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Lowell Cohn: Dennis Allen can't be serious


I mean, lots of people, me included, were saying the Raiders have playoff potential. Well, that's out the window now, out the window and in the gutter after some quarterback named Nick Foles, the backup to Michael Vick, threw seven touchdowns, tying the NFL record, and got a passer rating of, get this. 158.3, which is pure perfection.

Note: If a quarterback wants to throw a perfect game, play the Raiders.

But I am not here to praise Nick Foles. I am here to talk about Dennis Allen who is known as a defensive coach, someone who allegedly imbued his players with the know-how to stop the other guys. Really?

When the teams came out for the second half with the Raiders merely trailing 28-13, the Eagles scored touchdowns in consecutive drives in 46 seconds, then in 51 seconds. I almost hyperventilated from the sheer speed of it all. I bet you did, too. After punting on their next possession, the Eagles scored a touchdown in a minute and 18 seconds, still rapid but slower than the first two drives — maybe they were getting tired from all that running away from Raiders' defenders.

One imagines Allen at halftime making the necessary defensive adjustments and firing up his team. Actually, one does not imagine Allen doing any of that. The second-half results don't indicate fire, not even a puny flame to cook one measly marshmallow.

It's impossible to imagine Allen firing up anyone. He may understand football, but he doesn't seem to understand people, how to reach them, how to motivate them. This motivation stuff is a big part of coaching. I'm just saying.

Afterward, Allen told the media, as he always does, that his team will work hard. Like anyone cares how hard Allen and the Raiders work. Like Allen gets extra points for working hard. Like the Cowboys, Niners, Eagles, Seahawks, Broncos — you name the team — don't work hard. Please.

Allen also said, and I quote, "I think we've all got to understand that in the National Football League you've got to come out and be fully prepared and mentally, physically and spiritually, you know, emotionally ready to play."

The Raiders need to be spiritually ready to play? Maybe they should have offered a human sacrifice at halftime.

Here's another Allen quote — the guy is fascinating. "We also realize we're a better football team than what we displayed out there today," he said.

Earth to Allen. A team never is better than what it displayed "out there." It is nothing more and nothing less than what it displayed out there. What a team displays defines what that team is. And what the Raiders displayed was leaderless confusion.

Allen managed one world-class, blow-the-mind quote which I've saved for last.

"We had a bad day," he explained.

Bad day?

Every reasonable person understands a bad day. A bad day is when you misplace your car keys, run out of ketchup for your cheeseburger, don't have a pair of clean socks for the company Christmas party, leave your ATM card in the ATM machine and it's after hours at the bank, overcook the spaghetti to limp-noodle status, get a flat tire and you don't have a spare, forget your wife's birthday.

What Allen had was not a normal bad day. It was a disaster, an end-of-the-world embarrassment, a judgment on Allen as a coach.

With 24 games under his belt as head coach, Allen is no beginner. Yet his defense put no pressure on what's-his-name Foles — the guy looked like he was on vacation. The Raiders' defense could not compete with the Eagles' offense which, the previous two weeks, had scored three and seven points. The Raiders' defensive backs were more like spectators than participants on long whopping pass completions of 46, 59 and 63 yards. Bombs away.

Rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden, who was atrocious, sat after the game with a towel over his head. He looked like a man hiding from reality. He seemed to be grieving. After a while, he got up and, without uttering a word, left the locker room for the outside world.

And that brings us to Raiders' defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. Tarver got loads of pub leading up to the Eagles game. Writers informed readers how well-liked Tarver is by his players and how improved their play is. He got extra pub because, against the Steelers, he flipped off an official and yelled at him using the magic word.

Fiery guy. Maybe even a genius.

The next time Tarver gives anyone the finger, maybe he should be looking in the mirror.

To summarize: Even though they were at home, the Raiders could not beat a team with a losing record, a worse record than theirs.

Allen got credit for turning around the Raiders' defense and making the defense the Raiders' marquee unit. If he got credit, now he gets the blame. This loss falls squarely on him.

He said, "I've got to do a better job in making sure our team is emotionally, physically, mentally prepared and ready to go."

To which we reply, observing all forms of proper decorum, "Coach, we're supposed to take you seriously?"

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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.