Apparently, Raiders head coaches should always watch their backs after Week 4 of an NFL season. Just as Al Davis fired Mike Shanahan after four games in 1989 and Lane Kiffin after four games in 2008, his son, current owner Mark Davis, and general manager Reggie McKenzie fired head coach Dennis Allen after four games in the 2014 season.
The Raiders haven't won in their last 10 games and have scored just 51 points, the worst figure in the NFL, and have amassed an 8-28 record during Allen's tenure. He was hired to replace Hue Jackson after Jackson had just one season in Oakland. Tom Cable, who replaced Kiffin, was let go following the 2011 season.
A reporter for The Associated Press had erroneously tweeted and later retracted that Allen had been fired Sunday, after the team's trip to London and subsequent 38-14 thrashing at the hands of the Miami Dolphins. But according to FOX Sports' Jay Glazer, the decision to let Allen go was actually made official when the Raiders "just called" Allen and gave him the news.
It's expected that assistant head coach Tony Sparano or offensive coordinator Greg Olson will take Allen's place, at least in the interim. The Raiders will have a press conference Tuesday morning.
Allen was a defensive assistant for the Falcons from 2002 through 2005, and the Saints' assistant defensive line coach in 2006 and 2007, and secondary coach from 2008 through 2010. He was Denver's defensive coordinator in 2011, and the Raiders hired him from that spot in early 2012.
Allen had no head coaching experience, but it's difficult to know how well he would have done in a more stable situation. The Raiders have had 10 coaches over the last 20 years, and just three winning seasons. McKenzie got some traction for a while in asking fans for patience after Al Davis' death in 2011, but since he took over personnel duties in 2012, there hasn't been much to talk about. Before the 2014 season, the Raiders lost their two best players -- offensive tackle Jared Veldheer and defensive lineman LaMarr Houston -- to free agency, despite the fact that the team had more than $60 million left under the salary cap. McKenzie intimated that neither player wanted to play for the Raiders, and given the franchise's dysfunction over the last decade, it's easy to understand why that might be the case.
McKenzie responded to those defections by signing a number of defensive veterans, taking a chance on former Buccaneers left tackle Donald Penn, and rolling the dice on former Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. But after a lot of talk about building from within over time, McKenzie looked as reactive and desperate as Al Davis once had. And though rookie quarterback Derek Carr has shown potential, McKenzie's drafts have been underwhelming, as well.
Dennis Allen is a quality assistant coach. He'll get another shot at that level. Whether he ever gets another chance as a head coach is to be decided, but most people in the league understand that it's hard to evaluate the performance of any coach in the current Oakland situation.