Raiders Reportedly Finalizing Deal To Make Dennis Allen Next Head Coach
Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie indicated yesterday morning that he "has a 'handshake agreement' with" Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to become the Raiders' next head coach, according to Paul Gutierrez of CSNBAYAREA.com. McKenzie indicated that the two are "currently finalizing the details of the contract" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 1/25). THE SPORTS XCHANGE's Len Pasquarelli wrote with the Raiders' apparent hiring of Allen a "few things became immediately obvious: First, for new owner Mark Davis, these aren't your father's Raiders anymore." Second, new GM Reggie McKenzie "has demonstrated that he clearly is his own man." In hiring Allen, Davis and McKenzie "stepped way, way outside the Raiders' normal comfort zone," and essentially "back-pedaled at least a little bit, it seems, from the legacy created by the late Al Davis." The younger Davis, "counseled since his father's passing by a trio of former Oakland front office executives, made a dramatic move in not conducting business as usual in his first conspicuous endeavor." And McKenzie "didn't play the connect-the-dots game that has become so popular in an era in which speculation suddenly is elevated to news" (THE SPORTS XCHANGE, 1/25). ESPN.com's Bill Williamson wrote McKenzie "just took a big risk," and Al Davis "would be proud." Allen was hired "despite having just one year experience as a coordinator and has no previous ties with McKenzie." At 39, Allen will be the "youngest active head coach in the NFL." While Al Davis was "partial to offensive minds, he certainly wasn’t afraid to hire a young coach and he no doubt would have saluted McKenzie for sticking to his gut and hiring the coach who he thought was the most impressive." In McKenzie and Allen, the Raiders "have two young, hungry leaders." But there "are risks," and if it "doesn’t work, people will question why McKenzie didn’t go for a more experienced coach or hire somebody he is more familiar with." But Williams wrote, "Give McKenzie credit going out of his comfort zone and hiring the man he felt best about" (ESPN.com, 1/24).
INDY'S NEW ERA: In Indianapolis, Mike Chappell notes former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano is the "latest cornerstone set in place in the Colts' major restoration project." A news conference is scheduled for today to introduce him as head coach. Colts Owner Jim Irsay and GM Ryan Grigson "settled on Pagano following a search that was extensive but spanned only nine days" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 1/26). ESPN's Chris Mortensen said of Pagano, "He's a big personality, he’s aggressive, tenacious. That's what he is going to bring to the Colts and that's something that owner Jim Irsay and General Manager Ryan Grigson wanted" ("NFL 32," ESPN2, 1/25). In Indianapolis, Bob Kravitz writes the "tectonic plates have shifted." The Colts, bastions "of consistency, stability and success for more than a decade, are starting out with a clean slate, starting anew with a first-time GM, a first-time head coach and, almost certainly, a first-time NFL quarterback." Kravitz writes just because Pagano "doesn't have a big name now doesn't mean he won't become a big name down the road." Irsay has "done the hard thing here; maybe, at some level, the unpopular thing." And now, it is "only a matter of time before he does the most unpopular thing of all -- figure out the proper and most graceful exit strategy" for QB Peyton Manning (INDIANAPOLIS STAR ,1/26).