The Las Vegas Raiders made Jon Gruden their head coach in 2018 and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther joined the coaching staff in the same year. In the last three years, Guenther led poor defenses, with the final straw being last week’s embarrassing 44-27 loss to the Indianapolis Colts at home. This happened one week after the 0-11 New York Jets ran the ball all over them. Moreover, they allowed 43 or more points three times in the 2020 season. Thus, it wasn’t surprising to see the Silver and Black part ways with him.
The Raiders have a nice pool of candidates to choose from
Quite simply, the Raiders have invested far too many resources in the defense for it to be as bad as it is. They have used four top 40 picks and brought in many free agents in 2020. Still, they are giving up 384 yards per game and 391 points on the season. Gruden’s next task will be finding someone to take advantage of these resources. These are some names he should ponder.
The Raiders announced Rod Marinelli would be filling in as the interim defensive coordinator, to the surprise of no one. The former head coach and defensive coordinator joined Gruden’s staff in the 2020 offseason after being let go, along with the rest of Jason Garrett’s staff with the Dallas Cowboys.
One of the obvious positives of keeping Marinelli around is his familiarity with the team and staff. With only three weeks left in the season, it’s unlikely we’ll get to see the full extent of Marinelli’s work. A full offseason of coaching and leadership from someone with his pedigree could be great for this young defense.
Since 2015, all Wade Phillips has done is coach two separate defenses to Super Bowls. In his second stint as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, he oversaw the best defense in the league. He carried the team to a 12-4 record despite the offense’s struggles and the revolving door at quarterback. Phillips and his defense played the Carolina Panthers and their number one ranked offense in Super Bowl 50. They held them to just ten points and forced four turnovers in a 24-10 win.
The following season, he signed on to Sean McVay’s staff with the Los Angeles Rams, and in their first season together, they went to a Super Bowl as well. In that championship game, they held Tom Brady and the New England Patriots to just thirteen points. Phillips wants to return to the NFL next season and has an interest in coaching the Raiders’ young defense, per Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Phillip’s first task will be developing young players such as Maurice Hurst, Maxx Crosby, and Damon Arnette. He will also need to put his former Rams players, Lamarcus Joyner and Cory Littleton, back into the roles that made them intriguing free agents. There is also the issue of him traditionally coaching 3-4 defenses. The Raiders have used the traditional 4-3 formation, but it seems likely that someone of Phillips’s stature and defensive knowledge would not come in without a plan to use the talent given to him.
Before the Atlanta Falcons fired him, Dan Quinn was the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator when the ‘Legion of Boom’ was born and brought the Seattle Seahawks to a resounding 43-8 Super Bowl victory over Peyton Manning and his record-setting Denver Broncos offense. If this Las Vegas team hired him, Dan Quinn would be responsible for developing young defensive backs Trayvon Mullen, Damon Arnette, and Johnathan Abram in the same way he worked with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas.
After firing Dan Quinn earlier this year, the Atlanta Falcons promoted then defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to interim head coach. Gruden is already familiar with Morris as he was on his staff with the Buccaneers when they beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl. They also got to experience just how well versed he is on the defensive side of the ball when he and his Falcons squad beat the Raiders 43-6. In that game, they forced the Raiders’ offense into five turnovers in an embarrassing showing for Gruden and his guys.
Morris would be a dream hire for the Raiders. The thing standing in their way is the fact that he is pretty likely to have his interim tag removed and be the Falcons full-time head coach, something he has surely earned.
The Raiders need to get this one right
For the Raiders, this hire is one they can’t afford to mess up. They have an explosive, exciting offense with a quarterback who is playing the best football of his career. The window for them to compete is now and they can not keep allowing abysmal defenses to hold them back. The resources have been spent and the talent is there, it’s time to get it figured out.
You May Also Like: Motley Review Week 14: Philip Rivers is Raiders’ daddy
Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal