Raiders key matchup No. 3: Dennis Allen vs. Joe Vitt


Raiders key matchup No. 3: Dennis Allen vs. Joe Vitt

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Saints matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (Fox), at Coliseum.Raiders rookie head coach Dennis Allen vs. Saints interim coach Joe VittTale of the tape
Allen: rookie head coach, 11th NFL season, Texas A&M
Vitt: interim coach, 34th NFL season, Towson StateALAMEDA -- Dennis Allen's three-team reunion tour makes its next stop against the team with which he won a Super Bowl ring, the New Orleans Saints winning it all for the 2009 season.It was in the Big Easy that Allen cut his teeth as a secondary coach."I started coaching in the NFL in Atlanta, but I grew up in the NFL in New Orleans," Allen said. "I've got a lot of good memories there, and we were able to win a championship. So it was a big part of my development as a coach."It's also where Allen crossed paths with Saints interim coach Joe Vitt. And where, apparently, Allen made a fan. Because while Vitt is more a caretaker in New Orleans with Sean Payton serving a year-long suspension, Allen is blazing his own trail with the blessing of general manager Reggie McKenzie and owner Mark Davis.
"Theres not a more qualified guy to be coaching a team than Dennis Allen right now," Vitt told Bay Area reporters on a conference call this week. "I say that because Dennis Allen was here with us in 2006. Dennis Allen is smart. Dennis Allen has great people skills. Dennis Allen knows how to teach, motivate, and inspire. Dennis Allen is not going to go off the cuff or off the reservation by saying or doing dumb things."Hes going to have his football team focused, and hes going to have them get better."Vitt, who had to serve a seven-week suspension for his role in the Saints' "BountyGate" scandal, has obviously noticed the rising wave of criticism coming at Allen in the wake of the Raiders' 55-20 loss at Baltimore last week and Oakland surrendering a combined 97 points the last two games.So the former colleague offered some history."When someone allows 50 points or more to be scored on them, and they come home the next week and play, that team is 5-1," Vitt said. "Defensively they give up less than 300 yards of total offense. They give up 20 points; they get four sacks, and force three turnovers. On the offensive side of the ball, they average rushing the ball 46 times a game and score 26 points. (Allen) is going to stay the course. Hes going to get people healthy. Hes going to circle the wagons, and were going to get the Raiders best game of the year. We are well-versed in that."Said Allen: "Joes got a stat for everything."But told the specifics of Vitt's stats, Allen relented."Hopefully hes right," Allen said."He had stats all the time. I think he does a great job with that stuff and hell do a heck of a job getting that (team) ready to play, getting that team motivated, and hell be ready to play."With each team offense-heavy, and defense-light, a shootout figures to ensue, making this matchup between first-time head coaches all the more intriguing, even if Vitt has been an interim head guy before, in 2005 with St. Louis.
Vitt, though, said he saw early in Allen's career he was destined to be a head coach."There are some people, some coaches, that are not only extremely well-versed in coaching their position, but they have the people skills and game day awareness and knowledge of the game, that you know that they have that 'It Factor,'" Vitt said. "He has always had that 'It Factor.' When he left here and became the (defensive)coordinator in Denver, we knew he was going to thrive."Listen, the only reason that (Dennis Allen) was hired at the Raiders is because they wanted to go in a different direction, and improve their football team. Everyone knows that youre going to go through hard times in your rookie season as a head coach. That head coach and Reggie McKenzie are going to get the right people in there to fit the scheme that theyre playing, and its going to take a little bit of time. You talk about two highly-qualified guys that have won big-time at this level, and know what theyre doing, and thats a good combination."Even if it does not necessarily play out this weekend.

With Bowman heading to Oakland, everyone ends up happy, unless...

With Bowman heading to Oakland, everyone ends up happy, unless...

NaVorro Bowman’s employment odyssey lasted three days, and he didn’t have to get his mailing address changed.

The one-year, $3 million deal he reportedly signed with Oakland Monday came after a fairly quiet weekend for all parties. It was an easy choice for him, since there is minimal disruption, and an easy choice for Oakland, which needs all the defensive expertise it can get and has players that Bowman’s diminishing speed cannot expose.

In other words, everyone ends up happy . . . unless Bowman suddenly improves to the point where John Lynch has some ‘splainin’ to do.

The Raiders and 49ers have often shared players, thus belying their often overblown rivalry. The convenience was too . . . well, convenient, and will not be in evidence once Las Vegas becomes an NFL city.

And lord known the Raiders need some new voices in a room that has seemingly gone stale as expectations start to brown into disappointment. Bowman brings an effervescence borne of deep playoff runs, without being too loud a voice in a room that needs to develop more permanent leadership.

As to how much any of this translates into improved defensive play, or just a better vibe coming from Oaktown, well, put it this way.

If Bowman can stanch that level of bleeding, he shouldn’t be playing, he should be an EMT.

But at least he won’t end his career with a sour meeting with the people who run his original team, and that must count for something.


Ex-49ers LB NaVorro Bowman signs deal with Raiders

Ex-49ers LB NaVorro Bowman signs deal with Raiders

ALAMEDA – Former 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman visited with the Raiders on Monday, with other team meetings left on the schedule.

He cancelled them all.

The former All-Pro inside linebacker signed with the Raiders, Jack Del Rio announced Monday during his press conference. According to multiple reports, the deal is a one-year, $3 million contract. The Dallas Cowboys website first reported the agreement. He had a meeting with the Cowboys set for Tuesday.

Bowman fills a huge need in the Raiders defense. They need experience and depth on the inside. Bowman certainly provides that. Recent play suggests he isn’t the top-flight player of recent years, seeming slowed by past injuries to his knee and Achilles’ tendon.

He hasn’t forgotten how to tackle or play the run or make pre-snap reads. The Raiders need help in all those areas. They have been playing with rookie Marquel Lee and second-year pro Cory James in the base defense. Both guys are dealing with injuries, making this move even more valuable.

The Raiders are operating on a short week, but Bowman’s healthy and obviously in great shape, making it possible Bowman could play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.

"Not out of the question," Del Rio said when asked if Bowman could play Thursday night.

That's a quick turnaround for someone entering a new scheme with brand new terminology, but he could fit in certain packages right away and help against the run. 

The Raiders also need help on passing downs, though it’s uncertain how much Bowman can help there. James and undrafted rookie Nicholas Morrow have manned the sub package on the inside. Another undrafted rookie, Xavier Woodson-Luster, filled in for James during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

“He has played a lot of good ball over the years and we’re excited to have him," Del Rio said. "We’re a little green at the linebacker position, so to add somebody with the experience that he has, we think it’s a nice addition for us. We’ll get him up to speed and see how quickly we can get him there and on the field.”

Bowman’s experience and the Raiders’ other options may lead him to be a three-down linebacker on this team. Morrow could retain that post after a solid start to his career. Time will tell on that front.

According to Pro Football Focus, Bowman has allowed 11 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets this season. Bowman lost coverage snaps to other 49ers in Week 5 and was set to lose more time to rookie Reuben Foster, a disappointment that expedited his release from the 49ers.

Bowman is a four-time All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, and a winner of the 2013 Dick Butkus Award.

The Raiders should get on-field leadership on the interior and a motivated player determined to prove he remains an impact player despite being cut by a 49ers team he served since 2010.

The Raiders are mired in a four-game losing streak and are looking for a boost on both sides of the ball. Bowman should help a defense that hasn’t been half bad recently, but has lacked a presence at inside linebacker.

Del Rio hasn't seen Bowman much this season, but he watched some 49ers game tape this morning and discussed with Bowman at the team's Alameda training complex. Del Rio came away with a solid impression of his new veteran linebacker, who will front a young group right away. 

"He’s been a tough player," Del Rio said. "He has been a part of a really good defense for his entire career. I had a chance to talk a little bit today and talk about the veteran leadership that would be nice to have."