NFL roundup: Allen fired, Chiefs win, Orton to start
Alameda, Calif. — The Oakland Raiders fired coach Dennis Allen on Monday night four games into his third season.
The decision was announced soon after the Raiders (0-4) returned from London, where they lost their 10th straight game dating to last season, 34-14 to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The firing was first reported by Fox Sports.
Allen was the first head coach hired by Oakland after the death of longtime owner Al Davis. 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.
An announcement on the interim coach will come Tuesday, with offensive line coach Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Greg Olson the most likely options.
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 general manager Reggie McKenzie were hired after the team finished 8-8 under coach Hue Jackson in 2011, falling one game short of a playoff bid.
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 Davis said he no longer wanted to see in Allen's third season and 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was a former defensive coordinator in Denver who was expected to modernize a defense that ran what were considered outdated schemes under Al Davis' watch.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 now turns to 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 has not 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.
Monday night football
(At) Kansas City 41, New England 14: Jamaal Charles returned from an injury to score three touchdowns, Tom Brady was picked off twice and the Chiefs handed Bill Belichick one of his worst losses as coach of the Patriots. Charles, who missed last week's win in Miami with a sprained ankle, ran for 92 yards and a score. He also caught two short TD passes from Alex Smith, who finished with 248 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
The Chiefs (2-2) ended a four-game skid at Arrowhead Stadium by handing the Patriots (2-2) their worst loss since they lost to San Diego 41-17 in 2005.
Along with throwing two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, Brady was strip-sacked by Tamba Hali to step up a field goal. Brady finished 14 of 23 for 159 yards.
Orton to start against Lions
EJ Manuel is out as the Bills starting quarterback, and Kyle Orton is in.
Coach Doug Marrone's benched Manuel on Monday, one day after he completed less than half his passes and threw two interceptions in a loss to the Texans last weekend.
Orton will start Sunday's game against the Lions at Ford Field. The Bills signed Orton on Aug. 30 to back up Manuel.
"It's not all EJ's fault," Marrone said, "but we need to get better production, obviously, out of that position.
Manuel started 14 games the past two seasons.
Marrone had previously said he wanted to be patient with Manuel's development.
Orton, a nine-year NFL veteran, spent the past two seasons in Dallas before being cut by the Cowboys in mid-July after he skipped the team's offseason workouts amid reports he was considering retirement.
Orton has a 35-35 career record split among four teams since being selected by Chicago in the fourth round in 2005. He has been a starter with every team he has joined, as well as a backup, and spent two years behind Tony Romo in Dallas.
"This decision was based on what's giving us the best opportunity to win," Marrone said. "I believe that we have a playoff-caliber team. I think that we have to play better than we did the last two weeks, though."
Jim Harbaugh has no time for Deion Sanders, Trent Dilfer or others who want to question whether the fourth-year coach has lost his locker room or the faith of his players.
Last weekend on NFL Network, Sanders said of 49ers players: "They want him out. They're not on the same page."
Harbaugh responded by saying: "Personally I think that's a bunch of crap. People say what they say."
Analyst Dilfer offered on ESPN Radio: "I do think it's become almost toxic."
Harbaugh dismissed that, too, by saying, "I haven't seen Trent or Deion around much."
... Colts safety LaRon Landry has been suspended four games without pay for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing substance policy.
... Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer has been formally charged with assaulting his wife in two arguments in July at their Phoenix apartment.
... An autopsy performed a year after Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his baby's mother and himself found he sustained the same kind of brain damage that has turned up in other NFL players.
The sprained left ankle for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is not serious, and the Vikings are hopeful he'll play Sunday against the Packers.
... Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne will have season-ending surgery after tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee.