Oakland Raiders: Potential Defensive Coordinators for Dennis Allen
David Wilson – Jan 26, 2012We are already talking here about defensive coordinators for a head coach that has not yet been officially confirmed or introduced, but all league and press sources are telling us that Allen will be Reggie McKenzie's "guy" to be head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
That being the case, there has to be some discussion about who Allenâ€™s coaching staff will be, so l am going to start with the defensive coordinator role.
Dennis Allen is a defensively minded coach, having never coached offense, so he will no doubt have a big input into whatever defensive scheme the Raiders use. What I really like about Allen is that he is scheme diverse, having worked in a 4-3, as well as 3-4 schemes. Ideally then, he would bring in a guy who can bring a similar flexibility to the role.
There are a number of credible candidates.
What lessens the chances of him landing in Oakland though are that he is likely to be in demand through the league as a defensive coordinator, and has already been linked to the Bengals & the Broncos. He is known for running a 4-3 scheme only. Allen might want more flexibility than that, or he might be happy with the 4-3 that Oakland runs right now.
Also, would the young Allen, in his first year, want an experienced head coach as his coordinator? That depends on how comfortable he is in his own ability.
Emmitt Thomas: Another name that has emerged as a candidate for the job is Kansas City Chiefs secondary coach Emmitt Thomas, who is also being considered for the Chiefs vacant defensive coordinator job. Smith worked with Allen at the Atlanta Falcons (2002-05). Smith has done a fine job in Kansas City, where he has worked under Romeo Crennell, but as a long time Chief, (player & coach) it might be just too much for him to come to Oakland. Smith has coached both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes before, but might be considered too old now at 69 to take on a bigger role.
Todd Bowles: Bowles interviewed for the head coaching job prior to it being given to Allen, and possibly more importantly worked in Green Bay, (95-96) in the personnel department with current Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie. Sources are that Bowles will not be retained by the Miami Dolphins, and so he could be available as a hire. Bowles was assistant head coach at the Dolphins, and has previously worked with Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells and held defensive posts with both the Browns and the New York Jets. In terms of scheme, he has mostly coached in a 3-4 alignment.
As interim head coach of the Dolphins for the last three games of the 2011/12 season, he led them to a 2-1 record, almost pulling off a victory against the Patriots. Bowles is a competent and credible candidate for the job in Oakland.
Richard Smith: Smith is 57 years old, and currently the linebackers coach of the Denver Broncos, so will be well known to Allen. UndoubtedlyÂ Smith has done an excellent job in Denver, and has done similarly outstanding jobs in Houston and Carolina, where he has developed some first class linebackers. In addition to coaching linebackers, Smith has also coached defensive line, and was a college offensive lineman. He has the experience and ability to use 3-4 or 4-3 systems.
If Allen feels that Smith can make the jump from position coach to coordinator, then there is a good chance he lands in Oakland.
Ed Donatell: Donatell is the 49ers defensive backs coach. Given the performance of the 49ers defensive unit over that last few years, and especially this year, it is a credit to their coaches. You know that some of them will be moving on to higher positions within other teams, and Donatell is as good a candidate as any.
Donatell has worked with Allen at Atlanta, (2005-06) and has worked with the Jets, the Broncos, and Packers previously as a defensive secondary coach. He has worked with both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, through the years.
There may also be some consideration for packers personnel such as Winston Moss, who interviewed for the head coach job, and Green bay secondary coach Darren Perry.Â What Reggie Mckenzie has shown though, in his hire of Dennis Allen,Â is that he is willing so forsake previous loyalties to go with the guy he thinks is best for the job. So coming from Green Bay will be a relevant, but not overriding factor.
It is clear that there are a number of high quality candidates out there, and Allen will have the authority to choose his staff.
Winston Moss and Darren Perry from Green Bay may also be candidates, but I would be surprised if Moss would move from the assistant head coach job with the Packers, to a coordinator job in Oakland. He has already interviewed for the head coach job there, and apparently his interview with McKenzie didnâ€™t go well.
Perry has worked with Dick Lebeau in Pittsburgh, (2004-06) and spent two years, (2007-08) with the Raiders as defensive backs coach.
Clearly there are a number of quality defensive coaches out there, and it really comes down to who Allen wants, and also who wants to come here.
Over the past ten years there has been an absence of good quality defensive coaches in Oakland, and many have perceived, (true or not) that the defensive staff for the Raiders were very limited in what changes they could make to the scheme due to interference from above.
With the passing of Al Davis, those perceptions should now be gone also.
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