Now that Jon Gruden finally has accepted an offer to return to the Raiders as their head coach, the focus shifts to who is going to work under him in 2018 and beyond.
For now, it has been reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that Gruden has settled upon Greg Olson as his offensive coordinator, Paul Guenther as his defensive coordinator and Rich Bisaccia as his special teams coordinator.
A little bit of digging shows that Gruden is looking for coaches that he has worked with in the past or that he is familiar with, at least.
Olson, who would replace one-and-done bust Todd Downing, was hired by Gruden as his quarterbacks coach in 2008, Gruden’s final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As an added bonus, Olson was the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2014, when quarterback Derek Carr was a rookie.
Getting Carr back on track is at, or near the top, of Gruden’s to-do list based upon Carr’s disappointing 2017 season. Having Olson on board gives Gruden someone who knows more about Carr than he does and can hit the ground running.
Guenther was with Gruden’s brother, Jay, at the Cincinnati Bengals from 2011-13. He would supplant John Pagano, who took over for Ken Norton Jr. after Jack Del Rio fired Norton Jr. last season 10 games into his third season with the Raiders.
Guenther spent the past four seasons as the Bengals defensive coordinator. Gruden is hoping Guenther can bring to the Raiders some of the success he enjoyed with the Bengals. In 2015, the Bengals allowed an average of 17.4 points per game, second in the league to the Seattle Seahawks’ 17.3. The Raiders allowed 23.3 points per game this season, good for 20th out of 32.
Bisaccia was with Gruden during his entire tenure with the Buccaneers from 2002-08. He has spent the past five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys as their special teams coordinator. He would replace Brad Seely, who was hired by Del Rio in 2015.
Gruden reportedly lost out on Teryl Austin on Monday, with Austin taking Guenther’s old job with the Bengals. That turn of events shouldn’t be seen as a rejection of Gruden and the Raiders. He was being offered an assistant head coach/defensive backs coach job versus a coordinator job with the Bengals.
Gruden shouldn’t have difficulty attracting top-flight coaches, for a multitude of reasons. The Raiders roster is well stocked with talented players, including 2016 NFL Defensive MVP Khalil Mack, wide receiver Amari Cooper, Carr and three of the best interior offensive linemen in Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson and Kelechi Osemele. They are one season removed from posting a 12-4 record. But, perhaps most important, Gruden reportedly received a 10-year contract worth $100 million or more, which signifies that he has job security. That is quite attractive to coaches looking for better situations.