Here is a link to my Tuesday column about Dennis Allen and Reggie McKenzie. The full text appears below:

Let’s pretend you and I are Mark Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders. Well, if we’re pretending to be Mark, we’d get a new hairdo ASAP. But we’re not talking that kind of pretending.

We’re pretending to be Mark Davis, football visionary.

As Pretend Marks we ask ourselves a two-part question: When this lousy season ends, do I (Mark) retain the services of head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie?

They are separate and distinctly different questions, and you and I as Mark must entertain them one at a time.

The Dennis Allen Case: On the positive side. Well, you and I as Mark are drawing a blank here. Let us think this over. Hmm. Allen’s players have not quit like dogs.

No knock on dogs. You and I as Mark love dogs. The Raiders players play hard — not well — the entire game. Allen gets credit for work ethic, or whatever you want to call it.

Does Allen get credit for anything else?

Nothing you and I as Mark can put a finger on.

Well, what’s the case against Allen?

You got lots of paper?

His team has lost four in a row. On Sunday, the Raiders got blown out by the Chiefs, blown out at home, blown out because they couldn’t stop a simple screen pass. Watching the game must have been excruciating for you and me — as Mark.

What Mark wanted to see — we’re taking the liberty of speaking for Mark here — was progress at this point of the season. Just a wee bit of progress. Instead, things are getting worse, are going down the dumper, as they say. Dumperville, here we come.

As Mark, we notice Allen is a defensive coach — a so-called defensive specialist. Allen’s defensive coordinator is Jason Tarver, but Allen surely has mondo input into the defensive game plan. What happened on Sunday does not reflect well on Allen’s ability on his side of the ball. No, it doesn’t.

As Mark, we notice something else. Allen has no quarterback. He had three. Matt Flynn he dumped and now Flynn is going bonkers with the Packers — he beat the Cowboys on Sunday. This does not reflect well on Allen and his coaching staff. About the other two, Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor, we as Mark say, “Please.”

We as Mark wonder if the Raiders need an offensive coach as head coach.

We as Mark must ponder firing Allen after this season, especially if the Raiders get blown out the final three games, all with division opponents. One blowout already is in the books. Next up are the Chargers and Broncos. Good luck, Dennis.

What is bad about three blowout losses to division opponents at the end of the season?

A head coach cannot endure three humiliating losses in the division at the end of the season and realistically offer optimism for next season with the same coaching staff. Why? Because there was no significant improvement when you were supposed to be improving, especially the second time you played these teams.

FYI, the first time the Raiders played the Chiefs — in Kansas City in October — they lost 24-7. Things definitely got worse.

You and I as Mark notice the lack of progress. You and I as Mark will monitor the Chargers’ and Broncos’ games. You and I as Mark aren’t expecting much.

More arguments against keeping Allen: Finding players who want to play in Oakland for Allen and his staff will be tough.

It will be difficult to sell season-ticket packages and to lease luxury suites with the same old faces on the coaching staff, guys who didn’t come close to getting it done.

The Raiders must do something to inject into the fan base enthusiasm and hope for 2014.

Why would fans want to dole out money for the same old thing?

As you can see, the case against Allen is huge.

The Reggie McKenzie Case: The saving grace for McKenzie involves escape. After this season, he will escape from salary-cap hell and all of that dead money he inherited. Through no fault of his own, he could not develop a proper roster. Soon, he will have a full allotment of dough to spend on free agents.

You can bet McKenzie and his staff already have earmarked free agents they want to offer contracts.

McKenzie was given a bad deal and dealt with it more or less. But he did hire Allen. That’s on him. And it makes you and I as Mark wonder about his football judgment.

He got Flynn the quarterback and then didn’t want Flynn the quarterback. But the Flynn flop may be on Allen.

The case against McKenzie is more ambiguous than the case against Allen. McKenzie probably deserves another chance.

So, you and I as Mark have plenty to think about as the games dwindle to a precious few. The whole mess could give you and me as Mark a headache.

