Raiders new head coach Dennis Allen. Photo by Allan Yuan
Mark Davis: Three weeks ago, when we introduced as the new general manager of the Oakland Raiders, Reggie McKenzie said that as we embark on this new era of Raider football, change will be necessary. Reggie said that his first course of business would be to identify the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Reggie said that he had a short list of candidates. His criteria was not necessarily offensive or defensive-minded. Neither former head coach or coordinator. Most of all, the next head coach would be his guy. He wanted a winner who could lead this Raider team into the future, someone who could move it forward into the new era. The new coach will be one who could motivate and lead our team to victories and lead us to our ultimate goal; winning championships. During the past few weeks, Reggie would update me on his interviews until late one night I got call. It was Reggie. With excitement in his voice, Reggie said, ‘Mark, I found my guy.’ With that I would like to introduce, please welcome, Reggie McKenzie and his guy, the new Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders, Dennis Allen.
Reggie McKenzie: Guys, thank you, thank you all for coming. I wanted to take a special thank you to all the listeners and people who are watching on Raiders.com. Guys, today is a great day; a great day for the Oakland Raiders. As you know, I wanted to execute a detailed search in finding the next head coach for The Oakland Raiders. This search quickly led me to coach Dennis Allen. To say I was excited after the interview with Coach Allen would be a major understatement. Guys, I was extremely excited after this interview. As a matter of fact, after the interview, I quickly called two people -- Mark Davis and my wife. They could feel the excitement I had and I wanted to let them know that I think I had found my guy. When I talk about the guy I was looking for, I’m looking for a guy that could lead these men, that was passionate about the game, that was passionate about teaching, and that was passionate about the Oakland Raiders. Guys, not only did Coach Dennis Allen do that for me, he exceeded those expectations. Coach Allen is extremely bright, extremely intense. He’s focused on one thing and that’s what we are all focused on, and that is winning Championships. That is our number one goal is winning Championships. Guys, at the Senior Bowl, I went and had another interview with Coach Allen. After thorough conversations and going back and forth on a whole bunch of things, I let him know, ‘Coach would you like to become the next Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders?’ He gladly said, ‘absolutely.’ Guys, I want to welcome you to the 18th Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders, Dennis Allen.
Dennis Allen: I just want to start off today by just saying really exactly how excited I am for this opportunity. What a great opportunity for me and my family to be a part of such a great organization. This organization has really been an outstanding organization throughout the years. It is a great privilege and an honor for me to be the next Head Coach, the 18th Head Coach of The Oakland Raiders. I couldn’t be here without a lot of people. There has been a lot of people that have molded me throughout my career, throughout my life, made me the type of man that I am; made me the type of coach that I am. Unfortunately, we don’t have all day so I can’t thank everybody that I would love to be able to thank. There are a few people that I want to make sure I get an opportunity to thank and some of them are in this room right now, today. First and foremost, I want to make sure I say thank you to Mark Davis. To Reggie McKenzie for giving me this opportunity, for having faith in me and believing in me and giving me the opportunity to coach this football team. I am going to do everything I can to prove you right and make you proud. I want to make sure I say thank you to my wife and kids. Family is extremely important to me, there’s nothing more important to me than my family. They are sitting down here in the front row right here. This is my wife Alisson right here in the front. My son Garrison, go ahead and stand there bud. Here’s my daughter, Layla, she’s the shy one. They are extremely excited about the opportunity and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them. Their support and their backing of my throughout my career, as coaches we work long tireless hours at times, and we spend a lot of time away from our family at times, and we need that rock at home to make sure that everything is taken care of. That’s what my family is to me. I want to make sure I say thank you to my mom and dad. Obviously, without them I wouldn’t be here today. They instilled a lot of my core values and the things I believe in and the things that allowed me to get to this position. Without them, this wouldn’t be possible and I want to make sure I say thank you to them. There are so many other people that I would love to be able to thank and mention by name. So many countless friends, so many countless family members, countless coaches, teammates all the way from little league on that have helped get me to this point. I can’t call them all out by name but I want to make sure I