Las Vegas Raiders Report’s Hayden Nadolny explores Jon Gruden‘s latest coaching hires in the second part of his ongoing series, including the controversial return of Tom Cable.
Singleton has a decade of experience as a running backs coach, with 2018 to be his third year of coaching at the pro level. His past two years as running backs coach for the Indianapolis Colts are difficult to evaluate in large part due to the Colts poor offensive line. Under Singleton, rookie Marlon Mack showed a lot of promise. If Marshawn Lynch remains on the Oakland roster, Singleton will need to get the most out of the aging Beast Mode, just as he has with old timer Frank Gore, who in 2017 still made over 1,000 all-purpose yards on offense.
Bennett has spent his entire coaching career with the Green Bay Packers, the past 3 years as offensive coordinator. Prior to that, he was the Packers running back coach from 2005-2010 and then the wide receivers coach from 2011-2014. He was actually on the playing roster of the Packers when head coach Jon Gruden was a coach in Green Bay from 1992-1994. During his time as a WR coach, Bennett oversaw both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have career best seasons. Given Gruden’s likelihood to base the Raider offense on West Coast principles, catching the ball is going to be even more paramount. Bennett’s primary task will be to find some invisible Stick ‘Em for Amari Cooper’s hands. Or, he could just teach him to catch the ball…
Berbenich has spent 15 years coaching in the NFL, including three years under Gruden (2006-2008). Berbenich’s roles have varied over the years but have primarily remained at the level of a quality control or an assistant positional coach. His familiarity with Gruden will certainly help for a seamless process, as Berbenich will no doubt be spending time into the early hours of the morning putting the requisite film cut ups together for the coaches to review come the morning.
2018 will be Holz’s eighth season as a coach with the Raiders. Like Berbenich, he has spent time in various roles at the assistant positional coach/quality control level. Holz was well regarded by the previous regime and is one of two assistants carried over from Jack Del Rio’s staff.
Smith is an under the radar hire. He has 13 years of coaching experience, and at been coaching at the pro level since 2010. His last role saw him as the Chicago Bears tight end coach from 2015-2017. During this time, journeyman tight end Zach Miller achieved career best numbers in 2016 despite playing just 10 games during that season. Rejuvenating Clive Walford and improving Jared Cook’s blocking will really open up opportunities for tight ends in Gruden’s offense.
There has been a large panic regarding the Raiders’ perceived lack of success with a zone blocking scheme in 2017, and that has merit. This is largely due to the fact that the primary staple run for a large part of the year was the outside zone concept.
Cable’s hiring is by far the most polarizing on the entire staff. In large part, this is due to fans and media “experts” misinterpreting the facts. For instance, Cable is said to be a zone blocking scheme purist, yet in both 2009 and 2010, Cable implemented power/angle blocking concepts into the Raiders’ offense. There has been a large panic regarding the Raiders’ perceived lack of success with a zone blocking scheme in 2017, and that has merit. This is largely due to the fact that the primary staple run for a large part of the year was the outside zone concept. The Raiders simply do not have the linemen to run outside zone as a primary staple of the offense, and if Cable elects to go down that road, it will be one leading to failure. However, when the Raiders’ offense was humming in 2016, one of its staple runs was inside zone. Hence, if Cable installs a mix of inside zone, pin and pull, and duo concepts, the Raiders’ running game is going to be fine.
Of note, Vic Tafur of The Athletic mentioned in The Athletic’s Third and Twenty Podcast that Cable was not hired specifically to implement a specific scheme (as many fans and “experts” predicted), but rather, because Gruden thinks he’s a good coach. The development of the running game’s blocking scheme is sure going to be one of the most interesting storylines of the off-season and training camp.
Update – Brian Callahan
Per Albert Breer, Brian Callahan has been hired by Jon Gruden as QBs coach. Callahan most recently spent the past two years working in Detroit with Matthew Stafford. Under Callahan, Stafford was a MVP candidate in 2016 (along with the Raiders’ own Derek Carr), and threw for 29 TDs and a career high 99.3 QB rating in 2017. Prior to his stint in Detroit, Callahan spent 6 season with the Denver Broncos in various offensive roles, including assistant QBs coach in Peyton Manning’s final season. Callahan is well regarded around the league and was interviewed by both the Jets and the Titans for their offensive coordinator vacancies. Between Gruden, Olson and Callahan, Derek Carr has all the personnel resources he will need to return and even improve on his 2016 form.
Callahan is the son of current Redskins’ offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who worked under Jon Gruden in Oakland prior to succeeding him as Head Coach of the Raiders when Chucky was traded in February 2002.
NOTE: This is the second in a series of articles from Nadolny on the Raiders new coaching staff. Look for more in the coming days here on Las Vegas Raiders Report.