The Raiders surprised the fan base when it was reported on Tuesday that they were firing defensive line coach Brenston Buckner. He was one of the only coaches on the defensive staff whose unit saw strong improvement. Unfortunately, Jon Gruden saw a familiar face in Rod Marinelli land on the open market and he had to sacrifice Buckner to get him. The recently fired coach had a chance to talk to The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and revealed what Gruden told him.
“He told me, ‘I need to make a change. I need to make room for someone, it was nothing you did,’” Buckner said. “And I thanked him for the opportunity.”
Gruden won a Super Bowl in Tampa Bay with Marinelli playing a key role in the defensive coaching staff. The Raider head coach like familiar faces and that pretty much meant the end for Buckner. Regardless, he’s taking the decision in stride.
“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.”
Buckner Talks Young Players
One thing that Buckner should get a lot of credit for is how he helped develop the many young pieces on the Raiders defensive line. Don’t be mistaken, he played a large role in helping develop Maxx Crosby into a young sack artist and getting veterans like Benson Mayowa to have their best seasons yet.
“It was fun, like being an artist working with a blank canvas,” Buckner said. “And watching them soak it all in and growing. Maxx was a skinny kid from Eastern Michigan and he worked hard, and now he is a double-digit sack guy. There aren’t too many of those.
“Cle 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.”
Marinelli is a very well-respected defensive mind, but he’ll be 71 when the seasons starts. However, his defenses while he coached the Dallas Cowboys have consistently been solid. The likely reason Gruden traded Buckner for him his because he has the potential to take over as the team’s defensive coordinator if Paul Guenther continues to struggle.
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Buckner Was a Raiders Fan Growing Up
The saddest thing about Buckner getting fired by the team is that he was finally coaching the team he grew up a fan of.
“It hurts a little,” Buckner said, “but I got to spend a year with these players and the best fan base in the league, so it’s a great tradeoff.
He can find some solace knowing that he was able to coach at the Oakland Coliseum for the last season ever.
“Warming up my guys in front of the Black Hole before games was like something out of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.”
Though it’s a disappointment that the Raiders couldn’t figure out a way to land Marinelli and keep Buckner, there’s little doubt the coach will land on his feet.