Former Standout Raiders Coach Lands With Cardinals

jon gruden

Getty Oakland Raiders head coach Jon Gruden.

The Las Vegas Raiders turned many heads when they decided to fire defensive line coach Brenston Buckner. While the team still struggled on defense in 2019, compared to 2018, the Raider defensive line looked much better. Buckner played a large role in helping develop the many young pieces on the defensive line and that’s why it was so surprising when the team fired him.

Fortunately for the promising young coach, it didn’t take long for him to find another gig. Buckner announced on Twitter that he’s heading to the Arizona Cardinals and it’s assumed he’s going there as a defensive line coach, though the team has yet to confirm it.

This is a homecoming for Buckner as he spent four years as the defensive line coach for Arizona from 2013 to 2017. He has a promising career ahead of him and could land a defensive coordinator gig down the road.

Buckner Would Still Be With Raiders If Marinelli Wasn’t Available

The Raiders liked Buckner, but unfortunately for him, one of Jon Gruden’s favorite coaches, Rod Marinelli, became available. Gruden loves coaches he has a history with, so it wasn’t a hard decision for the coach to make.

“He told me, ‘I need to make a change. I need to make room for someone, it was nothing you did,’” Buckner said, per Vic Tafur of The Athletic. “And I thanked him for the opportunity.” 

Buckner grew up a Raiders fans, so it wasn’t an easy pill to swallow, but he can take solace in the fact that he didn’t get fired for his performance.

“The history is there,” Buckner said. “Marinelli is a great coach, one that I have learned from watching his teams in the past… I didn’t get fired because of the job I did, so I can’t argue with that.”

Marinelli spent the last several years as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. They consistently had a strong defense under him, so the Raiders could’ve wanted to add him as a backup plan in case Paul Guenther continues to struggle.

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Time With Raiders Made Buckner a Better Coach

Buckner had a lot of youth to work with during his brief stint with the Raiders and even though he is gone, he deserves a lot of credit for their development.

“[Clelin Ferrell] had a lot of pressure on him, but he worked thought it. He was a big part of our improvement, though I know some people didn’t see that. All the guys came together, Mo [Hurst], Hank [Johnathan Hankins] and P.J. [Hall] inside, Arden [Key] before he got hurt, [Josh] Mauro and [Dion] Jordan and Benson [Mayowa] had a career-high in sacks.

“It was great for me to work with those guys. It made me a better coach.”

Buckner set the stage for Marinelli, so it’s up to the veteran coach to get them to the next level. If they don’t, fans are going to raise some questions as to why Gruden replaced Buckner with him.

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