say thank you to all those people. The Oakland Raiders are a team with a rich tradition, a rich history, a championship tradition. A team that’s won three world championships, a team that has had four AFC West championships, a team that has won 17 division titles in 41 years in the National Football League. That’s a great tradition and a great building block for us to build on for what we are trying to get accomplished here. Al Davis was a big part of developing that tradition and a big part of setting the foundation for what we are and what we are going to become. This is a new day in Oakland Raider football. We are progressing forward and we are going to set our own goals and aspirations in the things we want to try to get accomplished within the organization. This organization is committed to winning. Mr. Davis used to say Commitment to Excellence. We are committed to excellence within this organization. I remember watching the Oakland Raiders growing up back in the ‘70s and ‘80s and just watching what a great team they were and I just really admired the way that they played the game. They played with toughness, with physical-ness, with passion for the game. They played with a respect for the game and that’s the type of team that you’re going to see with the Oakland Raiders as we go forward. I want to take an opportunity to just say thank you to the fans, the Raider Nation. I know what an incredibly great environment it is over at the Coliseum to come in and play a game. It’s a very tough, tough environment to play in. We had the opportunity to come here and play this year as I was with the Broncos, and it was an extremely tough environment to play in. We’ve got a great fan base of loyal, passionate fans, and we’re going to do everything that we can to make you proud of the type of team that we’re going to put on the field, because we are going to put a team out there that is going to play with passion, that is going to play with emotion, that is going to play with discipline, that is going to play the game the right way with a respect for the game and a respect for the people that have played the game before them. The vision for the future of the Oakland Raiders is going to be just that. It’s going to be a tough, smart, disciplined, committed football team. See, you don’t win football games in the National Football League by talent alone. There are a lot of other things that are a part of that, and those are the things that we’re going to develop and those are the things that we are going to preach on a day to day basis to our players, because we do have talented players. We have enough talent in our team to compete for a championship, and that is what our goal is going to be every year. We’ve got to play smart. We’ve got to play tough. We’ve got to play disciplined. And we’ve got to be committed to doing the things that it takes to win in the National Football League. And those are the things that we’re going to do. On offense, I know a lot of you guys want to know, ‘Hey, what’s your offensive philosophy? What are you going to do here? How are you going to play defense? What are you going to do there?’ I’m going to sum it up real quickly for you guys. On offense, we’re going to be up-tempo. We want to be fast, we want to be aggressive. You’ll hear me use that word a lot, aggressiveness, and I think that’s critical in the game of football. We want to be fast. We want to be up-tempo. We’re going to be able to run the football and run the football solidly so we can stay ahead of the chains on first and second down, okay, and we’re going to be explosive in the passing game. We’ve got those weapons in place to be able to do that, and that’s what we’re going to do. On defense, again, I come from a defensive background and my mentality has always been, and always will be, that we’re going to be an aggressive, attacking style of defense. We’re going to be an aggressive, attacking style of defense built on stopping the run and getting after the quarterback and those are the things that you have to do defensively to be successful in the National Football League. And finally on special teams, again, our coverage units are going to be fast and aggressive. We’ve got some of the best specialists in the game and our returners are going to be explosive. Guys, I can’t tell you how excited I am about the opportunity to be a part of the Oakland Raiders, and to be the 18th head football coach of the Oakland Raiders. It’s a new beginning for us. We’re moving forward and I’m excited about the opportunity. I’m excited about the things Mr. Davis is doing. I’m excited about the things that Reggie McKenzie is doing. And this is a team that is going to be committed to winning in the future. And with that, I’ll take your questions.
Raiders staff member: We provided our season ticket holders with an opportunity to submit questions to be asked of you, Coach Allen. These responses were tremendous and overwhelming. Our season ticket holders have submitted a variety of questions and extended congratulations and welcome you to the Raider Nation. Today, we have two of our season ticket holders, Digger and Agnes Sasaki, who are going to be reading questions, and to the media, we appreciate your patience as we ask these questions, you’ll have ample time to ask yours. Thanks.
