Former Raiders OC Knapp lands in Denver

January 18, 2013, 6:15 pm
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Former two-time Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, who was fired the day after Oakland's season finale loss at San Diego that dropped the Raiders to 4-12, will stay in the AFC West.

Knapp has been hired by Denver to be the Broncos' quarterbacks coach and work with reigning All-Pro Peyton Manning.

And for as vilified by Raiders fans as Knapp was this past season--the offense often times slowed to a halt behind his play-calling--he is thought of highly in league circles as a position coach. Otherwise, he would not continue to receive job opportunities.

Plus, while Raiders fans essentially blamed Knapp for the offense's struggles by changing it, he was hired by then-rookie coach Dennis Allen to switch the offense from a power-blocking scheme to a West Coast Offense with a zone-blocking scheme.

The drop was as precipitous as the learning curve was steep -- the offense fell from No. 9 overall in 2011 to No. 18 last season, while the running game's free fall went from No. 7 to No. 28. The passing offense, though, improved from No. 11 to No. 8.

Darren McFadden missed four games due to injury -- again -- but it was not the injury bug that limited him; it was the offense. A year after looking like a league MVP candidate at the season's midway point, when he was averaging a career-best 5.4 yards per carry, McFadden averaged a career-low 3.3 yards whenever he carried the ball.

Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie would not go as far as blaming the system.

"That's what I'm saying…looking for plays that fit the players," McKenzie said in a sit-down with reporters on Thursday. "And it's obvious that Darren is much better on certain types of plays. That goes without saying. That's how you've got to do it. When you talk about being productive, when you talk about offensively moving the ball, scoring points, getting some plays out of your big-play guys, you've got to find ways to let him do what he does best. We didn't. We didn't do that."

Then why did McFadden struggle so much?

"I'm not an offensive guru, but I do know when Darren is running certain plays, it's pretty doggone good, and…he had some last year," McKenzie said. "But when you talk about a scheme, he's not a lateral mover. He's not one of those guys. As soon as he can go north and south, that's when he's at his best."

Knapp, meanwhile, seems to have fallen forward, while the Raiders' search for an O.C. to replace him continues.

“Greg is a proven, experienced coach with a very impressive background working with quarterbacks,” Denver coach John Fox told “He’s had success with Pro Bowlers and established players while also being instrumental in the development of younger quarterbacks. I’ve coached against him for a number of years and have a lot of respect for him. We are pleased to add someone of his caliber to our coaching staff."

Knapp replaces Adam Gase, who was promoted to offensive coordinator to replace Mike McCoy, after McCoy left to become the San Diego Chargers' head coach.