Black Monday is a tried and true NFL tradition where underachieving head coaches receive their walking papers the day after the regular season finale. This year was no different as Detroit's Jim Schwartz, Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano, Minnesota's Leslie Frazier and Washington's Mike Shanahan were all fired Monday. The Cleveland Browns didn't even wait that long firing first year coach Rod Chudzinski Sunday. One name that does not appear on this list is Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen.
Despite consecutive 4-12 seasons to start his NFL coaching career, Allen did not receive a pink slip Monday. In fact, at his season end press conference he seemed very optimistic about his future with the silver and black. He had spoken with general manager Reggie McKenzie, but not owner Mark Davis. For now, it seems Allen will be back for the 2014 season.
“I haven’t been told that I won’t,” Allen said of returning as coach. “I wouldn’t say there have been any guarantees made, but I’m moving forward in that direction. I fully anticipate and fully expect to be the coach of the football team and that’s the way I’m moving forward.”
Allen will meet with Davis shortly to put a bow on a bad season. Now, it would be surprising if Allen is let go. He may have survived into next season, but expectations are higher. The Raiders will have the fifth overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft and serious cap space to spend in free agency. Allen worked with a limited roster as far as talent is concerned in his first two seasons, but next year there will be no excuses.
“Obviously, I didn’t think we were able to be as competitive as we needed to be or wanted to be later in the season,” Allen said. “There are challenges that go along with that, but now we have an opportunity to build this team and to build this team the right way, to build this team through a compliment of draft choices that you can raise the way you want them to be raised, in the culture that you want them to be raised in. We’re going to have an opportunity to sign back guys through free agency that if we want a guy back we’re going to be able to get a guy back and we’re going to be able to go out there and acquire some talent off of other rosters that we think fit the mold of what we’re looking for. We’re closer than what our record might indicate.”
Allen acknowledged the increased expectations next season. He would like the Raiders to be in the playoff hunt but would not go as far as to say they can be Super Bowl contenders. Allen has the right mind set heading into next season, which is not set in stone but likely he will return. To be successful in the NFL, coaches need time to build. Allen has been handicapped by a lack of talent and a bad salary cap situation. That changes this offseason, so in 2014, the Raiders will need to be much improved.
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