Q: Coach Allen, welcome. I’m Agnes Sasaki and this is my husband Digger Sasaki. He has had season tickets from the beginning. When I met him, he was single. Thank goodness he had two seats. And now, we have a granddaughter, a three-year old granddaughter. She’s been to three games already. She lives down south, but we’re introducing her to the Raiders and she just enjoys it a lot. We’re privileged to be representing the Raider Nation, and I will be asking three of the questions, as Courtney said there were so many submitted, but once again, welcome and I’ll ask the questions from the fans. Question number one is from Paul, Beth, and Emily Entwistle: Coach Allen, welcome to the Raider family. As season ticket holders, we are very proud of the Raiders unique and meaningful connection with former Raider players. In a post-Al Davis era, how do you as the head coach fulfill Al Davis’ vision - The greatness of the Raiders is in its future, while continuing the Raider tradition of a strong connection with our past?
Dennis Allen: Well I think first and foremost, I think we do embrace the Raider tradition. There’s been so many great players that have played here, so many great people that have been a part of this organization, and we do embrace that tradition and we welcome those people to be around because they are part of the foundation for what the Oakland Raiders are and what the Oakland Raiders are going to be in the future. Moving forward though, this is a new day. This is a new Oakland Raiders, and we’re going to proceed forward and push forward and be one of those teams that is going to be smart, tough, disciplined, and do things the right way. We’re going to build a team that we want our fans to be extremely proud of, and every time we go out on the field, we’re going to play with a respect for the game and a passion for the game that you can be proud of.
Q: Question two is from Robert Johnson. First of all he says welcome to the Oakland Raiders Coach Allen. The question is this: I feel the talent level among NFL teams is fairly even. What’s the most critical thing a head coach must do to get his players to play their very best?”
Dennis Allen: Well I think a head coach’s job, and a coach in general, is to lead, motivate, and inspire. That’s what our job is to do. We’ve got to lead these men so they want to follow us. We’ve got to motivate them to play better than they’ve ever played before. We’ve got to inspire them to heights of greatness. And those are the things that we want to try to do with this football team and I think we do have the players in place to compete at the highest level in the National Football League. What we have to be able to do is we have to do it with more consistency and discipline on a day to day basis.
Q: Question three is from Charles Stokes. What is your number one priority with the 2012 Raiders?
Dennis Allen: Our number one priority with the 2012 Raiders is: We’re here to win a championship, and at the end of the day that is why we are in this business, to win championships, and that is what our goal is going to be every year we step foot onto the field.
Q: You talked about a Commitment to Excellence, and another one of Al Davis’ sayings was Pride and Poise, but over the last ten years, several men have had your job and they weren’t able to fix some of the discipline problems, talking about on the field with all of the penalties. What are some of the tangible things that you are going to do to cut down because you are taking over a team that’s the most penalized in NFL history? What are some of the philosophies and tangible things you are going to do to remedy that?
Dennis Allen: I can’t speak for what’s happened in the past but I know from what I’ve dealt with. The thing that we’re going to do is, the only way that you create habits is through consistency, doing the same things over and over and over. Well, if you are committing penalties, that becomes a habit. We’ve got to change those habits. We’ve got to develop the proper habits, so that we’re not creating those penalties on a day to day basis. It starts with how you operate in practice and we’re going to operate in a manner in practice that we are going to preach discipline, and discipline is going to be a fundamental factor in what we do every day. And if we preach fundamentals and we preach discipline, day in, day out, and we’re consistent with it as a coaching staff, the players are going to fall right in line.
Q: When you took this job and set about looking for a head coach, was Dennis a guy that was at the forefront of your thoughts already at that time?
Reggie McKenzie: Yes, Coach Allen, once I started to put my list together, I targeted Coach Allen. I did not intend and did not want to give out my list of who I was looking at, but Coach Allen was on my target list, absolutely, from the start.
Q: This hire was first reported or at least the agreement almost a week ago. What took so long to have this get announced?
