tradition that they had here with the Oakland Raiders," Allen said. "At the end of the day, what I was really concerned with was who are the people that are leading the organization now? The people who are leading the organization now are Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie, and when I looked across the table at Reggie McKenzie, I knew that was a man that I believed in and that I trusted in."That was the only thing that was a concern to me, and that was what really drew me to this job."Allen, who turns 40 on Sept. 22, also interviewed for the St. Louis Rams' head coaching vacancy, which eventually went to Jeff Fisher.So how did that first phone call from McKenzie go down?"I really wasn't expecting it," Allen said. "Coach Fox told me that the Raiders had put in a request to speak with me. I was obviously really excited about it. There are only 32 of these jobs available, and anytime you get that opportunity, it's a wonderful opportunity. Especially with this organization. It's a great time to be with this organization. There's a rich history but the future is extremely bright."Almost as bright as the stars in McKenzie's eyes when he interviewed Allen, and got to know him better. Surely, it had to feel strange to feel such an instant connection, yes?"Strange, but it was exciting," McKenzie said. "I was glad that I had that feeling. That's what you go out to interview guys for. You want that connection. I wouldn't say strange but it was good."

Days after signing with Raiders, NaVorro Bowman expected to play vs Chiefs

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USATSI

Days after signing with Raiders, NaVorro Bowman expected to play vs Chiefs

ALAMEDA – NaVorro Bowman was a sponge this week, absorbing the Raiders defense as quickly as possible.

The veteran inside linebacker signed with the Raiders Monday afternoon and did enough to play Thursday night’s pivotal home game against Kansas City.

That’s a huge plus for a Raiders team looking to snap a four-game losing streak. Bowman should be able to help right away despite being new to the scheme.

“He’s a veteran. He understands ball,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said Wednesday. “We haven’t tried to install the entire playbook, but specific game plans and things. He’s had a good week. Even though it’s a short week, we feel good and he’ll play.”

He’ll probably start at inside linebacker and play the base defense as least. While many have criticized his speed and coverage skills diminished from major injuries, Bowman remains a sure tackler who can provide solid on-field leadership.

Veteran savvy and natural ability should carry Bowman while he masters a new scheme, allowing him to make the immediate impact required with the Raiders reeling at 2-4.

“He is very instinctive,” Del Rio said. "He’s a veteran guy that’s been there before. He understands what it looks like to lineup against a good football team and help us win.”

Bowman’s fresh and healthy, a step above his others at his position. Inside linebackers Cory James (knee), Marquel Lee (ankle) and Nicholas Morrow (ankle) are all questionable heading into Thursday’s game.

He has also been a willing teacher to a group of inside linebackers featuring a second-year pro and three rookies.

“They’re just soaking it up,” Del Rio said. “They’ll ask, ‘When do you lift? How often do you lift? When do you meet? When do you cover this?’ It’s good stuff to have for a really young group.”

In other injury news, right tackle Marshall Newhouse is out, leaving Vadal Alexander to start in his spot. David Sharpe should be the swing tackle in reserve.

Downing: Raiders offense off track, answers exist ‘in our scheme’

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AP

Downing: Raiders offense off track, answers exist ‘in our scheme’

ALAMEDA – Todd Downing has friends with fantasy football teams. Those faux general managers, like many across the roto world, took Raiders with high draft picks.

They would like to know why Derek Carr isn’t throwing touchdowns in bulk, Amari Cooper’s in a slump and Marshawn Lynch isn’t getting more carries.

“I have friends that have him on their fantasy team that are mad at me for that,” Downing said after Wednesday’s practice. “That’s part of the business.”

Ah, the life of an NFL coordinator. Players get credit when things go right. Play callers sit over a Bunsen burner the rest of the time.

Downing understands that part of this gig.

“I welcome the responsibility that this job has afforded me,” he said. “I understand that I’m going to have to deal with negative comments and consequences when things aren’t going well. I’m looking forward to standing up here in a more positive fashion some time soon.”

Positives were expected right away. He was given the keys to a Lamborghini with a franchise quarterback under center, 1,000-yard receivers on each flank, an older back considered among the best of his generation, and the NFL’s biggest and most expensive offensive line.

The Raiders ranked No. 6 in total offense before adding Lynch, tight end Jared Cook and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson in free agency. Now they’re 30th heading into Thursday night’s game against Kansas City.

The mob is lighting torches, armed with pitchforks. After six weeks.

Everyone has an opinion on what’s wrong and how to fix this offense. More interior runs, less outside zone. More play action, please. Go deep, a lot. Have Derek hold on to the ball longer. Have Derek get rid of it quick. Do all that at once. Do it now.

Downing’s going to stick with his system. The Raiders will stick with their process, thank you very much, with faith that things will turn.

“When you look at the tape, you can see that we’re so close on so many things,” Downing said. “I know that sounds cliché and I know that sounds like someone sitting up here and trying to give you the rose-colored glasses, but it’s the truth. We know that we’re just this close to making a couple more plays each game and being able to come out on top and feeling like we put together a good product.

“…We’re looking for answers right now, but we know those answers exist in our room and in our scheme. Once we hit our stride, we’re excited to see what it looks like.”

There’s reason to believe that can happen. Take the season’s first two games, for example. The Raiders scored 71 points in that span. There’s talent everywhere in the starting lineup and behind it.

That’s why concern reigns during a four-game losing streak where the offense is averaging 13.1 points. They can’t sustain drives, come through on third down or block consistently in the run game. Their play count is dismally low. According to the Associated Press, the Raiders aver averaging 54 plays per game. Every other team has at least 60. The 2005 49ers were the last team that averaged such a sum. The Raiders haven’t had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher or a 100-yard receiver.

Offense is blamed for a dismal 2-4 start. Even the universally beloved Carr has taken some heat for lackluster performances.

“I don’t think there’s a single guy that can look back over the last few weeks and say, ‘You know what, I’m really pleased with how I’ve played over the last three weeks,’ or, ‘Called the last three weeks’ or, ‘Coached my position the last three weeks.’ We all own this together,” Downing said. “There’s no one guy that is going to save it or break it or anything in between. We need to do this as a team and everybody needs to make the plays they’re afforded the opportunity to make and I need to call the right plays when afforded the opportunity to call them.”

The Raiders can and must do better before falling further. Righting the ship too late to reach the season’s goals might hurt as much as a completely dismal campaign.

Pressing, however, isn’t the answer.

“You do have to stay patient,” Downing said. “I tell the offense this every week, but it’s never been more true than where we’re at now as an offense. We have a belief in what we’ve done this far, and the system we’ve put in place, and the playmakers we have in that room, and the coaches that are up in the room with me, and you will never see me waiver in my belief of any single one of those guys, including myself. If I did, and I started acting different or started calling games differently, then that would mean I didn’t really believe in the first place.”