This week, NFL.com released their power rankings of head coaches. There will be no looks of surprise in Raider Nation upon learning that Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen did not make their top ten. Nor did he make their top 20. Do you already see where this is going? Allen didn’t even make their top 30. Ouch. Raider Nation’s visor-loving head coach was listed dead last in their power rankings, behind head coaches who have yet to even complete their first season with their team.
Most of sports media will tell you that Allen is on the hot seat this season. His first two seasons at the helm of the Raiders have shown no improvement. In my opinion, the lack of improvement is a culmination of factors and not just Allen’s coaching ability, yet another topic that is a sticking point within Raider Nation.
Allen’s third season will be highly scrutinized as most feel that his coaching prowess will finally be able to be assessed being that he will not be hindered by a lack of talent or depth and the Raiders are no longer facing a salary cap nightmare. It seems rather harsh that Allen is placed last in NFL.com’s rankings because I honestly do feel that he did the best that he could with what was available to him.
Let’s take a look at where he stacked up against the rest of the coaches in the AFC West and also see who was ranked first overall.
Coming in at 19th is San Diego Chargers’ head coach Mike McCoy, who is entering his second season as their head coach. He succeeded Norv Turner in January of 2013. Up until that point in time, McCoy had been the offensive coordinator and the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos from 2009-2012. Before that, McCoy was a part of the coaching staff for the Carolina Panthers.
McCoy’s team finished with a 9-7record, but did pick up steam toward the end of the season winning five of six games to make the playoffs where they upset the Cincinnati Bengals. McCoy played a large role in Philip Rivers’ improvements last season and the QB even earned the Comeback Player of the Year title. McCoy has also had impact on players such as Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow and has worked with Peyton Manning in 2012 as well. Aside from the Chargers, the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, and the Philadelphia Eagles sought permission to interview McCoy for head coaching opportunities.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Andy Reid slides into the number ten spot which definitely is not much of a stretch at all, what with the amazing turnaround he and the Chiefs saw in his first season as head coach. Reid took the helm of a team that was coming off of a 2-14 season and lead them to an 11-5 season. Few franchises have enjoyed a turnaround of this magnitude. Reid came in and led the Chiefs to a 9-0 start, stunning the NFL. The team lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Wild Card game putting an end their impressive turnaround season. Before Reid came to Kansas City in 2013, he was the head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999-2012 where he led the team to five NFC Championship games.
The highest ranked AFC West head coach is of course the Denver Broncos’ John Fox, whose path to Denver has taken more than a few turns. Fox had some collegiate coaching jobs, mainly as a defensive backs coach, at San Diego State University, Boise State University, Long Beach State University, University of Utah, University of Kansas, and Iowa State University. Fox’s first professional coaching position was in the United States Football League with the Los Angeles Express in 1985, where he was also a defensive backs coach. Fox then went back to college football at University of Pittsburgh were he added defensive coordinator to his resume. Before becoming the head coach of the Carolina Panthers in 2002, Fox also coached the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Diego Chargers, Los Angeles Raiders, St. Louis Rams, and the New York Giants.
Fox had a similar experience to Reid in that the Panthers were coming off a 1-15 season after his first season as head coach and the following year, Fox nearly led them to the Super Bowl. The Panthers made it to the playoffs two more times, but an awful 2010 season heralded his exit. Fox walked into Denver in 2011 and took that team to the postseason. Over the course of the last two years, Fox and Manning have made the Broncos the undisputed AFC West leaders.
The New England Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick was named first despite the fact that the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season. Before his tenure with New England began, Belichick was the head coach for the Cleveland Browns from 1991-1995. The Browns saw the postseason in 1994, but lost to the Steelers in the AFC Divisional game. During his 14 year career with New England, the Patriots have made the playoffs a whopping 11 times and the team has advanced to the AFC Championship during eight of those 11 postseason appearances. Of the five Super Bowls that Belichick has led the team to, they have won three.
So there it is, Allen hanging out at the bottom of NFL.com’s head coaches power rankings. I’ll just go ahead and add him to this other list, the list of Raiders who have something to prove in the 2014 season. With all the so-called “washed up” veterans who have joined the roster in the offseason, it might be easier to make a list of Raiders who do not have anything to prove. General Manager Reggie McKenzie also stands to feel some heat if the 2014 season does not show enough improvement. McKenzie has busied himself in this offseason collecting every weapon that he can to put Allen into a situation where he can succeed. This time next year, I do not want to see Allen hanging out at the bottom of this list!