Reggie McKenzie: To get from the Senior Bowl to here today? Well, we set the press conference today. Once we agreed and the contract was signed, we started work that day. We just delayed to have this press conference until all the logistics. I was in Mobile, Alabama, we had too many things going on, but nothing in particular.
Q: You talked about that you have the talent on the offensive side. But when you look at the defensive side, do you see, with all of the problems they had, that you have enough talent on that side or do you have to come in and make radical changes?
Dennis Allen: No, I don’t think radical changes are what need to be made. I do think that there, obviously, just with all aspects of the game, you’re always going to try to upgrade your team in whatever way that you can. But I do still feel like there’s a talented defense and I feel like we’ve got enough players, both on offense and defense that we can win a championship with.
Q: You mentioned some of your philosophies on offense; I wondered who you saw as your offensive coordinator in carrying out those philosophies?
Dennis Allen: Well I’ll tell you, we’re in the process right now, really, of formulating our whole staff and right now that process is going extremely well. I’m not going to get into who those guys are right now. There’ll be a time and place where we’ll make those announcements. But we are in the process of formulating our whole staff.
Q: I understand if you can’t get into the process right now, but I just wondered, is Al Saunders in the mix, can you reveal that? And then just what type of OC are you looking for?
Dennis Allen: Well the type of OC I’m looking for, really, at the end of the day, is the same things I’ve talked about offensively of what we want to be able to do. We want to be an up-tempo offense that can run the ball and be explosive in the passing game. And so those are the things that we’re looking for, for guys that can get that accomplished. Al Saunders is a guy that is under contract with us right now, and again, we’re exploring all our opportunities, our avenues, excuse me, as far as what we are going to do there.
Q: Reggie, you said Dennis was the coach you targeted. What about him, before you did the interviews, made you target him? What were the aspects in this guy that you knew you wanted to take a look at him?
Reggie McKenzie: Researching Coach Allen, to follow where he came from, what led him to Denver. When he got to New Orleans, going from the defensive line to the secondary, I saw how the secondary vastly improved and won the Super Bowl with Dennis as secondary coach. What he did in
Q: Reggie, I think Dennis mentioned the words passionate and disciplined five or six times just in the first few minutes; were those the exact issues you were identifying when you were looking for a coach?
Reggie McKenzie: Those were some. Of course I was definitely looking for a coach with great passion. He had all of that and then some. I respect the man, Dennis Allen. The more we talk football, the more I respect his detailed outlay for the game, his plan, how smart he was, I’m talking football smart; it was unquestionable. So all of that was positive and to me, he had everything that I was looking for in a head coach.
Q: Do you plan on being the defensive play caller or having your defensive coordinator essentially run the defense and just take cues from you? And second question for both of you; have both of you talked to
Dennis Allen: Number one, I’m going to be heavily involved in all aspects of the game; all aspects of the game planning, offense, defense, special teams. I don’t believe that the head football coach can do an effective job as the head football coach if he’s calling plays, offensively or defensively. So from that standpoint, on Sundays, I will be a game manager on Sunday, with a lot of input on what we do both offensively, defensively, and special teams. And in regard to your second question, I have talked to Carson Palmer. Carson Palmer is extremely excited about what we have going here. He’s looking forward to the future and he’s excited about the opportunities here.
Reggie McKenzie: Same, also I have spoken to
Q: What are the biggest challenges going into your first head coaching job and are there guys you lean on, head coaches you’ve worked with in the past that you’ll lean on for advice?
Dennis Allen: Absolutely. I think any time you go into a new venture, just the unknown is the biggest challenge. Obviously, I’m not going to sit here and say I know everything there is to know about being the head football coach, because I don’t. But those are things that I’m a smart enough guy that you learn those as you go along and I’ve got great mentors and great resources that I can count on to give me advice any time I need it. I’ve got Sean Payton who’s one of the, really a brilliant, innovative offensive coach but also an outstanding head coach. He understands exactly how to run a program and work with players. I just spent a year with John Fox who’s really done a great job throughout his career there in Carolina and obviously there in Denver. So there are several resources. Dan Reeves is another guy that, he brought me into this league and gave me my first opportunity to coach in the National Football League. So I’ve got some great resources that I can rely on and lean on in times when I hit a situation where I need some help.
