In the New Year the Raider Nation finds itself discussing a national problem: unemployment and job security. It is a reasonable issue to stress about and my guess is coaches under Dennis Allen are sweating bullets right now. Mark Davis appears to have made is decision to keep Allen another year but his lackeys below him may not be so lucky. With that said I’ll give Marky some help and grade out the main three coaches and their 2013 work performance.
Allen entered the head coach role in 2012 with little to work with. Much like having to take your second option to the prom, Allen has tried to make the best out of the situation. With that said he has underachieved even with the ugly roster he brought to the dance.
The positives are there from year one to two. In his second year the Raiders came out with more fire. They expected to win most of their games. Some against, oh say, the Broncos were pretty much foregone conclusions yet they were competitive especially early in the season. Allen had his team in contention in the first six weeks and realistically could have gone 4-2 with wins against Indianapolis and Washington but simply could not finish games and fell into a 2-4 hole.
Allen’s insistence on establishing the run and stuffing the run created early leads for his team this year. Terrelle Pryor wowed fans with his speed and mobility and Rashad Jennings emerged as a future star. The Raiders finished the year vastly improving to 12th in the league (28th in 2012) in rush yards per game and 13th in rush yards allowed on defense (18th in 2012) according to Raiders.com. Allen unfortunately did not have the air support on either side of the ball to keep his team in games.
Allen’s defense imploded down the stretch of 2013. His secondary could not stop a nose bleed and for a defensive minded head coach this was a huge disappointment to fans. The Raiders defense allowed over 30 points in four of their last five contests.
Allen will have to upgrade his roster in order to regain his reputation on the defensive side of the ball.
Offensively, Allen continuously went conservative after gaining early leads throughout the season. Risk taking is a must as a head coach in the NFL and Allen played not to lose more often than trying to win. The Raiders 20.1 points per game ranked 24th in the league according to NFL.com even though they ranked in the top ten in first quarter points.
Allen deserves another year to prove his worth. He will have league leading free agency money to spend and plenty of draft picks to improve his roster. His lack of creativity on offense and soft secondary earned him a C grade on the year. He did his best but being average won’t be enough to save his job next year.
Jason Tarver entered his second year as the defensive coordinator in a tougher position than anyone. He had to fill nine starting spots on his starting defense. That is an insane proposition for any coach. With that said the beginning of the season was very impressive.
Without anytime to get acclimated to each other the Raiders came out and showed real heart. Tarver constantly brought shifts and pressure from every level to disrupt offenses. Through the first seven games Tarver’s defense held opponents to a very respectable 21.4 points per game. The Raiders were in the top ten in run defense and quickly surpassed their 2012 sack total.
Sadly the great start would not last. Injuries and high powered offenses exposed the Raider pass defense. Philadelphia put up 49, Kansas City dropped 56 and while with a shred of post season hope the Raiders came out dead against the New York Jets and got embarrassed. Tarver’s defense ended the year ranking 5th worst in allowing 255.8 passing yards per game and tied for 2nd in touchdown passes allowed at 33 according to NFL.com.
With the cupboard seemingly bare Tarver did his best with what he had but the lack of playmakers and the ridiculous passing and points allowed in the last half of the year cannot be overlooked. Tarver gets a B- grade in his debut year. With Tarver’s contract set to expire Mark Davis should give him another shot.
Greg Olson simply did not get the job done this season. He entered a tough situation at the quarterback position and that is understandable but the way this team played in the second half of games was frustrating to watch.
The Raiders were one of the best in the first quarter and one of the worst in the fourth. The reason is clear. The Raiders were afraid to take risks. In a season to find starters for the future especially at quarterback Olson should have pushed his offense to finish strong. The opposite was the reality.
Olson had weapons comparable to his time with Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011 and yet he could not find any consistency this season with Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin. How much blame is truly on Olson or Allen remains to be seen but the conservative nature of this offense was almost junior varsity quality. Besides their ability to run the ball the Raiders ranked sub-24th in almost every offensive category.
Olson gets a grade of C along with Allen and his job could be one the Raiders can replace. Whether that candidate is current assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano or someone else the options are there.
The Raiders have a great opportunity to improve in 2014. The coaches have done their best to keep their heads above water and it seems that most of them will be back for next year. Mark Davis has made it clear that he will not be handing assistant coaches multiple year deals and why should he? For the most part these coaches haven’t earned them. The NFL is big business but this win-starved organization is ready to reward coaches for jobs well done. If big steps are made in the right direction in the 2014 season Raiders’ coaches will be justly compensated but not before.