On the other hand, you and I, happily, are not Mark. I don’t know about you, but I intend to have a very nice day.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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  1. russell

    This is just part of why I come here daily Lowell, thank you for what you do, but more importantly how you do it. Beyond that, I say this: For you and me, as ourselves or as Allen, but not actually for Allen, this was a great read. I completely agree with you, and I hope that Mark does as well. Now it gets tricky, as I will jump to my full agreement, of what is my own conclusion, of what I can only assume is your implied opinion – Allen must go, and there will be no heartbreak here if McKenzie goes as well. I can tell you flat out, I am just about over this team. I have over 30yrs of what is mostly unrequited, dysfunctional love for this team and I am kind of over ruining my Sundays. Wake up Mark, your father couldn’t see the forest through the trees at the end, don’t be that way at the beginning……

    December 16th, 2013 10:24 pm

  2. loneraider78

    The question has already been answered by Mark, and I don’t expect he’ll change his mind. He made it clear that these men have contracts and he intends to give them the full length of time.

    I believe coaches get far too much credit and far too much blame for when things go right or wrong. It takes playmakers to get things done in this league, and the Raiders are far short on playmakers. I’m talking guys who make plays each and every game by the handful. The current roster has a few guys who are emerging as that type–Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Rashad Jennings to name THEE few. Defensively I don’t see anyone stepping up. Kevin Burnett has played admirably, Sio Moore has shown alot of potential to grow into a great player, Lamarr Houston has had flashes but disappears–like Denarius Moore disappears, like Jacoby Ford has disappeared. Darren McFadden? PHSH Please.

    Dennis Allen is not the problem. The problem is the same it’s been for years. Lack of Talent. That’s what happens when a team fails draft after draft, hands out bad deal after bad deal, makes awful trade after awful trade.

    The visionary thing to do is not panic and stay the course. This team is going to be loaded with cap space and will have most of their draft choices next year. Hopefully they use it wisely and more talent is on the way.

    If they can’t get something going after that, THEN release the torpedoes. Boom!

    December 16th, 2013 10:34 pm

  3. Dennis

    You and I as Mark sell the team and clip coupons for the rest of our lives having a nice day everyday.

    December 16th, 2013 10:45 pm

  4. JL

    I find it odd (to put it kindly) that you make excuses for McKenzie (cap hell, horrible roster), yet seem to expect Allen to overcome the very things you’re excusing Mckenzie for. If he can’t show progress with a bad and REGRESSING roster (injured starters across the board all season), he should be fired? Why excuse the man who built the roster from chicken droppings, yet offer no sympathy for the man tasked with turning that into an edible chicken salad? Your piece was well written, but your take is illogical at best. The only rational thing to do is to give Allen & company a chance to work with a legitimate NFL caliber roster next year and see how they do. I imagine they’d do well considering they managed to squeeze 4 wins from such a talent starved team. The McKenzie excuses are obviously valid. You can’t build a competitive team with 1/2 a salary cap & missing draft picks. But you have to afford that same understanding to the coaches. They are not miracle workers. Their hands are tied, same as McKenzie’s.

    December 17th, 2013 1:50 am

  5. Streetglide

    Aren’t the Raiders the team that used to play in Oakland? Then they moved to Los Angeles? Whatever happened to them?

    December 17th, 2013 6:56 am

  6. rkshanny

    Lowell, funny you mention Mark’s coiffure, er, hairdo (that thing simply cannot be called a coiffure!) right off the bat. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Mark’s face; I can’t get past staring at that ‘do. Holy sh!!!

    December 17th, 2013 7:02 am

  7. Mark M

    I’m struggling to think of a valid reason to keep either one of them. I know they inherited a bad situation and they seem like decent guys. But this was a time to draft and sign a few building block pieces for the future. Whom are they exactly? What am I missing here? I see an empty cupboard.

    December 17th, 2013 9:25 am

  8. Raiderfest

    Two words. Lovie Smith

    December 17th, 2013 9:26 am

  9. Stan

    Allan goes,Reggie might stay because he saves Mark money. Best is,make Reggie an accountant so Mark can hire the SD State AD as GM, get Pryor back up to speed in his confidence,re hire Hue. That Hue wasn’t even offered another HC job by anybody in the NFL after success,says he’s a true Raider reject. Born to be with the team.
    You don’t hire defensive minds to coach bay area football. Its oil and water.

    December 17th, 2013 9:32 am

  10. Stan

    btw Lowell,Allan post game DID say “Our red dope defense” then corrected himself with red zone defense. I KNEW if I was first to post that,the media would never mention that gaff.
    Sure enough..
    Its like the 3 year odyssey for them to admit I was right about Lincecum’s weight losses. Until it made Wikipedia,they insisted “mechanics”. And an example of status quo wont change unless made too.