Q: Reggie spoke earlier about how he had asked about you and nobody ever said a bad thing about you. When you were talking about the Raiders, what had you heard, both positive and negative, about working in this organization?
Dennis Allen: Well I think I heard a lot of people talk about what a great tradition they had here at the Oakland Raiders. At the end of the day, what I was really concerned with was who are the people that are leading the organization now. And the people that are leading the organization now are Mark Davis and Reggie McKenzie, and when I looked across the table at Reggie McKenzie, I knew that was a man that I believed in and I trusted in, and that was the only thing that really was a concern to me. That is what really drew me to this job.
Q: Was that kind of strange to feel that kind of instant connection with somebody that you didn’t really know anything about other than your research in looking for a head coach?
Reggie McKenzie: Strange, but it was exciting. I was glad that I had that feeling. That’s what you go out to interview guys for. You want that connection. I wouldn’t say strange, but it was good.
Q: As your first head coaching job, The Raiders, as you mentioned, have a very storied history, a lot of success in the past, but they haven’t been there in quite a while over the last decade. How do you hope to put your stamp on this team?
Dennis Allen: Really by the same way that I was able to have a part in some of the other organizations that really were down a little bit and we were able to bring them back. When you look at the New Orleans Saints were 3-13; Sean Payton goes in there, I was part of the first coaching staff there. We took a team and went to the NFC Championship game the very next year, four years later we’re in the Super Bowl and winning a world championship. The Denver team last year was a down team at 4-12; we turned that team around, won a division title. Those are the same things that I intend for us to be able to do here. And listen, it’s not going to be an easy task ,but we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work and there’s a lot of things that can be accomplished through hard work and dedication and those are the things that we’re going to try to get done.
Q: Some of these guys on the roster have been around a long time through different regimes. Have you thought about what you could possibly say to these guys to get them to buy what you’re selling essentially to get their attention moving forward?
Dennis Allen: I think first and foremost, if you want people to believe in what you’re selling, you have to believe in it yourself. I think that’s the first and foremost thing that I make sure we do is we’re going to preach the message that we believe in. If you’re passionate about the message that you believe in, I firmly believe that you can get people to follow you. Our message to these players that we’re going to look for tough, smart, hard working, committed football players that want to be the best. We’re not going to settle for anything less than that.
Q: Coach, are you a 4-3 guy aggressively or you open to whatever? And also for Reggie, previous coaches have gotten two- year contracts why did you give Dennis a four-year deal?
Dennis Allen: Well the first question about 4-3, 3-4 you know I think a lot of times way too much is made of whether you’re 4-3 or 3-4. That’s just the amount of defensive lineman or linebackers that you put onto the field. We are going to be multiple in the way that we’ll line up. We are going to do a lot of different things on defense. Again, we are going to be attacking and aggressive and a bunch of different areas and so I don’t really get hung up on the 4-3, 3-4 personnel. We’re going to find what our players can do the best and we are going to put them in the best positions that we can so that they can be successful and play the game at the highest level.
Reggie McKenzie: On the question on the contract, I would not ever discuss contracts players, coaches, or anyone at that. But I will tell you this, I am committed to Coach Dennis Allen and what we are going to do in the next few years.
Q: What are some of the key areas that you think are most important right now on both offense and defense? And then for Reggie you said in your press conference everyone is going to have to compete being as you both spoke with Carson Palmer does that mean
Dennis Allen: Well, first of all I think when you talk about key positions and key things that we’ve got to get addressed you know obviously the most critical position in all of football is the quarterback position. I’m excited by the fact that we’ve got some guys here that I feel like are fully capable of competing at the highest level at the quarterback position. I think that overall offensively we’ve got a pretty good nucleus of guys that we feel like we can compete with. Obviously there’s going to be a few things as Reggie and I go through the personnel together there will be a few things that we’re going to have to make sure to address. I think specifically from a defensive standpoint I think we’ve obviously got to look at some of the things in the secondary and make sure we’ve got the right things in place there. But again, I think that we have the nucleus of a solid football team and with Reggie and I working together and seeing things eye to eye, we’re going to get the right people in here and we’ve got the right people to get the job done.
