Raiders Chose Not to Build a Winner in Dennis Allen's First Two Years

Elias Trejo – Dec 27, 2013

The Raiders are facing their second consecutive 4-12 season under the "New Regime." Many in the Raider Nation are already calling for head coach Dennis Allen to be fired. Some have lost faith in Reggie McKenzie's ability to build this team. Some are hoping Mark Davis steps in and fires them both. I, myself, hope and expect for the Raiders to stick with their plan and keep McKenzie and Allen to help turn this program around. Many will point to the Raiders 4-12 record in 2012, and most likley in 2013. They'll point to the fact that Oakland was 3-4 at one point and have died out at the end of the season. Many think coaching is the biggest issue, but I disagree. While I think coaching has been an issue, it's not the biggest issue this team has. Talent and depth, in my opinion, have been the two biggest flaws that this team has and as the season has progressed, they have been exposed. I also believe this team was not being built with winning in mind in Allen's first two seasons. Here is why.

Mark Davis called first two years a "Deconstruction."

The Raiders have completely "gutted," this place just like former head coach Hue Jackson said they were going to do when he was fired by McKenzie. We'll talk more about Jackson a little later. In a recent interview with The Great Tim Kawakami Davis called the first two years a "deconstruction," and in 2014 they can enter into the second phase of their plan. When I think of something being deconstructed, especially an NFL franchise, I don't expect to see many wins or anything pretty for that matter. I just expect to see a mess, and that is what this roster has been the last two seasons. Nothing about a deconstruction of an NFL team says, "We're going to win games." 

Firing of Hue Jackson

I understand why McKenzie and the Raiders chose to let Jackson go as the head coach. It makes sense. McKenzie wanted his own guy. If his job was on the line, he wanted to make sure he chose who would be leading his team. Jackson led the Raiders to an 8-8 record with a bad roster. One thing most fans fail to realize is that the Raiders haven't had a great roster in over a decade. Cap issues and mismanagement, and poor drafting and inconsistency made their roster poor and short on talent, but Jackson still led them to 8-8. 

If the Raiders wanted to win right now and keep consistency with the players, they would have retained Jackson and not started all over with a new staff and players. After all, they were keeping Carson Palmer for one more year and he seemed to thrive under Jackson. Unfortunately, for Jackson and many of the players on his roster in 2011, they were not in the long term plans for this franchise.

Trading Carson Palmer

Speaking of Palmer, if the Raiders were trying to win right now why would they let him go? This, to me, was the biggest mistake McKenzie and the Raiders made in their first two years. He was due to make $13 million dollars in 2013. Instead they traded Palmer and ate $9.34 million in dead money. Add Matt Flynn's salary to the equation and they paid over $15 million for two quarterbacks that are no longer on the roster. You don't go into a NFL season with Flynn, Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin as your quarterbacks and expect to win games. I get that nobody knew Flynn would be a mistake, but why would you pay Flynn $6 million and take on $9 million in dead money for Palmer when you know Palmer is a much better quarterback than Flynn? You do that if you don't care about winning right away. 

Taking on All the Dead Money Right Away

If the Raiders wanted to win right away, they wouldn't have made all of the cuts they made and taken on all of the dead money in the first two years. Oakland has paid over $83 million in dead money to players not on their roster the last two seasons. This was planned by the team. Their goal was to take on all of the dead money now so they can be in a better financial situation later. Their plan was not to win or compete for a Super Bowl in 2012 or 2013. Their main goal was to fix "out of whack contracts," first and win later. You are not going to compete in the NFL if you aren't spending money to fill up your roster with talented players. Most teams in 2013 are spending over $30 million more on their active roster than the Raiders. Oakland could have continued to restructure contracts and keep guys like Philip Wheeler, Desmond Bryant, Tommy Kelly, Carson Palmer and Richard Seymour. They just chose not to and they chose to rebuild, even if that meant going through a "Deconstruction," and losing over 10 games again in the first two years. 

Sure, everyone in the organization will say they want to win and losing is not acceptable, but their actions in the last two years show us that they were more interested in securing their future even if that meant taking a few steps back in the present. I agree with this philosophy, as I think the Raiders need to become a stable franchise again. However, I do not agree with the idea of firing a coach because he isn't winning games, when you are not making the moves to help your team win right away. If everyone is honest with you, and Davis was when he called the last two seasons a "deconstruction," then they'll say winning wasn't a priority right now. 

When winning isn't the priority, firing a coach because of lack of winning doesn't make sense. 2014 is the reason all these drastic moves were made starting in 2012. Allen was part of the plan and the vision, and he should be kept for the remainder of his contract and given time to finish this project that was started in 2012. 

For more Raiders news and notes follow me on Twitter: @Elias_Trejo

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