Out with the old, in with the old? The Raiders have locked in their 10th straight season without a winning record, but it looks as though they will try something new this offseason. After firing head coaches Tom Cable and Hue Jackson the past two years after 8-8 seasons, Oakland looks as though it will retain Dennis Allen.
"It would be huge to not have a new coach come in again," right tackle Khalif Barnes said. "You want some familiarity and solidarity going into training camp, and not have to learn something new all over again."
Allen, in his first year, has led the Raiders to a 4-11 record going into Sunday's season finale in San Diego. First-year general manager Reggie McKenzie said he was "pleased" with the job Allen has done the last time he talked to reporters a month ago and cited salary-cap issues and a lack of draft picks as major obstacles this season.
Late owner Al Davis had a short fuse and didn't get along with Cable. Jackson was let go when McKenzie came in at the start of the year.
Davis' son, Mark, the new boss, is trying to take a longer view than his father. He and McKenzie gave Allen a four-year deal, and while Davis is disappointed in the team's record, he is resisting pulling the plug.
Players thought they were going to turn the corner with Cable and then Jackson, and some see similarities between those two and Allen. All hope is not lost.
"All three were good leaders," Barnes said. "They were all the same that way, even though they had different personalities and a different way of doing things. Regardless of how the season went, they all handled it well."
Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey said it's obvious that players are still playing hard for Allen, just as they were for Cable and Jackson at the end.
"Their styles were different, but all three wanted the same thing, for guys to compete, to give effort," Heyward-Bey said. "Each year ended with things going in the right direction, and the coaches were let go for whatever reasons.
"This year, we had some injuries that messed us up, especially in the return game and then Darren (McFadden) went down for a little bit. This team has talent. We just have to execute better on both sides of the ball."
Barnes said one of the reasons players have handled the coaching changes well and are positive about the future is the great chemistry on the team.
"I love everybody in the locker room, and we all get along great," Barnes said. "We haven't gotten the results we wanted on Sundays, but that's not from a lack of hard work."
The one improvement Allen can hang his visor on is in penalties. Oakland set a record for most penalties with 163 last year. This season the Raiders have only 99 and are on pace for 106.
"He's done a good job with the penalties, making sure we're focused on being disciplined," Heyward-Bey said. "He's kept us aware of what's going on game in and game out, preparing us for our opponents very well."
Heyward-Bey agrees that bringing back Allen would be a nice change of pace for the Raiders going into next season.
"It would be nice to have the same coach back for a second year," Heyward-Bey said. "I know Mark Davis is committed to winning, and he's going to make the right decision."
Allen is confident that there will be more wins next season.
"There's been a lot of change," he said. "When there is a lot of change, sometimes you don't get the results that you're looking for right away. But when you believe in something, and you stick to it and you know it's the right plan, it ends up working out."
The 6-9 Chargers, meanwhile, are not going to stick it out and are expected to fire general manager A.J. Smith and coach Norv Turner after the season.
San Diego is set to finish with its worst record since going 4-12 in 2003.