From the very beginning, it was painfully obvious that he never had a prayer.
Dennis Allen took the Raiders job in 2012 with a best-case scenario of maybe, if everything fell into place, being the head coach of the most hopeless excuse for a pro football team in the history of the sport for only two years. And then, IF HE WAS LUCKY, if he beat the odds and made it to a third year he might sniff single-digit losses. His first season he would be coaching a team bolted down so tightly to the floor of salary cap hell that he couldn't even cut everybody he wanted to because they couldn't afford minimum-salaried replacements. He was coaching a team where maybe half the players knew they were unwanted, yet unmovable.
Opening the 2012 season on Monday Night Football against the Chargers, Dennis Allen's Raiders lost 22-14 largely due to three botched punts after long-snapper Jon Condo was forced from the game under the NFL's brand new concussion policy. It's like at this point in my life each new NFL rule change is an exciting opportunity to see the Raiders lose a football game in a way I never have before. You can't tell me that eight months prior in January, a long-snapper wouldn't have been wheeled out there to do his very specific job even if they needed to wrap gauze around his ears to keep his brains in.
The Raiders led or were near the top of the league for concussions that year. Which of course meant reported concussions.
Somehow, someway Dennis Allen apparently prevented the 2012 and 2013 Raiders from being in the eternal "worst teams of all time" conversation. The 2013 squad, adjusted for "historical talent inflation," as it were, has to be among The Worst NFL Rosters Of All Time. Yet he has been extremely unpopular throughout his tenure in Oakland. Now of course, very few coaches are popular when you can count their wins per season on one horrifically mangled hand. But anybody who cares enough to hate him should be able to see that he's working with shit. I don't even want to know how many hours a week that poor man tries to mold a Taj Mahal out of the disease-ridden excrement he's given.
No, Raiders fans don't like him solely because they think he should be throwing a fit every time his team does something stupid. He's stuck steering this garbage barge all his waking life. Don't insist that he make a Harbaugh-esque ass of himself as well. Tom Cable was emotional. He was an idiot. Hue Jackson was "emotional." He was an idiot, a nut job, a choker, and quite possibly very worse things. But you bring either of those two names up to most Raiders fans right now and they'll tell you that they never should have fired one or both of those guys. It's like the CTE got contagious or something.
The decade after our last championship window closed and Mr. Davis was killing the team with his lackluster-at-best coaching choices in addition to his sub-par general managing, everybody and their cousin used to talk about the kind of coach the team really needed. Young. Defensive minded, for a welcome change. Respected league-wide. And clean. The kind of guy who would sweep out the cobwebs and make the locker room as sharp and modern as Reggie McKenzie was making the front office.
And that's the guy we got. Before being the defensive coordinator for the 2011 Broncos, the same 2011 Broncos that stuffed the Hue Jackson-led Raiders down the stretch to beat us out for the playoffs upon the golden arm of Tim Tebow, Dennis Allen was the secondary coach for the New Orleans Saints the year their defensive backfield was a big reason they won the Super Bowl. They were fucking fools up something serious that year. And then when Bounty Gate jumped off, somehow his name never came up once.
So he led one of the fiercest, most overachieving, title-winning defensive units in recent memory, yet was squeaky clean enough to be less than an afterthought in a scandal that brought down some of the NFL's biggest names. But I'm supposed to believe that he's not good enough to coach this craptacular squad Reggie McKenzie has given him in their third year together on the job?
No. If there is one man responsible for the Raiders being even sorrier than they should be right now, it's Reggie. Nevertheless, Reggie McKenzie was reportedly present at a meeting with "Raider legends" (definitely two distinctly different groups) and Mark Davis after last Sunday's loss to the Patriots to discuss the Raiders' head coaching situation. My official prediction was that Allen would get at least a fifth game at the helm. But everything is pointing to Ted Lasso being about as likely a candidate to return to the States as the Raiders head coach as Allen is if they lose to the Dolphins.
HOWEVER... I might not be saying this again for at least another eleven months, but I think the Raiders have a decent shot at winning this game. If Derek Carr improves as much this week as he did between our second and third games, we have a great shot. The Raiders traveled to London immediately after their road game against the Jets last weekend, while the Dolphins aren't arriving until tomorrow. I'm telling myself that those extra days to acclimate to the time change are going to be the difference. After a better than expected display the first week of the season, the Dolphins have fallen apart with a general mutiny on defense and an entirely unnecessary, coach-created QB controversy on offense. Essentially they're looking so bad that yeah, even I will totally understand if Dennis Allen gets fired for losing this game.
But that still won't make it right though. Dennis Allen took the bleakest NFL head coaching opportunity that was ever offered, and then he overachieved.
If When the axe falls hopefully he'll still get the benefit of the doubt like all the rest of our failed head coaches did when they were working for Mr. Davis, because Reggie McKenzie hasn't shown any more proficiency at the job. Hopefully Madden chases him down as he's about to step into a town car headed for the airport, grabs him by both shoulders and says to him through watery eyes, "DENNIS! It's OK! It's not your fault man... it's not your fault." And then they cry like babies and blow snot all over each other's suits.
Seriously, that's the best way this was ever going to end.