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Allen sees Raiders' defense lacking leader

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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By Dan Parr

The Raiders’ defense has shown improvement in recent weeks, but it remains one of the lowest-ranked units in the league, which is part of the reason that first-year head coach Dennis Allen has taken so much heat this season.

Allen — a former defensive assistant — is the Raiders’ first head coach with a background in defense since John Madden retired in 1979, and improvement on that side of the ball was expected this season. Yet, no team has had more points scored on it than the Raiders (402).

His leadership has been questioned this season, but Allen turned the tables this week when he was asked about the quarterback of his defense. He mentioned LB Omar Gaither and safeties Matt Giordano and Tyvon Branch as players that have shown some leadership qualities, but as for a quarterback, Allen said the “D” does not have one.

“I don’t know that we have that guy that just steps up and says that, ‘I’m the guy and I’m going to make all the adjustments for you,’” Allen said. “We’re still looking for that.”

For many teams, a middle linebacker plays that role for his defense, and the Raiders drafted Rolando McClain in 2010 to be that type of player, but he and Allen have clashed to the point of a reported heated argument that resulted in a two-game suspension for McClain last month.

It’s possible that McClain and Allen will both be ex-Raiders after the season, but if Allen is back, he and GM Reggie McKenzie will hit the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine looking to find the players that can give the defense the solid foundation it has lacked this year.

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