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Allen looks ahead after disappointing year

The SportsXchange

The fan base may be unexcited, but Raiders coach Dennis Allen likes what he sees about the future.

Where the Raiders are concerned, Allen represents continuity. He'll be the head coach for two years in a row.

Considering the Raiders had seven head coaches in the 10 years since they went to the AFC championship game, Allen remaining on board could be considered a minor upset, especially considering his 4-12 record during his first season.

There were reports, coming in the form of pipe dreams, that had Jon Gruden coming back to the site of his first-head coaching job, where he led the Raiders to division titles in 2000 and 2001 before being traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Instead, Allen remained on board, dismissed four assistant coaches with the blessing of general manager Reggie McKenzie, and has dug in his heels.

"I've said this from the very beginning, I'm not in this for a one-year deal," Allen said. "I'm in this long-term. I'm in this to build this thing the right way. I'm excited about looking forward to this future and where this organization is going to go."

There will be plenty of work to do moving forward.

The Raiders fell to 18.1 points per game and were near the bottom in rushing, one year after scoring 22.4 points per game and having put up more rushing yards than any team in the NFL in the 2010-2011 seasons.

So offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, hand-picked by Allen, was fired. With Allen being a defensive coach, his hire to take over the offense could determine his own future.

Allen and Knapp had worked together in Atlanta. Allen had backed Knapp and the zone blocking system for the running game all season. Not anymore.

When asked what he learned his first season, Allen said, "We have to score points. I think what I learned is there's a lot of decisions that go into being the head coach and a lot of things to which you're held accountable.

"There's a lot of tough decisions you have to make that are the best for the team no matter how popular or unpopular the may be, regardless of personal feelings. It's a business and you have to make business decisions."

Knapp and line coach Frank Pollack, charged with implementing the zone blocking system that didn't suit running back Darren McFadden, were let go along with special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman and linebackers coach Johnny Holland.

Allen said he expected no more coaches to be fired.

Following two seasons under Hue Jackson (2010 as the offensive coordinator, 2011 as the head coach), there were questions as to whether Allen should have simply put senior offensive assistant Al Saunders in control of the offense and maintained continuity.

A rookie mistake, perhaps, and not one upon which Allen wanted to elaborate.

"I'm not going to look back and say, "Coulda, shoulda, woulda been," Allen said. "I'm looking forward to what we need to do to try and get this team better in the future."
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