Raiders

Raiders to introduce Allen on Monday

651618.jpg

Raiders to introduce Allen on Monday

Pen has been put to paper, all the I's have been dotted, the T's have been crossed, meaning Dennis Allen and the Raiders have signed a contract, making him officially the team's 18th head coach in franchise history.
The Raiders will introduce the former Denver Broncos defensive coordinator in a media conference Monday at 12 noon that will be broadcast live on CSN California and streamed on CSNCalifornia.com. Allen has agreed to a four-year contract with the Raiders, as first reported by Comcast SportsNet's Kate Longworth.
SOURCES: Allen signs four-year deal with Raiders
Allen, who turns 40 on Sept. 22, is the youngest head coach in the NFL, six months and one week younger than Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin. Allen is also the first defensive-minded head coach the Raiders have had since John Madden was promoted from linebackers coach in 1969.

Allen and new general manager Reggie McKenzie reached what McKenzie termed a "handshake agreement" Tuesday night in Mobile, Ala., where both men were spending the early part of the week scouting this weekend's Senior Bowl game."I think they're an outstanding organization," Allen told CSNCalifornia.com just before his job-clinching interview, "and it would be an honor to be able to work for them."Now, Allen is the Raiders' eighth head coach since 2002, when Jon Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay, and trailing in the wakes of Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson. Only Cable lasted more than two seasons under the late Al Davis, and 12 games were as an interim coach after Kiffin was fired.In his lone year as the Broncos' defensive coordinator -- his first year as a D.C. at any level, really -- Allen improved Denver's defense from last in the 32-team NFL in 2010, when it gave up 390.8 yards per game, to No. 20 overall, surrendering 357.8 per game (the Raiders were 29th this past season with a 387.6-yards average).Denver was No. 18 against the pass, while the Raiders were 27th, and the Broncos were 10th in sacks, with 41, while the Raiders were tied for 15th with 39 sacks. But Denver only had half of the Raiders' 18 interceptions.The Broncos also ranked 24th in points allowed (390), while the Raiders were 29th (433).Perhaps most relevant, however, is Allen's purported penchant for military-like discipline after the Raiders set single-season standards for penalties (163) and penalty yardage (1,358) last season. The Broncos, meanwhile, were flagged 101 times for 842 yards en route to winning the AFC West with an 8-8 record.Denver defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely said it would be a blow to the Broncos to lose Allen."He's a great leader, organized," Nunnely told CSNCalifornia.com this week in Alabama. "I think he does a great job in preparing gameplans as well as getting the players (ready to play). He does a great job in front of the players."He'll do a good job. And really, he's young and he's energetic and that type of stuff, and has a great football mind and he'll do a great job. A great, great job."Allen played safety at Texas A&M and has coached at his alma matter and Tulsa in college and in the NFL with Atlanta (assistant defensive line coach) and New Orleans (assistant defensive line coach and secondary) before moving on to Denver.In fact, there were rumblings at the Senior Bowl that Saints coach Sean Payton heartily endorsed Allen to McKenzie, which would answer how Allen came onto McKenzie's radar.McKenzie reportedly also interviewed former Miami interim coach Todd Bowles, Green Bay assistant head coachinside linebackers Winston Moss and Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingweg. But Allen was the lone candidate to get a second interview and nailed it in Alabama Tuesday night.The next morning McKenzie acknowledged to CSNCalifornia.com he had a "handshake agreement" and 48 hours later, the team put out the release announcing the upcoming media conference.Allen's next order of business is to fill out a coaching staff. The only assistant from last year's team that is still under contract is offensive coordinator Al Saunders, though Allen could potentially go in another direction."That's going to be up to the new coach," McKenzie said this week, before Allen was hired. "We're keeping all the doors open for the new coach."Many observers think it would be good for the defensive-minded Allen to retain Saunders, to maintain some semblance of continuity on the team that is undergoing a reboot, of sorts.Names such as Hall of Famer Emmitt Thomas, the Kansas City secondary coach who mentored Allen in Atlanta, Richard Smith, the Broncos' linebackers coach who has also been a D.C. in Miami and Houston, and Jack Del Rio, the former Jacksonville head coach, have been mentioned as potential defensive coordinators.Still, with so much talk of the Raiders potentially switching to a 3-4 base defense next season, it should be noted that Allen ran a 4-3 defense in Denver.Safety Matt Giordano, who is a free agent, is the lone member of last year's Raiders team to have played under Allen, in 2010 with the Saints.Punter Shane Lechler, meanwhile, was hosted by Allen on a recruiting trip to College Station in the mid-1990s and Allen was an Aggies graduate assistant coach during Lechler's playing tenure there."I think it will be a good fit for us," Lechler said from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, per NFL.com. "He's a young, energetic guy. Smart guy. (He's) been through a lot with Atlanta, then a lot with New Orleans, over to Denver and that (coaching that) defense. We'll take all the help we can get right now."I've known him forever. I think this will be a good fit."

Raiders notes: Did Mack, Irvin protest the firing of Norton Jr.?

mack-bruce-ap.jpg
AP

Raiders notes: Did Mack, Irvin protest the firing of Norton Jr.?

ALAMEDA – Edge rushers Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack were given a rest day on Wednesday, which raised a few eyebrows.

Mack hadn’t missed practice in months. Irvin hadn’t been sidelined since the start of training camp. Both guys stretched and then left the field during individual drills a day after defensive coordinator Ken Norton was fired. Mack and Irvin were extremely loyal to Norton. An easy parallel could be drawn between the firing and Mack and Irvin’s rare, non-injury related missed practice.

Head coach Jack Del Rio said Friday there was no connection.

