Dennis Allen wasn’t Derek Carr’s head coach for long. There was a draft phone call, an offseason program, a preseason and four meaningful games before Allen got the axe.
That’s about it, roughly five months in sum. Not much fun in that run, though, Allen made one decision as Raiders head coach Carr won’t forget. He named the rookie starting quarterback for his first real game as a pro. Allen had an underwhelming veteran in former Pro Bowler Matt Schaub, but went with the young gun.
“I’ve expressed it to him, how thankful I am that he not only gave me a chance to play in the NFL but gave me a chance to start and had trust in me to do that,” Carr said. “For that, I appreciate him very much, but I don’t think we’re going to be rooting for each other this week. Anytime but this week, I think the world of him.”
They certainly won’t. Carr and Allen will be on opposite sidelines during the Raiders regular-season opener at New Orleans. Carr has the same title. Allen’s now Saints defensive coordinator.
That makes them sworn enemies Sunday morning, with one trying to outplay, outwit, outlast the other. There’s a base of knowledge that could help becoming lone survivor.
Allen is extremely familiar with Carr’s tendencies. The quarterback as evolved since his rookie year. He’s a far more polished passer and decision maker, working with a different scheme.
Carr knows Allen’s defense well, especially his blitz and coverage preferences.
“You try and remember things, but two years it a long time. He knows that we were all around each other for a long time.
“It’s a big chess game. It really is. You just go out there, you know your rules, you know what the coaches are telling you and you just try and perform to what your coaches are telling you to the best of your abilities.”
It’s no secret Allen and Carr know each other well, so minds will worry about the unexpected.
“He’s obviously going to bring some exotic stuff,” Carr said. “You try and prepare for things that maybe he hasn’t even shown. I know him; he loves his defense. It’s his baby. I know that he’ll try and maybe do some unscouted looks. You never know so you have to prepare for everything, while at the same time just preparing your normal way throughout the week.”
It might be tough for Allen to prepare without emotion creeping in. This should be a big deal for the Raiders head coach from 2012 through early 2014. New looks are natural in a season opener, following a preseason using vanilla plays to create mystery heading into games that actually count.
Saints head coach Sean Payton downplayed the matchup as expected, saying tendencies will be taken from game tape over personal history.
“I think that would be very overrated,” Payton said. “I think hopefully we know Derek based on all the film study and all the games, just like they would know (Saints quarterback Drew Brees). When you get the whole season in its entirety and the preseason, you’re able to see strengths and weaknesses. You’re able to see his arm strength, decision making, his ability to run. You’re able to see a lot of those things. I don’t think that (history) factors in, really. At times, personnel overall might when you’re dealing with an entire roster, but I don’t think specifically, especially at starting quarterback.”