Raiders HC Jon Gruden’s New First Mate: Rod Marinelli

The Las Vegas Raider’s day-and-night defense just parted ways with a day-and-night play-caller, as Jon Gruden finally did what Raider Nation has been hoping for, he fired Paul Guenther. Now, he has a new first mate: Rod Marinelli. We saw it coming, but the nation is concerned about how he may perform. Pump the breaks though, Rod Marinelli is the best defensive coordinator Raiders have had in a while.

Is father time knocking on his door?

Yes, Marinelli is 71 and some fans see that as a problem. Ironically, those same fans want to bring in Wade Phillips, who is two years older. They could go a little younger with well-known defensive coordinators like Mike Smith (61), Rex Ryan (58), or even Vic Fangio (62) if he becomes available. Others are hoping Gruden goes young and brings in Raheem Morris (44).

They should hire a new defensive line coach to learn under Marinelli for a few years. It’s possible that Jon Gruden has him as just a bridge to a young up and coming coach. One thing for sure is that Marinelli is a knowledgeable man. He has been in the game for most of his life spending almost 20 years coaching on the collegiate level and over 20 in the pros.

Related: Replacing Paul Guenther: 4 Options Raiders Must Consider

He’s got a proven track record

Rod Marinelli has a long solid track record. He comes from Tony Dungy’s coaching tree and has spent time with head coaches such as Lovie Smith, Jon Gruden, and Monte Kiffin. Eventually, he got his own stint as a head coach but didn’t have much success. He lead the Detroit Lions through their 0-16 season and was fired, rightfully so.

The following year he took the defensive lines coaching job with the rival Chicago Bears. Later that year Lovie Smith promoted him to defensive coordinator and under those two, the defense went from bottom of the pack to mid and top ten rankings. Following the 2012 season, Lovie Smith was fired and Marinelli declined the Bears offer to stay, leaving for the Dallas Cowboys to be their defensive line coach. The following year, the same pattern occurred, the defensive line wasn’t great, and he got promoted. Once again, he moved the defense from last in the league to the middle of the pack and saw consecutive top ten rankings.

I’m sensing a trend… and I’m not the only one seeing it.


Bonus DC: Rod Marinelli should get other personnel involved in playcalling too. That will help elevate the team.

Final thoughts- The Raiders’ new first mate will bring the D

Marinelli served under Gruden during his Tampa days and Gruden should keep him as long as he’s running the show and as long as he wants to stay. Marinelli will be defensive coordinator going into 2021. To put my money where my mouth is, I will give out a free plaque to the first person that calls me out on this thread if he is not.

Watch for more changes in the offseason. He should bring in his guys. The top guy that stands out is his son-in-law Joe Berry, who is an assistant with Los Angeles Rams now. He should be able to get the defense over the hump and playing consistently. He will play to their strengths, and scheme around them, not force them into his.

One fun fact about Marinelli is that he wrestled a bear in his high school days. Granted, that was almost 60 years ago but it’s funny. The defense will respect a guy that wrestled a bear, it’s what they do weekly, he may have some techniques. The Raiders’ defense should be fine under Marinelli, and big changes should come right away. Watch how the players react Thursday, it should be more interesting given the short week.

You May Also Like: West Virginia S Tykee Smith Could Elevate Raiders Pass Defense

Top Photo: Las Vegas Raiders official website

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