Raiders coach Allen expects to return for third season
Dennis Allen met with the Oakland Raiders players as a team and individually and talked about his vision for turning the franchise around after a second straight four-win season.
Even with no official word yet from owner Mark Davis, Allen is sure acting like a coach who will be back in Oakland for a third season.
"I’ve been given the indication that I’ll be back but I think it will be important for me and Mark to be able to sit down and communicate and talk about the things that we need to talk about," Allen said Monday. "But I have every intention of being back."
Allen said he has already met with general manager Reggie McKenzie about plans for the future and will meet soon with Davis to talk about how he plans to turn around the team.
"I’m sure there’s a lot of things that he wants to talk to me about, there’s things that I want to be able to talk to him about, and those will be things that we’ll communicate on and we’ll move forward from there," Allen said.
Allen said he doesn’t expect many changes on his coaching staff even though most of them have contracts that expire next month.
Despite losing their final six games and eight of the last nine following a promising start to the season, Allen retained the support in the locker room from players hoping for continuity after years of constant change in Oakland.
"The result on the field was not anywhere near what we wanted, but we need to keep continuity and keep building," left tackle Jared Veldheer said. "You can’t rip down and start over because then we just fall into the same problem. It’s hard for people to see, but it’s going to happen. There will be success here."
It was hard to see that success down the stretch of the season especially. The Raiders struggled mightily on defense and allowed the second most points in franchise history and had the fifth worst passer rating against in NFL history.
The offense also struggled late in the season as both Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor failed to deliver consistent play. Pryor won three of his first six starts before regressing down the stretch. McGloin won his debut start before losing his final five games.
The Raiders have the fifth pick in May’s draft and could use it on a quarterback or bring in a veteran through trade or free agency.
"That’s a position that we’ve got to make sure that we address," Allen said. "I’m not sure that we have the quarterback of the future in the building right now."
Allen and McKenzie took over a team that had gone 8-8 in two straight seasons but was hampered by bloated contracts for veterans who did not produce enough to stay in Oakland and a lack of premium draft picks to use to find replacements.
The two spent the first two seasons tearing down the organization, leading to more than $50 million of this year’s salary cap being counted as "dead money" to players who were no longer part of the organization.
But the Raiders are projected to have close to $70 million in salary cap room this offseason. That could be used to keep some of the 17 potential unrestricted free agents like Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston, safety Charles Woodson or running back Rashad Jennings, or add impact players from other teams.
Allen said he would like all of those key free agents back next season if possible.
Allen said the Raiders need to add two of three playmakers on each side of the ball this offseason in order to be a playoff contender in a division that had three playoff teams. The most important spot is quarterback.
Allen said he doesn’t expect a hard time getting free agents to want to come to a team that has failed to make the playoffs or post a winning record for 11 straight years.
"Because they have an opportunity to be a part of building something special," he said. "That’s the belief that we have and hopefully that’s something that we can convince these free agents that are out there. We believe that we can build something special here."