    December 17th, 2013 9:39 am

  11. Frank In Minnesota

    I know that if I want cerebral entertainment, visit the Cohn Zone…..

    December 17th, 2013 10:46 am

  12. Brett

    Streetglide is right. When they left for LA they contacted some type of cancer. Have not been able to shake the bad carma. I will have to say this year has been more interesting than the past few years. They were only supposed to win two games acording to the experts at the begining of the season. They have done better than that so I am not ready to kick him to the curb.

    December 17th, 2013 10:47 am

  13. Bruce from Sacrmento


    I like your column, not many of you guys left out there.
    As Mark, I would like to remind you;

    My expectation at the start of the season was to get thru mother season. Our team is loaded with players deemed expendable.
    Basically, I have my second string on the field.
    The problem is we play teams using their first stringers.
    I recall the best case scenario from sane people was 4-12. We will probably end up 4-12.
    Dennis Allen and staff has fielded a team that has about the sme record as Atlanta, Buffalo, Tennessee , Cleveland, NY (both), Tampa, and St. Louis.
    The last I checked all of those teams have pro-bowl players, we have none.
    I don’t believe those coaches will all be fired, and yet those teams are semi-talented.
    As for Sundays letdown, Allen can’t tackle that guy from KC that scored 10 touchdowns. That’s not a scheme issue, that’s a ” he’s better than us issue”
    As sad as this season has gone, it is what we all expected it to be.

    One more year please.


    December 17th, 2013 11:30 am

  14. Stan

    4- 12 because nobody thought of Allan enough to raise the teams win totals.
    He’s had the Raiders poised to win late..and it was Allan who admitted he “went too conservative” here and there. Well,that’s the difference between a good HC and and a also ran. Coaching decisions at the end.

    Three screens for TDs? THAT’S A COACH ASLEEP.

    December 17th, 2013 2:01 pm

  15. Stan

    As George Bush might say.”Fool me once on a screen,and then fool me twice,that’s on me..Fool me three times and uh, boy, that’s really foolish!.

    December 17th, 2013 2:02 pm

  16. Marco

    The problem with the Raiders starts with the owner. Mark has no clue how to run a NFL franchise. He is very much like his Dad (spoiled, petulant, demanding) and lacks the football acumen that Al could fall back on.

    Eventually, he will fire everyone and then anoint himself Raider Czar for another two decades. Sound familiar?

    December 17th, 2013 3:21 pm

  17. Gary

    No free agent or serious GM/coach will take Mark or his mother serious!
    And thats the real problem.

    December 17th, 2013 4:08 pm

  18. TM

    Great Column Lowell.
    I just about fell out of my chair laughing at the hairdo comment. Thank you.

    December 17th, 2013 10:54 pm

  19. Tom

    1. yes, when KC was drafting pro-bowlers Al was trading his picks for the likes of Seymour, D. Hall and so on. KC’s players “from that time” beat us yesterday. So yes its still on Al some what.

    2. The cap matters. I’ll build a team with +30M and you build it with -30M see what happens. And you don’t get under the cap by cutting 3rd stringers. They don’t make enough money.

    still going to hold course. RM with very limited resources has done a good job. He now has higher end resources.

    December 18th, 2013 7:01 am

  20. Johnc

    Ok this is why Nancy and I read your columns…we like to laugh…. .You have a certain style but always come up with twists and turns that keep it fresh and funny.

    December 18th, 2013 9:30 am

  21. Brett

    Laura Cohn on Sports Center.

    Saw her on SC at Lunch today. Any relation Lowell?

    December 18th, 2013 1:08 pm

  22. CohnZohn

    Brett, No relation.

    December 18th, 2013 3:09 pm

  23. Bob In Portland

    I follow the Niners more closely than I follow the Raiders. I could tell that they were being undercoached under Singletary, especially on offense.

    But the Raiders? You’re back to where the Niners were a decade ago. Where does the coaching stop and the talent begin?

    I don’t know. I’d say one more year for Allen and McKenzie because ultimately nothing gets better unless the team upgrades its talent and you don’t want to get back into the Al thing where you change horses every other year.

    December 19th, 2013 11:02 am

  24. mbabco

    Lowell, I think you’re wrong about this. Todays in the MMQB there’s an article by Jim Trotter that says what I would like say only somewhat better. I’ll give a few quotes and then the link:

    “Firing Allen would be a mistake. He’s respected by peers around the league and his players in the locker room.”

