With the Raiders having a new general manager and new head coach with no head coaching experience, it has been difficult to gauge how the Raiders' coaching staff would look when it takes shape. But top candidates have now emerged for both the offensive and defensive coordinator positions.
The top candidate as it appears at this time for the offensive coordinator spot is Al Saunders. The Raiders had a resurgence on offense last season with Saunders as the offensive coordinator and having him back would keep some continuity despite the firing of Hue Jackson as head coach.
Several of the Raiders' coaching staff have been at the Senior Bowl practices this week but only Saunders was there wearing Raiders gear representing the team. He is one of the most experienced offensive coordinators in the NFL and that experience would be of considerable assistance to Dennis Allen who not only is a first time head coach but is from the defensive side of the ball.
The most recent candidate to emerge for defensive coordinator is Kansas City Chiefs' secondary coach Emmitt Thomas. He was mentioned shortly after Allen was hired as a possibility based on the fact that the two worked together in Atlanta when Allen got his first NFL coaching job. At the time, Thomas was the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach, and Allen was a defensive assistant specializing in the secondary.
When the idea first came up, it was simply connecting the dots because they worked together, but Friday it was confirmed by Alex Marvez of Fox Sports that Thomas is indeed in the mix for the position. The hiring would make a considerable amount of sense for the Raiders.
Thomas has spent the past two seasons as the Chiefs' defensive backs coach. The season he arrived in Kansas City, the Chiefs defense jumped from the 30th ranked in the NFL to 11th and maintained that solid ranking last season.
Thomas, like Saunders, is a longtime NFL mind. He has been an NFL coach for over thirty years. He has also been a defensive coordinator for three different teams (Eagles, Packers, Vikings) from 1995-2001. On top of that, he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008 as a player.
UPDATE: Just hours after confirming Emmitt Thomas was "in the mix" for the Raiders DC position, Alex Marvez confirmed that Thomas is "OUT of the mix." BUT, as things often go, another candidate has come to light. Another defensive coach who has ties with Dennis Allen is the Saints defensive line coach Bill Johnson. He now becomes the top candidate for the position. Though being "in the mix" is not confirmed, the connection between the two is undeniable.
Bill Johnson and Dennis Allen have spent nearly their entire coaching careers together. They coached together at Texas A&M in the late nineties, then Johnson came to the Falcons in 2001 and Allen joined him the following season. They also coached together in New Orleans during Johnson's first two seasons as the Saints defensive line coach.
Johnson has a long history of developing defensive line talent in his 11 years as an NFL coach.
In Johnson's fourth year as an NFL coach with the Falcons, Atlanta reached the NFC Championship Game with the defensive line leading the NFL in sacks (48) for the first time in franchise history. The Falcons also ranked eighth in the NFL in run defense, Patrick Kerney had a career-high 13 sacks and Rod Coleman led all defensive tackles with 11.5.
Coleman was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2005, and his 28 sacks from 2004-06 were the most by a defensive tackle in the NFL over that span. Kerney was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2004, and the defensive end had 53 sacks under Johnson's tutelage from 2001-06, notching at least 10 sacks in three seasons.
During his tenure as defensive line coach with Atlanta from 2001-06, the team twice ranked in the top 10 in fewest yards allowed and fewest yards per carry (2004, 2006).
During his two seasons with the Broncos, he coached a unit that in 2007 tied for second in the NFL with nine takeaways, combining for seven fumble recoveries and two interceptions. That season, DE Elvis Dumervil tied for sixth in the league with 12.5 sacks.
The line thrived under Johnson in 2009. Defensive end Will Smith finished fifth in the NFL with a career-high 13 sacks. The defense finished second in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage (39.3). In 2010, the Saints defense improved from 25th in the NFL to 4th in yardage allowed.
Reports say that the Raiders would not officially announce Dennis Allen as the team's head coach until he has a staff put together. The team has scheduled the press conference to announce him for next Monday, January 30 at noon. So it is possible we could know by then which candidates will indeed be on staff.
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Hopefully Allen will keep Saunders as his offensive coordinator, as the Raider offense is definitely going to need continuity, as Levi pointed out, and that continuity will be very important to Carson Palmer. I am not too worried about who comes in as the Defensive Coordinator, as Allen is a defensive specialist and he will most certainly make a good hire. Offense is my biggest concern with the guy.
It will be interesting to see what direction the Raiders go before the draft. I could see some possible trades in order to move up to the second or late first round. I wouldn't be surprised if DHB was shopped around, as his improved play could make him worth a second round pick, at least, and with the stockpile of good young receivers the Raiders have, losing DHB would not be as catastrophic as some people might think...... The question of Keeping Michael Bush will have to be addressed, as he will be very expensive to resign. If the Raiders decide on keeping him, then don't be surprised if DMAC goes on the trading block as well. DMAC would certainly warrant a first round pick, and this new coaching staff and management may want to begin their imprint on the draft sooner instead of later.