Reggie McKenzie: On your statement on Jason, he’s a free agent just like the rest of the free agents we’re going to evaluate the situation. We’re going to bring the best 80-man roster to compete. I mean that’s all I can tell you. What’s happening to names you know, Jason is one of those guys that we can target if we want him to compete then we’ll go after him. We’re going to go after good players.
Q: You talked about some of the jobs and places you’ve been you mentioned 3-13 and 4-12. You’re coming in to a team that’s been 8-8 the past couple of years and a defensive that has struggled. Rate the overall talent from your view of the players that you have defensively; do you have a playoff-level talent?
Dennis Allen: Actually I do. I do think that we have playoff- level talent and again just like any other years there’s always a couple critical pieces that you have to make sure you add to that team to give yourself a chance to be successful. No different than any other situation and I do feel like that we have a nucleus of talent and we’ve got some places that we’ve got to get better at. We’ve got some holes that we have to make sure that we fill. And that’s what Reggie and I are going to be working on throughout this off season to make sure we bring in the best people and the best players to give us a chance to do that.
Q: Reggie said that he felt he was targeting you, did you feel the targeting? Are you ahead of your own personal schedule? At 39, is this where you thought you would be? Are you surprised that you’re here where you are?
Dennis Allen: Well, first of all, I don’t think you ever want to set boundaries on yourself. I’m excited about the opportunity to be here. I don’t think you can ever apologize for being young. Don’t set boundaries on yourself, work hard, and just continue to do your best in everything that you do and good things work out and I firmly believe in that. So whether I’m ahead of my personal schedule, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m ahead of my personal schedule or not, but I certainly am excited about this opportunity.
Q: Coach, coming from a divisional rival, how much of an edge does that give you in the fact that you’ve seen the other teams in the division?
Dennis Allen: Well, I think just the fact that I’ve been in this division is obviously an advantage for me, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to compete against the Kansas City Chiefs, we have to compete against the Denver Broncos. This is a very, very competitive division and I’m glad that I had an opportunity to work in it a year so I have a better feel for what we’re going up against.
Q: This team has always had a history under Al Davis of giving players a lot of personal freedom, latitude, or whatever you would call it. You’ve been described as a disciplinarian. Is this going to be a shift or change, change of culture, under you?
Dennis Allen: You know, I wasn’t here with Mr. Davis, so I don’t know exactly how things were run. What I do know is that the way that I view that you coach players is you coach them firm and you coach them fair and you hold them accountable to their actions. That’s what we’re going to do here. I don’t know how it was done in the past because I wasn’t here, but I do know that that is what I believe in.
Q: Speaking hypothetically, let’s say I’m a gifted, yet undisciplined, football player for the Oakland Raiders, making constant mental mistakes, whatever. What do you tell me behind closed doors to get me on the right track?
Dennis Allen: At the end of the day, we’ve got to have a discussion about…we want to play the best players. We want to play the players that are going to make plays for us and the players who are not going to give up the big plays for the other team. At the end of the day, if we have talented players that aren’t competing and aren’t making plays, then we have to look at making changes. That’s what being in the first year of your regime is all about and we’re going to evaluate every single player on this team and we’re going to do everything we can to get them to play the best that they can play.
Q: You played for some very strong defenses at Texas A&M. Were there strategies, principles in the defense, that you learned there that still shape you as a coach?
