ALAMEDA -- Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie praised new coach Dennis Allen Monday, indicating that the former Broncos coordinator "exceeded expectations" during the interview process.
But even before they met to discuss the job, McKenzie admitted that he was leaning toward the 39-year-old Allen -- the NFL's youngest coach.
"I targeted coach Allen ... from the start, " McKenzie said.
The former Los Angeles Raiders linebacker and longtime Green Bay personnel executive said that after interviewing Allen he made two phone calls to communicate how positive he was about Allen as a candidate.
"To say I was excited after the interview with Coach Allen would be a major understatement," McKenzie said. "I was extremely excited after this interview. After the interview I quickly called two people -- that was Mark Davis and my wife. They could feel the excitement I had. ... I'm looking for a guy that can lead these men -- that was passionate about the game, passionate about teaching and passionate about the Oakland Raiders.
"Not only did Dennis Allen do that for me he exceeded those expectations."
McKenzie said that he'd targeted Allen as a top candidate to replace the fired Hue Jackson -- despite the fact that Allen had never been a head coach at any level -- based on the 39-year-old's rapid ascent in the coaching ranks.
"Researching Coach Allen, to follow where he came from, and 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. They won the Super Bowl with Dennis as the secondary coach. And what he did in Denver to turn that defense around, it made me take notice.
"So the more I researched, the more I talked to different people, I couldn't get a bad word from anyone about Coach Dennis Allen. So he was on my list, and I needed to see for myself, who this coach Dennis Allen was. When I did, everything was good."