The current rumor surrounding the Oakland Raiders is a potential mega coaching/partnership agreement between owner Mark Davis and Jon Gruden.
It was less than a week ago that Gruden was rumored to be returning to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, Dirk Koetter has been assured another season. An NFL off-season doesn’t seem complete without at least a few Gruden coaching rumors, and we’ve had more than a few and the offseason hasn’t even begun.
Aside from the financial component and Gruden rumors aside, Del Rio is deserving of another year. He’s only a year removed from going 12-4 and while he deserves a fair amount of the blame for this disappointing campaign, he certainly doesn’t deserve all of it. It’s fitting that Del Rio has a career record of 93-93 going into Sunday’s finale because he’s about a middle of the road head coach. Much has been made of Del Rio setting the record of coaching the most games without a division title but I wouldn’t make too much of that when you spend the majority of your coaching career in the same division as Peyton Manning.
Conventional wisdom, however, will most likely not get you past the Patriots whose run of dominance seems never-ending. There is nothing more critical to the Raider organization than reconstructing Derek Carr who in one year went from an elite young quarterback to assuming the role of Captain Checkdown.
Enter Jim Bob Cooter
Enter Jim Bob Cooter, 33, into the picture who started the 2014 season as the Lions quarterback coach and was promoted to offensive coordinator in the middle of the 2015 season. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has no doubt evolved into an elite NFL QB under the tutelage of Cooter. Stafford has gone from a yardage happy quarterback to one with more efficiency and fewer turnovers.
In a copycat league, the hunt is on to find the “next Sean McVay,” head coach of the Rams and a good bet to win Coach of the Year. McVay’s work with young quarterback Jared Goff this season is borderline miraculous. Cooter may not be Mcvay but the launch point with Carr is light years ahead of what it was with Goff. The mind meld of young offensive head coach and quarterback will be an idea stirring in the minds of what could be as many as 10 front offices looking for their next head coach. Cooter will be on the short list of at least a few of them.
Cooter would need the experienced defensive coordinator which Mcvay has in Wade Phillips, the difference being that guy is already in place for him. It would be an easy sell to all parties to keep John Pagano on as defensive coordinator. He is likely not a head coaching candidate and will have full autonomy to continue the maturation of the much improved Oakland defense under his oversight.
By NFL standards Del Rio deserves another season but the primary focus has to be Carr and making decisions that benefit him the most.