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Oakland Raiders make Tony Sparano interim coach after firing Dennis Allen

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ALAMEDA, California — The Oakland Raiders promoted offensive line coach Tony Sparano to interim coach on Tuesday, a day after firing head coach Dennis Allen.

General manager Reggie McKenzie announced the move to Sparano after cutting ties to Allen four games into his third season as coach.

Sparano had a 29-32 record as head coach in Miami from 2008-11. He took over a one-win team in 2008 and led the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and an AFC East title. That was his only winning season and he was fired with three games remaining in 2011.

Sparano has been offensive line coach the past two seasons in Oakland.

"Tony Sparano has a strong presence in this organization," McKenzie said. "His experience and leadership qualities will serve the team well in helping reach the goal of everyone here, which is to win football games."

Sparano becomes Oakland's eighth coach in the past 12 seasons. The Raiders have not made the playoffs or had a winning record since winning the 2002 AFC championship.

The Raiders are off this week after losing 38-14 to Miami in London on Sunday for their 10th straight loss dating to last season. Oakland next plays at home against San Diego on Oct. 12.

Allen was the first head coach hired by Oakland after Al Davis' death in October 2011. His 8-28 record is the worst for the franchise since before Davis arrived in 1963. His contract was set to run through next season.

"After thorough evaluation, we have determined to move in another direction," McKenzie said. "We appreciate Dennis Allen's dedication to the organization and wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future."

Allen is the third coach fired during the season by Oakland since Davis arrived. Mike Shanahan was fired after four games in 1989 and Lane Kiffin was let go four games into the 2008 season.

The Raiders have had 11 straight seasons without a winning record or a playoff berth. Oakland will now have its eighth coach since 2003.

Allen and McKenzie were hired after the team finished 8-8 under coach Hue Jackson in 2011, falling one game short of a playoff bid.

PHOTO: Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen answers a reporter's question during a media conference following a training session at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, England, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. The Raiders will play the Miami Dolphins in an NFL football game at London's Wembley Stadium on Sunday Sept. 28.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Oakland Raiders head coach Dennis Allen answers a reporter's question during a media conference following a training session at Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, England, Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. The Raiders will play the Miami Dolphins in an NFL football game at London's Wembley Stadium on Sunday Sept. 28.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

They were expected to steady a franchise that ran into disrepair during Davis' final years as owner. Instead, the team has only gotten worse.

The two were hamstrung their first two seasons by a lack of premium draft picks and a difficult salary-cap situation due to bad contracts handed out by Davis.

But after spending their first two years tearing down the team, owner Mark Davis expected the Raiders to be much more competitive this season after having ample salary cap room in the offseason and a near-full complement of draft picks.

Instead, the Raiders have looked overmatched at times. They fell behind 27-0 after three quarters of their only home game against Houston and trailed by 31 points after three quarters against the Dolphins.

In all, Allen had more losses by at least 20 points (nine) than wins. It was performances like those that Mark Davis said he no longer wanted to see in Allen's third season and that ultimately led to his downfall.

Allen was a former defensive coordinator in Denver who was expected to modernize a defense that ran what were considered outdated schemes under Al Davis' watch.

The defense, instead, has gotten worse. Allen has overseen two of the three highest-scoring seasons by opponents in franchise history. The Raiders have yielded 27.8 points per game since the start of the 2012 season, allowing opponents to complete 67.6 percent of their passes with a 101.6 passer rating.

With Allen out, the pressure is now on McKenzie, who has two seasons left on his contract. McKenzie's first two draft classes have had almost no impact, with the biggest disappointment being 2013 first-round cornerback DJ Hayden, who has struggled with injuries. Hayden was exposed in eight games as a rookie and hasn't played at all this season because of a foot injury.

This year's draft class appears to be much stronger, led by first-round linebacker Khalil Mack and second-round quarterback Derek Carr. But whether that will be enough for McKenzie to keep his job remains to be seen.

McKenzie also has botched two offseason trades for quarterbacks, with Matt Flynn in 2013 and Matt Schaub this year failing to win starting jobs after being acquired to start.


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Photo Gallery:
PHOTO: FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2013, file photo, Oakland Raiders assistant head coach Tony Sparano calls to his team during an NFL preseason football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. The Raiders promoted offensive line coach Sparano to interim coach on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, a day after firing head coach Dennis Allen. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File)
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