By Ryan Leong
Three games remain on the schedule. For head coach Dennis Allen, it’s imperative he win at least one game to help ensure he’s around next season. It’s not fair that the Raiders’ 3-10 record falls mostly on his shoulders. The blame is spread over the organization, not just to the rookie head coach. General manager Reggie McKenzie took a gamble hiring Allen to a four year contract despite no previous head coaching experience.
Since peaking at 3-4, the Raiders have lost six straight in the team’s eminent free fall. Fans are impatient but so is owner Mark Davis, prompting a rumor from Pro Football Weekly editor Hub Arkush that they were interested in wooing back former coach Jon Gruden. The rumor generated such a buzz that it prompted this rather contentious email from Raiders media relations director Zak Gilbert to the press:
“There are two people on this planet that have the ability to make talks happen between Jon Gruden and the Raiders, with regard to him allegedly taking over the football operations, and/or the position of head coach. Each of those individuals, owner Mark Davis and general manager Reggie McKenzie, wanted me to communicate that this rumor has no validity whatsoever. And for the record, I’m personally disgusted that Hub Arkush would spread such an untruth on the day our head coach, Dennis Allen, had to determine with his mom, his brother and sister, whether to take his dad off life support or wait and hope that he would regain consciousness. Dennis didn’t have an opportunity to say goodbye to his dad, but he did have an opportunity to take a phone call regarding Hub’s story.”
Other rumors are swirling that the Raiders should abandon playing the veterans to showcase their younger players like quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The last pick by Al Davis in the supplemental draft before he passed away, Pryor was a star at Ohio State University before he left amid a memorabilia-for-tattoos scandal that had him withdraw prematurely and declare himself eligible for the NFL Draft.
He has one botched snap last season as his only official stat in regular season play. He did well in the preseason this year, most notably in the third game vs. Detroit. Pryor was 3-of-5 for 137 yards and two touchdowns. His longest pass went for 76 yards and had a QB rating of 143.8.
In his Friday press conference before leaving to Dallas to attend his father’s funeral, Allen said he will not start Pryor in the next game but does expect him to get some playing time.
“I think the biggest thing is, is start getting him into the game a little bit and let him see a little game action,” Allen said. “I’m not ready to say that he would be a starter. I think Carson [Palmer], obviously he’s made a couple mistakes the last couple of weeks, but yet, Carson has been one of the reasons why, specifically earlier in the year, why we had a chance in certain games. I’m not down on Carson at all. Obviously we want to see some of these younger guys play.”
Speaking of Carson Palmer, he’s passed for 3,805 yards, 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. The problem is, the interceptions have come at the worst times and often were the difference in the Raiders losing the game. Despite his gaudy numbers, the Raiders haven’t won since October 28.
“I would say that he’s made some mistakes the last couple of weeks that maybe he hadn’t made earlier in the year,” Allen said. “I’m not displeased with Carson. I think he’d be the first to admit when he makes a mistake and he understands the repercussions of making those types of mistakes. He continues to work on a day-to-day basis to try to lead this football team. He’s one of the guys we have to lean on going forward.”
If you’re looking towards the future, consider that Palmer was signed to a four-year contract when he was acquired by the Raiders from Cincinnati in exchange for a first round draft pick in 2012 and second round selection in 2013.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.