Dennis Allen: Well I think that’s where we first kind of got the fast, aggressive, attacking style of defense. The “Wrecking Crew” there at A&M that I was fortunate enough to be a part of, that was the style of defense we played. I was obviously fortunate enough to coach under Wade Phillips who kind of runs the same type of attacking, aggressive type of defense. Greg Williams is another guy that runs that same philosophy of defense. So yeah, I’ve been fortunate to be a part of some really good coaches and really good teams that have been able to run that style of defense. That’s kind of the philosophy that I take.
Q: Obviously it’s your first big decision that you’ve made since becoming the general manager. How do you feel you’ll be judged by this? And certainly if Dennis is successful, it’ll look favorably upon you or vice versa.
Reggie McKenzie: This is the NFL, guys. You’re judged by wins and losses. That’s how we’re going to be judged. That’s how I’m going to be judged. We win, good decision. We don’t, not so good. That’s how we get…it’s really that simple.
Q: Reggie being a former linebacker and Coach being a defensive-minded coach, what do you both see in
Dennis Allen: I see a talented football player. I see a very talented football player. I think just like a lot of things that we’ve talked about already, we’ve got to do our best to make sure we get Rolando to play to the best of his ability on every single snap and that’s what the goal of any football coach is, is to try to develop and get the best out of their players. That’s what we’re going to do and that’s what we’re going to strive to do with Rolando. He is a very talented player and he can make an impact on this defense.
Reggie McKenzie: I’m not going to reiterate what Coach said. The guy has talent, hands down. I’m looking forward to getting him in here and watching him go through the offseason and into preseason. Not just him, all these guys. I’m looking forward to meeting these players and getting to know them, getting a good feel for them and seeing how they’re going to fit into Coach Allen’s scheme.
Q: You said you want an aggressive, up-tempo offense. Is there an offensive system in the league that you admire or that you’d like to emulate? And number two, you mentioned you don’t want to put any boundaries on yourself, I’m wondering at what point in your career you thought, ‘I can be a head coach?’ And how many times have you interviewed for a head coaching job?
Dennis Allen: There’s a lot of great offenses in the National Football League that I’ve watched over the years so to say there is just one that I’m really looking at and, ‘God, that’s what I wish we could be.’ Again the exact scheme that you run is not as important to me as I want to be a team that can…the more you can substitute, the more you can show them different formations, the more you can show them different shifts, and still at the end of the day be able to run a lot of the same plays and make it simple for your players, that’s what’s critical. Obviously, I will point out one that was extremely impressive to watch because I was on the team and that was the New Orleans Saints and they did an outstanding job. And that’s exactly what they did as far as the up-tempo offense. On your second question on being a head coach, well, repeat the question so I make sure I answer it the way you want me to.
Q: At what point in your life did you think, ‘I could be a head coach?’ And I’m also curious how many times you’ve interviewed to be a head coach.
Dennis Allen: Well, I had two interviews to be a head coach this year. I interviewed with the St. Louis Rams and obviously The Oakland Raiders.
Q: Before this year?
Dennis Allen: No other opportunities before this year. I think I knew at a young age, I did know at a young age, that I wanted to be a football coach. It’s interesting as you go along. When I was in junior high, I wanted to be a junior high coach. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a high school coach. When I was in college, I wanted to be college coach. In the pros, I wanted to be a pro coach. So I think with every step that I took, I gained a little bit more confidence and a little bit more foresight to say that maybe this next step is the next step for me. So exactly when that was, I don’t know exactly when that was, but I was excited that I got the opportunity to interview with Reggie and I was excited that he felt confident enough in me in naming me the next head coach.
Q: Reggie, you mentioned last press conference that Dennis was going to pick his own coaching staff and that was something that was important to you that the coach picks his own staff. I was curious if you could break down for us sort of the structure between you and him. Will you basically bring in the talent and he’ll coach the team on the field, do practice schedules and all that? What parts will you have say in? Which parts will he have say in?
Reggie McKenzie: This is a team effort. When we go about getting players, working on getting the staff in here, how we’re going to do things on the football side, we’re going to do this thing together. It’s not, ‘I’ve got this, you’ve got this.’ We’re not doing it like that. The right hand will know what the left hand is doing. We’re in this thing together.