ALAMEDA — Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen made the first hire for his new staff on Wednesday, bringing back Greg Knapp as the team's offensive coordinator.
Knapp spent the past two seasons as quarterbacks coach in Houston but was coordinator in Oakland under Lane Kiffin and Tom Cable in 2007-08.
Knapp has 17 years of experience as an NFL assistant, including stints as a coordinator in San Francisco, Atlanta, Oakland and Seattle. He helped the Texans make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in 2011 despite losing starting quarterback Matt Schaub to a season-ending foot injury after 10 games.
Backup Matt Leinart also got hurt and Knapp groomed rookie T.J. Yates, who helped the Texans beat Cincinnati in the first round of the playoffs before Houston was eliminated by Baltimore.
Knapp had been on a staff with Allen in Atlanta. With Allen having never coached offense and having no previous head coaching experience, his hiring of coordinators is a crucial step in his success.
Knapp's first stint in Oakland did not go well as he had little talent to work with offensively. The Raiders had a revolving door at quarterback his first season with Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper and JaMarcus Russell all getting starts. Russell was the main quarterback in Knapp's second year and never developed into the player the Raiders envisioned when they selected him first overall in the 2007 draft.
Knapp did not call plays at all his first season with the Raiders and then was given the duty in 2008 shortly before Kiffin was fired four games into the season. Cable later took away the play-calling duties from Knapp that season and he left to go to Seattle in 2009.
While most of the key offensive players in Oakland have not worked with Knapp, including quarterback Carson Palmer, he did have running backs Michael Bush and Darren McFadden in his second season with the Raiders.
The decision to hire Knapp likely means the end of Al Saunders' tenure with the Raiders. Saunders was the only assistant from last year's staff still under contract but Allen decided to go a different direction.
General manager Reggie McKenzie said earlier this week that Allen might want to keep a few of the holdover assistants. FoxSports.com has reported that Kelly Skipper, who has coached both running backs and tight ends for the Raiders, will remain on staff. Fox also reported that former San Diego and San Francisco defensive coordinator Greg Manusky has interviewed with Allen for a job.
Special teams coach John Fassel, defensive line coach Mike Waufle, receivers coach Sanjay Lal and tight ends coach Adam Henry have found other jobs already.