EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first part in a series that spotlights three Raiders-Broncos matchups to watch Sunday, 1:05 p.m. (CBS) at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Raiders HC Dennis Allen vs. Broncos HC John Fox
Tale of the tape
Allen: Rookie season as NFL head coach, coaching in NFL since 2002, Texas A&M
Fox: Second season in Denver, 11th season overall as NFL head coach, coaching in NFL since 1989, San Diego StateAllen has gone to great lengths this week to diffuse the storyline of his "homecoming" game in the Mile High City. And that's commendable.Still, the Raiders rookie head coach was Fox's defensive coordinator last year and a lot will be made of Allen matching wits with his former mentor.And that's unavoidable. Especially since both are defensive-minded coaches."Its a big game, but we cant get into individualism," Allen insisted. "This is a team game. We've got a challenge to face the Denver Broncos, and were going to come up with a good plan, our players will execute, and were going to go try to win a game."Still, there will at least be a twinge of nostalgia for Allen, the youngest head coach in the NFL who turned 40 on Saturday, when he steps on the field where he helped win a division title, right?"Sure, it will be a different feel," he admitted. "It will be a different feel. But thats another one of those distractions that you cant let take over. Its not about me, its not about Dennis Allen vs. the Denver Broncos. Its about the Oakland Raiders vs. the Denver Broncos. Were going to need a lot more than just me out there to go win a game. So our focus is going to be on our team trying to exploit whatever weaknesses Denver has and eliminate the times that theyre able to exploit whatever vulnerabilities we have."Fox, 57, said it would be "a lot of fun" to match wits with his former charge and had more than an inkling Allen would be a head coach one day.You could tell early on, just in the interview process, that first of all, hes very smart," Fox said. "Second of all, the way he carries himself. Hes a guy with what I call the 'It' factor. So it did not surprise me that people looking for coaches in the league were interested in talking with him. Obviously he and Reggie (McKenzie) hit it off. So it doesnt surprise me at all."I think the world of him and his family. But like all NFL contests, it's very competitive."The lovefest is a two-way street, so to speak, and Allen admired the way in which Fox handled the Tim Tebow situation last year and did not allow it to derail the Broncos from not only from an AFC West championship, but a playoff game victory."He's not afraid to make the tough decisions," Allen said. "He believes in a lot of the same things that I believe in. He's always had a tough, smart, disciplined football team, and I believe in those same things. And he's not afraid to make tough decisions, and as you continue to go on being a head coach you learn that you've got to make a lot of tough decisions in this job."So yeah, Allen sought Fox's counsel when the Raiders job opened up. Fox was the Raiders defensive coordinator in 1994 and 1995. "Absolutely, I talked to him about a lot of different things," Allen said. "And at the end of the day he said, 'Go there and you'll do a great job, and you're ready for the job.'"And I've talked to him since then, and he doesn't give me all he secrets, but yeah, he's helped me out a lot."How much, exactly, might be determined Sunday.