    “The reality is the Raiders simply don’t have enough talent to consistently win games.”

    “The defense played well early in the year, but physical and mental fatigue is setting in because the unit lacks depth and guys are being asked to push their bodies to places they’ve never been.”


    It also points out that players consistently miss making plays, even though they were in position to do so. Not Allen’s fault.

    Besides, if they ditch him, who’d want to come coach the Raiders? They’d see a guy who was put in an untenable position – not enough players to win, salary cap hell ($55 million in dead money this year) – told he had 3 years and then dumped. I think Davis has to show patience on this one.

    December 19th, 2013 4:44 pm

  25. Neal

    Lowell, I tend to agree with you, however a lot of Football people, are saying he deserves more time, this is one of the worst talented and lowest paid starters in the NFL. Many have not played as starters and very inexperience. Time to tell, if he keeps his job.

    December 20th, 2013 11:54 am

  26. Stan

    Jim Trotter doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Around here early on? The Raiders were playoff bound..just needed another win to turn a corner. Allen lost every key game at every corner.
    If your dumb enough to not change your defense after the second screen pass TD, and then watch the third? Your not a head coach. Not a quality one.
    He’s sitting Pryor. More proof.

    December 20th, 2013 2:12 pm

  27. Stan

    Can Dennis Allen coach a team with Peyton Manning or Aaron Rogers or Andy Luck? Sure. Anybody could and why those team’s coaches are unknowns and winning. The Raiders don’t have the luxury,they need a coach who sticks with Pryor,kicks some life into McFadden (who’s missed games with “ankle ” problems I see Curry and Lebron run and down the court on all game)
    And a coach who has something special upstairs doesn’t get blown out by Alex Smith on screen passes.
    Hire the SD AD as Raiders AD,bring back Hue, and Hue and Pryor WILL win games. I promise.
    Jeez,give Vince Young a shot maybe.. a good QB, lousy investment counselor..but that’s his problem!

    December 21st, 2013 3:44 pm

  28. B-Rad

    I can’t tell you whether Dennis Allen could head-coach his way out of a closet
    or not, because this is the lowest active team payroll in the NFL this year
    with 44% of the salary cap being paid to players no longer on the team -

    BUT – I can tell you this:

    The Raiders record with:

    FLYNN as the starter is 0-1
    PRYOR as the starter is 3-5
    MCGLOIN as the starter is 1-4 (and that 1 was over the (now)
    2-12 Houston Texans, the worst record in the NFL.

    December 21st, 2013 7:01 pm

  29. Stan

    At the very least,Allen should have called timeouts before the third screen pass TD. On radio they were screaming ” Watch out for the screen!!!”..Not Dennis Allen. He was stoic in stupidness on the sidelines. No TO,no yelling look for the screen after KC had lined up.
    Papa and Flores knew. What didn’t Dennis?

    December 22nd, 2013 12:55 pm

  30. Stan

    When it comes to Raider football this week.. Bill Romo and I are one. Dennis Allen crossed the line into full blown BS,postgame.
    He would rather lose then prove he was wrong to bench Pryor. As Romo said- Pryor destroyed San Diego last time. Why in gods name would he be sat out??
    Take Reggie with you Dennis. Gone was Hue and we kept McFadden or McFade-away every single year. And he keeps all the money.

    December 22nd, 2013 6:55 pm

  31. KezarMike

    What would I do? Easy. Bring back Trident. Offer him a tiny part of the team as inducement.

    December 23rd, 2013 10:55 pm

  32. KezarMike

    Trident? Dang posting thing that changes what I type. I wrote GRUDEN!

    December 23rd, 2013 10:58 pm

  33. Stan

    So Allen is getting on his high horse that he would start Pryor to fail?. How about not starting him 3-4-5 games ago? Mcloin after his third game should have been sat down.
    And the excuse that Allen “Didn’t have the talent” sort of falls apart when the Raiders COULD have won just about every other game. They didn’t and most would say coaching stunk at crunch time..the end game. 56,count ‘em,56 POINTS! Alex Smith was quoted as saying he never saw such poor screen pass defense. Where was Allen??
    And its not good to see Palmer tearing it up and a few other former Raiders thriving away from Oakland.
    4-12 two years in a row. That cant be the best effort.

    December 27th, 2013 11:35 am

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