I don't think McFadden will be traded. As talented as he is and as much of a game breaker as he is, his injuries will really limit what teams would offer for him so I just don't think he will have enough value as trade bait. If he could return anything higher than a third round pick I would be surprised and I would hate to see him traded for less than a first.
McFadden's injury issues will definitely hurt him in trade value, no question. I still think there could be a team like New England, who has (2) late first round picks that might make a run for him if the Raiders did try to trade him. I know this sounds crazy talking about a McFadden trade, but the Raiders will be facing the reality that they might be losing their most reliable running back to free agency (Michael Bush), and he is going to be very expensive to resign. I know that Tom Cable would love to bring him up to Seattle, and would spend whatever it takes to get him....... Trading McFadden would give the Raiders a lot more money to sign Bush, who I think is one of the Raiders' most valuable players and is a key to our continued offensive success...
@nilbymouth I don't like Tolbert. I can see Ray Rice being too expensive as I can see him getting a deal like 5 years for 60M plus. I think Lynch sign a deal more along the lines of 5 years for 40M plus. Lynch is not in the same league as Ray Rice is.
@Spartacus If I was going to trade DMac, I'd sign a RB that could carry the load in his place. Bush would not be that RB. He is purely a complementary RB, nothing more, nothing less. If he is going to get greedy and demand starter money, then good-bye. To me, he is not a starter as he wears down pretty easily and he doesn't have the game-breaking moves. He is purely a North-South RB when you need to get those tough yards.
If I was going to trade DMac, I would sign Marshawn Lynch or Ray Rice, if that was possibility. I would not fork the money over to Bush and make him my starter. No way.
trading dmac would be one of the dumbest things we could do. remember a certain db who couldn't stay healthy here, left here via free agency cause us fans were upset he couldn't stay healthy, he was a huge part of a turnaround on defense for a team that went on to win the superbowl and he also won defensive mvp and has stamped himself into the hall of fame when his career is over? i dont hear no ram fans saying cut sam bradford and he was a number one pick and has missed alot of time with injurys, including last year the same injury as mcfadden. it sucks, but you cant get rid of your best weapon. i like marshawn lynch, but doesn't it strike anyone why he was ran out out of buffalo. and i dont wanna hear cause of fred jackson beat him out. bringing him back home to cali might be a big mistake, but it would excite the crowd cause he plays like a beast, but can he keep his head on straight. i really dont know if we can afford to franchise bush unless its with the understanding to buy more time to get a long term deal. interesting times in oakland for sure.
I don't think Bush will be worth keeping unless we can pick him up cheap. As much as I like the guy he will probably get starter money from someone else and I think his production can be easily replaced with another big bruising RB drafted in the later rounds. I then think more of a two back approach needs to be used more so hopefully we can have McFadden around for longer. McFadden should really be getting no more than 15 carries and 2-3 catches a game.
1. Ed Donatell, the Niners secondary coach, is reportedly in the mix for DC as well as Donkeys LBer coach, Richard Smith. Both Smith and Donatell have previous DC experience. I think that I'd like Donatell best of the three.
2. I am seriously thinking that trading DMac may be the best way to get the best picks for this upcoming draft. There is a FA RB that I think that we could easily sign to replace DMac. That RB is Marshawn Lynch. He played his collegiate football at Cal and he was born and raised in Oakland. Not to mention that he is durable and is still pretty young at 25, he will be 26 in April.
@JarrodRollins It was Bill Williamson who reported that and he didn't say they were "in the mix" which suggests he knows the Raiders have interest. He simply has them among coaches who the Raiders COULD be interested in based on various factors. But at this point, they are as strong a possibility as most.
@JoshMcDaniels2 As was I. However, when Allen was named the head coach, I didn't think there was much of a chance of Del Rio anymore. Young, first time head coach doens't mesh well with a guy who just came off 8 seasons as a head coach. Del Rio went to the only place he could go. He has worked under John Fox before so there would be no friction there.
@raidercrazee Sucks indeed... and yet... I still have lots of hope that good old Jack and his huge ego make that defense implode. I mean, he's a great defensive mind, no doubts, but he's also the guy who drafted blaine gabbert with his first round pick... that dude thinks too much of himself and I hopr the donkeys choke on this hiring
It has also been rumored that the Chiefs may have denied Thomas the chance to interview for the DC position here. I thought if it was a promotion they couldn't do this though so not sure how accurate that report was...
@nilbymouth@raidercrazee nibly, I have not heard anything definitive. My initial feeling was that the Raiders were interested but Thomas declined. He did, afterall, spend his entire playing career with the Chiefs. He may be happy to stick there. Romeo Crennel is reported to be taking the DC duties as well as HC so Thomas likely has a role very similar to a DC if the team actually had one.
i think we need to clean house wiyh platers also. get rid of schilens, murphy, and other injury prone players. we need to build a team that can take hits and give em.
