Las Vegas Raiders head coach search: Candidates, rumors and updates

Vincent Frank
NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Las Vegas Raiders
Nov 21, 2021; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis walks the sidelines prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With all due respect to interim Las Vegas Raiders head coach Rich Bisaccia, he’s not going to be the long-term solution. The former special teams coach appears to be in over his head following the shocking Jon Gruden scandal and subsequent resignation earlier in the season.

Las Vegas sits at 6-6 on the campaign and remains alive in the AFC Playoff picture. However, the team has lost four of five and is trending in the wrong direction.

The backdrop here is an owner in Mark Davis who apparently had not started his search for a new head coach as of Week 12. That’s going to change here soon. It’s in this that we look at the Las Vegas Raiders head coach search with top candidates, big time rumors and updates over the next several weeks.

Las Vegas Raiders head coach candidates

las vegas raiders head coach search: dabo swinney
Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

Dabo Swinney, Clemson Tigers: This one comes a bit out of left field. However, the legendary Clemson coach was seen hanging with Mr. Davis ahead of Vegas’ Week 13 loss to the Washington Football Team. Swinney in the past has also noted that he could move on to the NFL once college players get paid. That’s happening with players now earning cash through their name image and likeness. This would be a big-time hire for the Raiders. A potential franchise-altering hire. Whether it is even in the cards remains to be seen.

Nathaniel Hackett, Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator: Dating back to his time under Gruden in Tampa Bay (how ironic), Hackett has been seen as an innovative offensive mind. That included helping Aaron Rodgers earn NFL MVP honors as a second-year offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers in 2020. In his seven seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator, Hackett has led three top-10 scoring units.

Kellen Moore, Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator: Moore, 32, has been seen as somewhat of a wunderkind since his days with Boise State. Never really boasting the physical ability to be an NFL quarterback, he’s taken to coaching and has not looked back. He’s going to be an absolutely hot candidate during this cycle, and will be linked as the possible next Las Vegas Raiders head coach.

Dan Campbell, Iowa State: NFL teams have been trying to pry Campbell away from Iowa State for what seems to be eons. At every turn, the highly-respected college head coach has turned down those opportunities. Whether this remains the case should Las Vegas target him remains to be seen. But Sin City might be an attractive draw.

Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator: With the success the Chiefs have had since drafting Patrick Mahomes, Bieniemy has been on the head coach hiring shortlist, receiving several interviews, but has never been able to land a head coaching gig. Maybe Bieniemy’s waiting for the ideal landing spot. That could very well be the Vegas market while going up against his former team twice a year. Talk about a dramatic lanscape change in the AFC West if this were to come to fruition.

Top attributes for next Las Vegas Raiders head coach

las vegas raiders head coach search
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
  • As you can see above, we’re focusing solely on the offensive side of the ball (at least with NFL candidates). Hence, why current Raiders defensive coordinator Gus Bradley can’t be seen as a legitimate option.
  • For the Raiders, it should be all about finding a balance between proven offensive minds and those who have the upside to grow into a new role.
  • It’s a two-part theory. Either looking at a respected collegiate head coach who can change around the fundamental environment within the organization or someone with professional experience who is attempting to make a name for himself as a head coach.
  • The final point here is important. Vegas can’t go for the retread head coach. Sure Mark Davis would like to bring in a big-name individual. But hiring retreads has proven to be a failure for the organization over the years. From Norv Turner and Art Shell to the aforementioned Gruden, this has been the case on a never-ending loop.

Las Vegas Raiders head coach rumors

“It’s been a month since Jon Gruden resigned as head coach of the Raiders, but league sources said the team has not begun a coaching search and has rebuffed inquiries from many interested parties as owner Mark Davis focuses on trying to reach the playoffs this season,” Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported earlier in December.

There’s really not a lot going on right now. As noted, Davis is more focused on earning a playoff spot. It also must be said that new NFL rules enable teams to interview potential candidates from other NFL squads over the final two weeks of the regular season. That would impact the likes of Hackett, Moore and Bieniemy.

There’s nothing lacking on this front. It’s all about timing and building a list behind the scenes. We’re sure that’s happening within the Raiders’ organization right now.

“Either way, critics shouldn’t read too much into Davis’ disinterest in digging deep into candidates unless he has his sights set on someone who’s available such as Doug Pederson,” our very own Moe Moton noted recently.

We’ll have updates as the Las Vegas Raiders head coach search starts in full bloom within the next month. For now, the expectation is that Davis and Co. will look outside of the organization for a long-term Jon Gruden replacement.