Raiders Possible Defensive Coordinator Candidates

The Las Vegas Raiders and Jon Gruden are going to be on the hunt for a new defensive coordinator, Sports Illustrated's Raider Maven list several candidates

When Coach Jon Gruden of the Las Vegas Raiders relieved Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther of his duties a week ago and promoted Defensive Line Coach Rod Marinelli on an interim basis, there was immediate speculation about who might get the job if Marinelli doesn’t stay on next season.

And Marinelli’s future is in question after rookie quarterback Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers torched the Raiders secondary in a 30-27 overtime victory on Thursday night.

Sources said almost immediately after Guenther was cut loose that Wade Phillips, who has coached for 44 years but is currently out of a job, is interested in the Raiders.

“I never realized there were so many Raider fans on Twitter–very impressive,” Phillips posted on Twitter, although he didn’t say much more this time.

However, earlier this season, Phillips said in a post: “I find myself pulling for the offense so maybe someone will need a defensive coach!”

The Spun said on its website that Phillips is the best candidate for the job.

Phillips, the 73-year-old son of the late, great NFL head coach Bum Phillips, was head coach of the Denver Broncos in 1993-94, the Buffalo Bills (1998-2000) and the Dallas Cowboys (2007-10) and has been the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, the Broncos, the Bills, the Atlanta Falcons, the San Diego Chargers, the Houston Texans and the Los Angeles Rams.

In addition, Phillips was interim head coach of the Saints (1985), the Falcons (2003), and the Texans (2013).

Phillips has an 82-64 record in the NFL as a head coach, interim and otherwise, and was defensive coordinator of the Broncos when then they defeated the Carolina Panthers, 24-10, in Super Bowl 50 to cap the 2015 season.

In his last three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams from 2016-19, the Rams won NFC West division titles in 2017 and 2018 and advanced to Super Bowl LII after the 2018 season before losing to the New England Patriots, 13-3, when Phillips’ defense kept Tom Brady out of the end zone until the fourth quarter.

Try to find a better resume than that.

Well, another person mentioned who has no coaching resume at all, is legendary Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson, whose name has been floated about for the position as Raiders DC.

Woodson, 44, who seems to be headed for Pro Football Hall of Fame after a brilliant career with the Raiders and Green Bay Packers, didn’t exactly say he is a candidate despite many saying he could be the man for the job.

“I appreciate you all for thinking I’d be a great coach, but I’ve never cut my teeth in the business of coaching, or have I even considered coaching,” Woodson said. “There are far more qualified than me. (General Manager Mike) Mayock/Gru will find the right person.”

However, Woodson did not exactly say that person isn’t him.

The Raiders (7-6) have been torched at times on defense this season, particularly in the last five weeks by the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-31, the Atlanta Falcons, 43-6, even in a 31-28 victory over the winless New York Jets, by the Indianapolis Colts, 44-27, and then by the Chargers.

Many people around the NFL believe the Raiders have accumulated plenty of talent on defense the last couple of years by signing free agent defensive backs Cory Littleton, Lamarcus Joyner, and Nevin Lawson, linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, defensive end Carl Nassib, safeties Jeff Heath and Erik Harris, and defensive tackles Maliek Collins and Johnathan Hankins.

In addition, the Raiders have drafted cornerbacks Damon Arnette, Trayvon Mullen, and Amik Robertson, defensive ends Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby, safety Johnathan Abram and linebacker Tanner Muse.

There has been speculation that the Raiders defense has not come together as hoped for this season because of the Coronavirus pandemic, which prevented rookie camps, off-season mini-camps, preseason games and led to a training camp unlike those in previous years.

Not to mention that the Raiders' defense has been hampered by injuries and players placed on the Covid-19 inactive list.

Others named as possibilities to coach the Raiders defense next season include Raheem Morris, interim coach if the Atlanta Falcons, who coached under Gruden in Tampa Bay before becoming a head coach when Gruden left in 2009; former Detroit Lions head coach and New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia; former Cowboys defensive coordinator Kris Richard; Rams linebackers coach Joe Barry; Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley; Kris Richard, former Dallas Cowboys DC, and Rex Ryan, son of legendary NFL DC Buddy Ryan, who was head coach of the Jets (2009-14) and Bills (2015-16), after being the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens (1999-2008).

Gruden will call on Marinelli, or one of the others, to blend all that talent into a great Raiders defense in 2021.

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