The media this week has been focusing on how big the Las Vegas Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers game is for quarterback Derek Carr, which is an exciting topic to discuss. But this game is equally as big for interim coach Rich Bisaccia.
If you listen to ESPN or Fox Sports, the national media scene is putting a lot of emphasis on the Raiders vs. Chargers Sunday Night Football game as the most important game of Carr’s career. While this may be true, this game is also a defining moment for Bisaccia. He started his coaching career with Jon Gruden in Tampa, which wasn’t a bad start as he quickly grew into his role and his special teams unit helped the Buccaneers win a Super Bowl. Bisaccia has been coaching special teams since 2010, and he returned to Gruden in 2018 as assistant head coach/special teams coordinator.
Taking over for Gruden
Bisaccia was named the interim head coach after Gruden resigned, and while he always dreamt of being a head coach, this was not exactly the way he intended it to happen. Bisaccia took over after a Week 5 loss to the Chicago Bears and since has led the team to a 6-5 record, all the while dealing with Henry Ruggs’ arrest, Damon Arnette’s release, and now Nate Hobbs’ troubles. See a theme here?
Bisaccia has had to deal with more drama and inter-squad issues as an interim head coach than many seasoned coaches have had to deal with in multiple seasons. While the team has not exactly performed to standard, Bisaccia has led the team to a “winner takes all” showdown on Sunday Night Football against the Los Angeles Chargers.
This game is a winner-takes-all scenario in more ways than just one. If the Raiders win against the Chargers on Sunday, they will undoubtedly punch their ticket to the playoffs for the first time since 2016. And if the Raiders win, they will undoubtedly punch Rich Bisaccia’s ticket to having the interim tag removed from his title.
Rumors are swirling…
While Bisaccia is trying to prepare his team for the slugfest we are all anxiously awaiting, social media and sports news outlets are scurrying with rumors and news about head coaching options for the Raiders, specifically an NFL return by Jim Harbaugh, currently coach of the Michigan Wolverines. This is just another outside distraction Bisaccia will have to put to the side, which is something you could say he has mastered at this point. At least a struggling Raiders team has been able to focus on getting to a point where they are competitive, especially after beating a very strong Indianapolis Colts squad on their home turf.
Can the Raiders pull it off?
This Sunday is going to be a defining moment for Carr. That much is certain, but this game means a lot for Bisaccia’s future as well. If victory is achieved, both Carr and Bisaccia may see themselves sticking around in Vegas for an extended period of time. If the Raiders lose to the Chargers and the postseason slips out of reach, Bisaccia may find himself conducting a press conference the same way Jack Del Rio did in 2017, announcing his own termination, which was also after a loss to the Chargers in the last game of the season. For Bisaccia’s sake, let’s hope the Raiders pull this one out.
*Top Photo: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal