The Las Vegas Raiders are in turmoil, but finally able to turn the corner. Jon Gruden resigned on Monday night following five days of tumult, which reached a crescendo shortly before Monday Night Football when the New York Times released another report of misogynistic, racist and homophobic emails sent by Gruden to Bruce Allen, at the time a member of the Washington front office.
Raiders fans are ready to move past this shameful era. Gruden’s resignation was unquestionably needed as it grew clear he was losing the locker room, but it’s still unneeded instability at a time the team had finally become poised to compete. It’s unclear if Las Vegas can get things back on track this season with interim coach Rich Bisaccia, but it’s extremely likely Las Vegas will hire a new coach in the offseason.
Who should the Raiders look at? Well, this is a case where the boring choices are the right one.
Phil Snow, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator
Snow, who has extensive NFL and college experience, has been attached to Matt Rhule’s hip since the pair worked together at Temple in 2013. A highly regarded defensive coordinator, Snow added an edge to a Carolina defense this season that lacked a lot of star power.
Don’t let Carolina’s recent struggles fool you. This is a team with an elite defense, and an offense that has evaporated thanks to Christian McCaffrey’s injury, paired with a non-existent offensive line. Snow has proven he can bolster a defense and lead a team, which is precisely what the Raiders need.
Las Vegas has one of the best offenses in the NFL, and an extremely poor defense. Snow will add the stability the team needs to move on from Gruden and turn the page.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator
This marks the third year in which people are wondering how the hell Bieniemy doesn’t have a head coaching job. Interviewing for most openings over the past two years, the offensive coordinator is responsible for turning the Chiefs into a juggernaut.
Sure, there are reports Bieniemy doesn’t interview well — but who cares? The man is one of the most gifted offensive minds the league has seen in the last decade. This would be a hire that could bolster the Raiders’ already good offense into the stratosphere, and if he can find a good defensive mind for the other side of the ball, could lead to something special.
It’s ridiculous Bieniemy doesn’t have a job yet, and extensive experience with an in-division rival is just the icing on the cake. This makes a ton of sense.
Don Martindale, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator
Martindale is another coach, who like Phil Snow, would help revitalize the Raiders defense. There’s also a nice edge here with Martindale being the Raiders’ linebackers coach from 2004-08, and we know Mark Davis loves to bring people back into the fold.
The Ravens aren’t the defensive juggernaut they’ve been in the past, but in a lot of ways this is because they’re still revamping their secondary and transitioning out of losing numerous defensive legends in the last several years.
It’s a hire that wouldn’t move the needle, but gosh — I think the Raiders could use some boring stability.
Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator
Already one of the hottest commodities on the market, Daboll elected to stay with the Bills one more year in pursuit of a Super Bowl. Widely credited for developing an offense that allowed Josh Allen to shine, Daboll comes from the Bill Belichick coaching tree, but unlike other past failures, it seems he’s better suited to pivot that other coaches leaving the Patriots.
There will be considerable competition for Daboll’s services in the offseason, and it’s highly likely there will be a long wait, if the Bills make the deep postseason run most expect. It remains to be seen if the Raiders front office and ownership are okay potentially waiting a while to get a coach.
Keith Butler, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator
A defensive mind since 1990, Butler was the heir apparent to Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh, and that’s a hell of an endorsement.
It’s unclear if Butler would be open to leaving Pittsburgh after waiting so long to take over, but we’re reaching a pivot point where wholesale change could be happening with the Steelers. That could lead to Butler jumping ship early, especially if it’s for a head coaching job.
This is another hire that could easily be characterized as “boring,” which tends to happen when there’s a defensive mind taking over — but that can often lead to success.
Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss head coach
I hate it. It’s bad. Everyone is talking about it, so we have to as well. Bringing Kiffin back to the Raiders is the most painfully obvious “typical Raiders” move, and I think it would be disastrous.
Don’t get me wrong, Kiffin has grown a TON as a coach since his first NFL stint, which was an abject disaster, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right move for the Raiders now. Kiffin would be a big, splashy, headline-making hire — and the team needs to be quiet, put their heads down, and work on getting better.
If the team wants to have an offensive mind at the helm I think there are far better NFL options available, without diving into college ranks.