Should Raiders Gamble with Riverboat Ron?

In a move many saw coming, the Carolina Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera. Perhaps future defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders?

Rivera led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance against the Denver Broncos and accumulated an overall postseason record of 3-4. As far as the regular season, Rivera won three NFC South Titles and coached Carolina to a 76-63-1 record in his nine year tenure. Panthers owner David Tepper said the following regarding Rivera’s firing:

“I believe this is the best decision for the long-term success of our team,” Tepper stated: “I have a great deal of respect for Ron and the contributions he has made to this franchise and to this community. I wish him the best. I will immediately begin the search for the next head coach of the Carolina Panthers.”

Related: Is Raiders DC Paul Guenther really that bad?

A Closer Look At Rivera’s Tenure

Carolina may have decided to part ways with Rivera, but it was not for his lack of aptitude to coach the defensive side of the ball. Prior to his head coaching stint with the Panthers, Rivera was a defensive coordinator for both the Bears and Chargers. He started his NFL coaching career as a defensive quality control coach in Chicago for former head coach Dave Wannstedt in 1997. Two years later, he joined Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia and was his linebackers coach for five years before becoming the Bears defensive coordinator.

Rivera’s units in Chicago and San Diego posted solid performance numbers:

As defensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears

  • 2004: 20.7 ppg allowed – 13th best
  • 2005: 12.6 ppg allowed – NFL’s Best Defense
  • 2006: 15.9 ppg allowed – 3rd best

As defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers

  • 2008: 21.7 ppg allowed – 15th best
  • 2009: 20.0 ppg allowed – 11th best
  • 2010: 20.1 ppg allowed – 10th best

As you can see, Rivera has more than proven himself and set the tone as a defensive minded coach in this league. He has led some of the best and most efficient NFL defenses since the 2000.

Why does this matter you ask?

For the past 17 years , the Raiders defense has not remotely come close to being a top 10 unit. Coordinator after coordinator, big play after big play; defensive is a major detriment to this team. In 2019, Oakland is yet again on their way to fielding a bottom five defense in the NFL.

Current defensive coordinator Paul Guenther gave this statement about the defense earlier this season.

“It’s my job to understand how the game is going, but it’s the players’ jobs to stop the offense.”

While this is an objective statement to an extent, it is clear that Raider defenders are confused on to what exactly their job is. The Raiders defense has allowed a league worst 43 touchdowns this year. Also, they are allowing 6.1 yards per offensive play. That merits the second worst among all NFL teams with the 1-12 Cincinnati Bengals leading the way in that department (6.3 yards per offensive play). So to allude that Guenther is fault free of this travesty is naive, and any competent front office would initiate due diligence on an upgrade to the position should the right candidate arise.

Rivera should be a serious candidate based on this footage alone. Disclaimer: There is a lot of cursing in this clip.

Could Raiders Realistically Land Rivera?

Safe to say that Rivera is not cursing for fun, but he is driving a message home. If players had no respect for him or didn’t care, this clip would not exist. He is a leader of men that has proven his worth, value, and commands respect and accountability regardless of the role that he is in. A Raider defense with him and current defensive line coach Brentson Buckner leading the way would be a positive step in the right direction to say the least. Is he worthy to be the head coach of another NFL team? Absolutely. However, do not be surprised at the strings that owner Mark Davis, general manager Mike Mayock, and head coach Jon Gruden are able to pull.

Don’t believe me? Just look a these five events that many did not seen coming coming from the Raiders.

  1. That the Raiders would be moving from Oakland, California to a state of the art facility in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  2. That the Raiders would bring Jon Gruden back into a NFL head coaching position.
  3. That a TV Analyst with no NFL front office experience would become the general manager of the Oakland Raiders.
  4. That Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper would be traded in the same season.
  5. That the pick acquired in the infamous Khalil Mack trade would result in an offensive rookie of the year candidate that has led this offense with a fractured shoulder.

The NFL is a never ending saga, and the Raiders have always been steady in unpredictable moves.

So to say that Riverboat Rivera would never join the Silver and Black as a defensive coordinator with this front office isn’t a wise bet. Nonetheless, if Oakland does decide to bring him in at any capacity with this organization. I guarantee that all in Raider Nation would enjoy the gamble.

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