The Oakland Raiders have taken a huge step backwards this season and one single decision by Dennis Allen is the reason behind it.
The Oakland Raiders finished the past two seasons with an 8-8 record that was disappointing and promising at the same time. It was disappointing because both years, the Raiders only just barely missed making the playoffs. At the same time, it was promising beauty the Raiders had not even been within shouting distance of the playoffs since losing to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Gruden Bowl. In 2011, the Raiders were one win away from the playoffs and could point to a number of games throughout the season that they would have won if one or two plays went differently.
Being that close to the playoffs made most of the Raider Nation confident that a coaching change would not be that detrimental, and in fact, could have been the answer to getting over the 8-8 hump. After all, the Raiders were coming off of a season in which Darren McFadden broke out to become one of the best running backs in the NFL, and the offense was ranked in the top ten in the league. Not only that, the team was able to compete for a spot in the playoffs down to the last game of the season despite losing both their QB, Jason Campbell, and RB, McFadden to season ending injuries.
Throughout the season, the Raiders lost games in the fourth quarter after leading for most of the day. If the defense, which was one of the worst in the league, could improve even a little bit in 2012, it would likely mean winning one or two more wins. The key factor in many minds was whether or not McFadden could stay healthy, and if he could, many figured it would mean an improved team in 2012. That, however, was assuming that the new coach would not try to fix something that was not broken.
Dennis Allen had a golden opportunity for his first ever head coaching job and he fumbled the opportunity with one decision. Allen was hired because he is a defensive minded coach and the Raiders needed a lot of help on defense. The fact that the Raiders offense was one of the best in the league meant that Allen had the opportunity to come in and focus on the defense without worrying about the offense. But rather than allowing the offense to continue down the path it was headed over the past two seasons, Allen decided to hire an offensive coordinator who wanted to tear things down and start from scratch. A guy who blatantly ignored the personnel on the Raiders, choosing an allegiance to an offensive philosophy in spite of a reality that said it made no sense to do so. The Decision to hire Greg Knapp destroyed any chance the Raiders had to get to the playoffs in 2012.
While the defense is not good this season either, you have to wonder what the defense would be like if the offense was as good as it was last year. The Raiders have one of the worst run games in the entire NFL and as a result, they have big time difficulties sustaining drives and keeping the defense off of the field. If the Raiders were able to move the ball like they did in 2011, there is a strong possibility the defense would be a whole lot better than it has been this season. The decision to hire an OC who was hell bound to drastically change one of the top ten offenses in the NFL for no reason sunk the Raiders' season before it ever started.