Just like players, coaches in the NFL have to prove themselves year in, year out. While head man Jon Gruden has the 10-year contract, no one else does. We look at returning coaches and new coaches and what they mean for the Raiders in 2020.
The NFL season is rapidly approaching and training camp is finally underway for the Las Vegas Raiders. For the Raiders there are a plethora of position battles to analyze and break down.
Before we dive into that, let’s take a look at some of the coaching staff entering 2020.
Offense: Keep Things Consistent
Head coach Jon Gruden will be entering the third year of his massive 10-year $100 million contract. Coming off a 4-12 season, the Raiders shocked many as they remained in the playoff discussion for the majority of the season. Going 6-4 through the first 10 games, the Silver and Black were in a great spot.
However, poor second half execution, a lack of depth, and injuries down the stretch plagued the Raiders and they ended with yet another losing record at 7-9. Despite the lackluster finish, a three-win improvement from the season prior is a great sign when considering the plethora of young talent and veteran additions the club has brought in.
Similar to Gruden, offensive coordinator Greg Olson will be in his third year of his second stint in this role. In all reality, this is Gruden’s offensive and everything that stems from it comes from Chucky. Olson might be the coordinator, but Gruden is calling the shots. With what seems to be a put up or shut up year for Derek Carr, a stable coaching staff is a must so don’t expect Gruden or Olson to be going anywhere else anytime soon.
The newest addition to the offensive coaching staff is quality control coach, Austin King.
Most recently King was the offensive coordinator at the University of Dayton, Gruden’s alma mater. The Dayton connection isn’t the only link between these two as King played for Gruden in the NFL as a rookie in 2003 with Tampa Bay. King has been coaching since 2012 and before he was the offensive coordinator for the Flyers, he spent time as the quality control coach for University of Toledo as well as Syracuse. At each coaching stop, King had a part in coaching the offensive line and we would expect that to continue in Las Vegas.
Defense: Change on the Horizon?
Many pundits believe the writing is on the wall when it comes defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. While most believe Guenther’s seat is starting to heat up, it may or may not be. Guenther is a close confidant of Grudens but there are signs Guenther could have increased pressure to perform in 2020 and here’s why.
Last offseason, while the Raiders were featured on the HBO hit series, Hard Knocks, defensive line coach Brenston Buckner quickly became a fan favorite. Buckner brought a sense of toughness and grit that the defensive front was lacking the previous year.
The result of his coaching was a prime reason the Raiders sack totals more than doubled from a lowly 13 in 2018 to 32 in 2019. Even though the plan entering 2020 was to keep the coaching staff intact, the firing of Jason Garrett from the Cowboys opened things up for Gruden to get his guy as Garrett’s subsequent staff was also let go.
Replacing Buckner is long time defensive-minded coach Rod Marinelli. While Marinelli wasn’t the most effective head coach, his track record of positively impacting defensive units speaks for itself. The familiarity between Marinelli and Gruden likely played a crucial factor in this decision. These two go back to their days in Tampa Bay in the early 2000’s. With Marinelli’s guidance along the d-line, the Buccaneers’ fierce front line led by Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice helped ignite a Super Bowl run.
Marinelli is one of the finest defensive coaches in the league and his addition is a huge addition for the Raiders and their young defensive front.
The best-case scenario for the Raiders is that the unit as a whole will improve, given that they ranked 31st in defensive efficiency, per Football Outsiders in 2019. On the flip side, if things begin to falter, it is highly likely the replacement for Guenther is already on the coaching staff.
Turnover is Part of the NFL
While changes on the Las Vegas Raiders coaching staff are far from a certainty, the nature of the league is coaches come and go. Outside of the increased pressure on Guenther, the Raiders and Gruden seem to have dialed in a staff they like moving forward. The consistency and shared vision matter and will be a massive piece of any successful run in 2020.