When Dennis Allen is introduced as the next Raiders coach, he'll make his entrance to the hushed tones of skepticism.
Unlike the signing of Jim Harbaugh last year by the 49ers, which was widely considered a "touchdown" hire, this move falls into the third-and-long category.
The rookie coach either finds a way to convert under pressure, or rookie general manager Reggie McKenzie will be forced to punt.
Punting, in this instance, is as bad as fumbling.
McKenzie, you see, fairly breezed into this massive undertaking, the only person interviewed by neophyte owner Mark Davis. Though Reggie came to Oakland with solid credentials as a personnel evaluator, having been a key member of a fine front office in Green Bay, his résumé as an identifier of executive talent was a blank slate.
The presumption, though, was that during 20 seasons of NFL moving and shaking, he surely had become acquainted with someone he thought would make a fine coach.
That possibility excited the fan base, which for so many years watched Al Davis, Mark's father and the longtime former owner who died in October, make a series of uninspired hires -- from Norv Turner to Art Shell (for a second time) to Lane Kiffin to Tom Cable.
It appeared in Hue Jackson, who succeeded Cable, that Davis finally had found a coach with the goods to energize his offense and resuscitate the franchise. Jackson's Raiders went 8-8 and sold out O.co Coliseum for all eight of their home games for the first time since the team's return to Oakland in 1995.
Though it was too early to draw conclusions, for a variety of reasons, including injuries and Hue's own impetuousness, Jackson might have been onto something.
Whatever it might have been, though, was undermined by a toothless defensive unit coached by a staff hired by Al Davis.
Jackson expressed a desire to assemble his own staff, only to be handed his walking papers by McKenzie.
That alone suggested Reggie either had a candidate he believed was superior or was convinced he could find a better head coach.
This is McKenzie's only chance to make a first impression. Raiders fans, giddy with the idea that someone other than Al Davis was in position to dictate the direction of the franchise, figured Reggie would hire a hot candidate or the kind of brand-name coach that Davis avoided.
Some longed for the improbable second coming of Jon Gruden, which McKenzie shot down with laughter. Others anticipated the hiring of one of two Packers assistants, defensive coordinator Dom Capers, a twice-fired head coach; or linebackers coach Winston Moss, a former Raider who some league insiders don't think is ready to be a coordinator.
Though McKenzie reached out to others, including Marty Mornhinweg (Eagles offensive coordinator), Mike Tice (recently promoted to Bears O.C.), Pete Carmichael Jr. (Saints O.C.) and Todd Bowles (former Miami interim coach), Allen apparently separated himself.
Allen, who spent 2011 as Denver's D.C., has no known previous ties to McKenzie. The G.M. told Comcast SportsNet that he would meet Allen for a second interview Tuesday night in Mobile, Ala., where most NFL coaches and personnel officials have convened for the Senior Bowl.
McKenzie implied that Allen could get the job as early as Wednesday. The interview Tuesday must have gone better than expected.
Allen didn't enter the process with instant name recognition. He was a defensive back at Texas A&M who couldn't cut it in the NFL. He's 39 and four seasons removed from being the assistant defensive-line coach in New Orleans. He's the D.C. for a head coach, John Fox, whose background is defense.
Yet Allen did an impressive job in his one season with the Broncos, coaxing a mixed bag of talent into a solid unit, pushing the team into the playoffs. If few noticed it was because the spotlight in Denver never left a certain quarterback who was trapped in a vortex of national debate.
"He's intense, he's detailed, he knows football, he's a great teacher," Champ Bailey, Denver's veteran cornerback, said of Allen in November. "I like the way he explains things because he makes it to where you can understand what he means.
"He knows exactly how to talk to his players."
Allen could be the next Mike Tomlin, a calculated risk that pays off. He could be the next Raheem Morris, a reach that needed more experience.
Either way, Allen will be perceived as Reggie's guy. And Reggie, having boldly whacked Jackson without so much as a trial season, needs a big play.
Contact Monte Poole at email@example.com.