“Not even in the slightest really,” Del Rio said. “…We’re in good shape. The guys understand. It wasn’t anything personal.”

Del Rio insisted the rest was designed and scheduled.

“It’s something we do. It’s kind of a ‘Woodson Wednesday,’” Del Rio said. “We did it a lot with Charles toward the end of his career. We’ve had good success with guys that have taken a heavy load, being smart with them on that Wednesday. So, it’s just a rest day.”

Irvin and Mack have declined to comment on Norton’s firing and the missed Wednesday practice.

Johnny Holton concussion watch: Raiders receiver Johnny Holton is in the NFL’s concussion protocol, though he should be cleared out of it before Sunday’s clash against the Denver Broncos.

He ended up there in a roundabout way. The Raiders announced he was being evaluated for a concussion early in a 33-8 loss to New England, but returned later in the first half.

Then he missed Wednesday’s practice with concussion-like symptoms. That raised a red flag. Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio explained the sequence of events in greater detail on Friday.

“I’m at the mercy of those that are the experts in that field. He got a scratch on his eye. That was what occurred there (against New England),” Del Rio said. “(He) came in this week and had some symptoms, so we put him into the protocol and he went through the protocol. I believe he’s in the final steps now of clearing. We’ll get that final clearance he’ll play. If we don’t, he’ll be down.

“That’s a question mark going in that hasn’t yet been fully resolved, but since he came in and had the symptoms he had, those have gone away and everything else is checking out. We anticipate having him.”

Horton is formally considered questionable on the team’s official injury report. As a note, all head injuries are evaluated and diagnosed by independent medical personnel not directly affiliated with the team.

Amerson out again: Cornerback David Amerson will miss a fourth straight game with a foot injury that has kept him from practicing the last few weeks.

It just can’t get right, leaving the Raiders with the same beleaguered cornerback corps from recent weeks, with Sean Smith and TJ Carrie expected to play significant snaps. Dexter McDonald remains in a mix joined by career safety Obi Melifonwu, who played cornerback Sunday against New England.

"There can be injuries, there can be anything,” new defensive play caller John Pagano said. “He’s got to take advantage of next time when he’s called upon in those certain roles to be able to go out there and do the things that we need to do. there’s always going to be growing pains with young players. He’s got to grow up real quick and understand that we cannot let the ball go over our heads on those deep balls.”

Remember me? Raiders face Broncos with offensive architect on other sideline

musgrave-ap.jpg
AP

Remember me? Raiders face Broncos with offensive architect on other sideline

ALAMEDA – Raiders offensive coordinator Todd Downing is running a system Bill Musgrave installed in 2015.

Downing has put his stamp on it since being promoted from quarterbacks coach last winter and certainly has a different play calling style, but he didn’t burn it to the ground and start fresh.

“Honestly tweak-wise, there’s not a lot of tweaks,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “Game plan wise and things, we do things a little different. We call things differently now obviously because he’s in the division. But route concept-wise and things like that, we do a lot of the same similar stuff. Any time there’s a change, a coach is always going to have their tweaks.”

Even so, Musgrave might feel like he’s looking into a mirror Sunday afternoon when the Raiders play Denver at Oakland Coliseum. He’ll watch his offense work from the other sideline, calling plays from Mike McCoy’s selections.

This odd arrangement stems from Jack Del Rio’s decision to let Musgrave’s contract expire after two years as Raiders offensive coordinator. He promoted the in-demand Downing to that post, which left Musgrave to gain employment as Denver’s quarterbacks coach. He was promoted to OC on Monday, when McCoy got fired after Denver lost its sixth straight.

Fans didn't love Musgrave when he was in Oakland. They long for him now. The Raiders ranked sixth in total offense and seventh in scoring last year. Now they're 21st and 20th, respectively, in those categories. 

Having Musgrave calling plays for the enemy adds some intrigue to the matchup, though this isn’t a mentor-protégé matchup. Count Scott Linehan and Mike Tice as Downing’s primary professors. Those influences stand out most in Downing’s style, but Musgrave’s influence as a play caller exists in a small dose.

“I think there are elements of it. I won’t say personality traits, but maybe nuances of the game that you naturally talk to through as a coordinator and quarterback coach,” Downing said. “So, those experiences are kind of lived through the other coordinator. We were together for two years. I have some other influences that probably shape my play calling more than that.”

There’s a high level of respect between the two men, and Downing certainly appreciates his time working under Musgrave.

“He’s a very detailed guy. He likes to simplify and let the guys go execute. That was certainly something that I respected about the way he went through a game plan process. If there was something that wasn’t working itself out through the course of the practice week, we’d eliminate it or not run it on Sunday. Definitely picked that up.

“He has a broad scope understanding of offense. Being a quarterback as he is, or a former quarterback as he is, he’s not just a pass game guy. He has a good understanding of the run game and a good respect for the guys upfront being able to move the line of scrimmage. Definitely something that I admire and wanted to emulate.”

Downing and Musgrave won’t face each other directly. That’ll be new Raiders play caller John Pagano.

He took over Tuesday after Ken Norton’s firing, but doesn’t mean he’s new to the matchup. Pagano was the Chargers' defensive coordinator from 2012-16, and faced Musgrave twice a year the past two seasons. Musgrave won every matchup.

Pagano might look at Denver’s scheme and Musgrave’s tendencies when trying to silence the Broncos on Sunday.

“You always have to understand what he’s about and what little things pop into my head from seeing him, but you still have to go based off of what you’re seeing right now, the film that you’re seeing, the plays you’re going off of,” Pagano said. “You have to be prepared for everything. He does a great job and he always has those guys ready to play and there is always going to be something new.”