Raiders fire Knapp, three other coaches

December 31, 2012, 11:30 am
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ALAMEDA -- Raiders coach Dennis Allen made official Monday what had been speculated upon for weeks -- he fired offensive coordinator Greg Knapp.

In the wake of a disappointing 4-12 season after consecutive 8-8 finishes with explosive offenses, Oakland's offense regressed significantly in 2012 under Knapp, who was hired by Allen to bring in his brand of West Coast Offense and zone-blocking scheme.

Also let go were offensive line coach Frank Pollack, special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman and linebackers coach Johnny Holland.

"Obviously, this has been a tough morning," Allen said in his end-of-year media conference Monday. "There were some things that I had to do from the standpoint of the coaching staff that I felt like was best for this organization. Sometimes you have to make business decisions."

It would appear as though the Raiders are scrapping the ZBS with the firings.

"Listen, I believe the zone scheme running scheme is a productive running scheme," Allen said. "Obviously, we didn’t have the success that we needed to have and there were a lot of factors that contributed into that. I’m not tied to a specific system. I’m tied to trying to find out what our players can do really well and try to put them in those positions to give them a chance to have success.

"I’m looking for production and execution, and I think that’s where we have to be better."

Potential candidates to replace Knapp would seemingly include offense-minded head coaches who were fired Monday in Norv Turner, Ken Whisenhunt and Pat Schurmer. Al Saunders, who was the Raiders' offensive coordinator in 2011, was on staff this past season as the team's senior offensive assistant.

And while Allen said throughout the season he believed in the scheme, it was obvious from the start it was a bad fit for the personnel on the roster. A year ago, the Raiders had the No. 7-ranked rushing offense in the NFL at 131.9 yards per game, even with Darren McFadden missing the last nine games. This season, with a healthy McFadden at the start of the year, the Raiders had the No. 28-ranked running attack at 88.8 yards per game, though McFadden missed four games.

McFadden's production trailed off dramatically. A year after averaging a career-high 5.4 yards per carry, he averaged a career-low 3.3 yards per carry in rushing for 707 yards on 216 carries. Take away his season-long 64-yard touchdown run against Pittsburgh, and McFadden averaged less than three yards a rush.

"I think what happened is you realize that it wasn’t working," Allen said. "We weren’t getting the production that we needed to and I felt like we needed to make a change.

In training camp, Knapp referred to the new offense in Oakland as a "start up company" with so many new and moving parts. And after taking a lot of criticism following a 0-2 start, Knapp urged calm.

"Let’s keep things in perspective for a second here," Knapp said on Sept. 20. "We’ve played two games in the regular season on offense. We’ve had two different centers and a right tackle who played half a game last week. We need some patience."

Patience, apparently, wore thin.