@raidercrazee Schilens and Murphy are good solid back ups, not sure if Schilens wants to stick around with all this talent. The offense should be left alone other than upgrade a couple of line positions
its nice to see change, but getting rid of hue i hate to see. keeping saunders is great, dont know about the def cord. from kc, but he cant be worst than breshnehan. i understand that if they kept hue there would be two oc. what does everyone think about who dc and oc should be?
I really hope Saunders is kept as it seems most people do. I heard about Emmit Thomas rumored as the DC as soon as Allen was rumored to have got the HC job. His experience would be priceless, not to mention taking another Division rival coach also makes it a double blow. He could even help lure Brandon Carr to the Silver and Black.
@nilbymouth Wouldn't have been too bad, Carr has flashed big time!
On the other side, Bill Johnson could potentially help land Tracy Porter (who imo has shown better bump man skills) and Carl Nicks (who Saints can't afford to retain) - there's Colston too, but i don't think he would be a realistic target.
Porter and Nicks would be great additions imo - both have plenty years left and would fit what we desperately need! Nicks would definately be a solidifying element on the interior of the Oline, and would greatly improve the quality!
@Harder2000 Niners secondary coach becoming our DC could help us land CB Carlos Rogers, who had six picks this past season. He isn't as injury prone as Porter is, but he is going to be 31 when the season starts. Porter is 25 and I think he would be a nice pick up. Richard Marshall is a very under-rated CB, imo. He had signed a 1-year deal with the Cards last offseason. He was forced to play CB and FS after Kerry Rhodes got hurt. Reportedly, the Cards have him as a close second to Calais Campbell in terms of re-signing priority. He is 27 as well.
@nilbymouth Marshall would be the cheapest option of the three, I believe. he is only two years older than Porter and is more durable. I admit that I am a bit of a homer and that I'd love to see another Fresno State guy playing for Oakland. Hopefully with a lot more success than Sam Williams did.
Marshall would be a good signing but i think really depends entirely on what happens with Huff. If Huff moves to CB, then safety is going to be a need. Either keeping Branch at SS or moving him to FS and signing / drafting a new SS. This is entirely on presuming Branch stays which I damn well hope so!
If Huff stays at FS I would hope Branch would be re-signed at SS meaning CB will be a need and I not sure we can get a good quality CB in the later rounds of the draft so a Free Agent may be needed.
Carlos Rogers was good this season but he has been nothing better than average for most of the rest of his career. Not to mention his age. I think he will finish out his career as a 49er.
@Harder2000@nilbymouth If Huff stays at CB(like he should have done a long time ago) .. we don't need another high priced CB ... same with Nicks... our OL wasn't the problem outside of run blocking up the middle ... Nicks will cost too much. we need a re-shaped front seven in order to solve the run stopping issue. that's where the big money should go once Seymour, Routt, and Wimbley restructure.
I agree. The OL played as good as they could this year with the limited talent they have in Carlisle, Barnes and Satele because of very good OL coaching. These three have reached as good as they are going to be from what I can tell and that is to be average starters / decent backups. All they are really doing is hold Veldheer and Wiz back. Adding Nicks to one of the guard positions, drafting a decent RT then have Campbell, Heyer and Barksdale battle it out for the other guard position.
Porter will not be highpriced, but as @nilbymouth said, he definately has shown some inconsistencies this year!
Regarding Nikcs a i really don't agree @DARKKUSH ! You say yourself that we had issues with runblocking up the middle ... Nicks would give that on side of top flight pass blocking! He is young (26), enormous (6'5", 343) and a bonafide probowler who makes everyone around him better, and really has the ability to solidify a line! He has the versatility to play virtually all spots, and he could instantanously greatly improve the line at either RG or LG (with Wiz Jr moving to C).
Our line was not as great as it looked on paper (5th in sacks), especially after D-Mac went down! The line did an admireable job through the season, but they faltered when they faced premium defenses, and we especially had tremendous issues with runblocking down the stretch (partially because Bush could not run on the outside).
I'm not saying that our Oline is horrible, as it was coached up nicely imo, but Carlisle, Barnes and Satele all has limited talent in the scheme we run, and when you get the chance to replace one of those with one of the best players in the game (at his position) without breaking the bank (Gs are cheap), you do it imo!
@DARKKUSH Dude, you'd rather go with Satele at Center and Carlisle at RG than pay for Nicks. No, thank you. Gimme Nicks now, move Wiz Kid to C, and maybe play Heyer at RG and Campbell at RT or vice versa?
Nicks I would love to see. Porter is up and down CB so I'm a little iffy on but he is definitely an upgrade over who is on the team anyway! I believe Allen was the DB coach when Porter was drafted also.