Raiders Surprisingly Fire DL Coach, Replace Him With Former Cowboys Coach

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Getty Oakland Raiders HC Jon Gruden.

The Raiders have made their first big surprising move of the offseason as it is being reported by Jim Trotter that they have decided to fire defensive line coach Brenston Buckner. In his first year with the team, the defensive line improved in a number of areas. As Trotter points out, the unit went from 13 sacks in 2018 to 31 in 2019 and greatly improved in the run game.

Buckner should get a lot of credit for Maxx Crosby developing into one of the most productive young pass rushers in the NFL and veteran Benson Mayowa had his best year as a pro. Trotter reports that Rod Marinelli is set to be the replacement. He’s long been considered one of the top defensive minds in the NFL and was once the head coach for the Detroit Lions.

Marinelli has been the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys since 2014. It seems like he’s likely taking the demotion due to the fact that there are a number of coaching changes taking place in Dallas currently.

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Did Buckner Deserve to Get Fired?

It seems like Buckner getting fired has more to do with Marinelli becoming available than it does with the performance of his defensive line. Like previously mentioned, the defensive line was much improved in 2019. For all the Raiders’ problems on defense, it wasn’t only the defensive line’s fault.

This move probably won’t go over very well in the team’s locker room. Buckner was well-liked and was instrumental in helping a lot of young players develop. There has to be more to the story because moving on from Buckner right now doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense. Despite the surprising move, Buckner was all class and thanked the Raiders for the opportunity.

Rod Marinelli Isn’t a Bad Pickup

Now, before Raider fans get upset about Buckner getting fired, it’s important to look at what Marinelli brings. In the last three seasons as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, they have finished the season with a top-10 defense. It’s not a secret that Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has struggled since taking over the defense. If the team decides to let him go after another rough start, Marinelli would be as ready as anybody to take over.

However, if the Raiders aren’t confident in Guenther, they should’ve fired him and brought in Marinelli as the defensive coordinator. Nobody would’ve had a problem with that move, but they decided to fire a promising young coach and have Marinelli do a job he’s overqualified for.

Regardless, it’s the move the team made and the players are going to have to live with it. One big concern is that since Marinelli took over as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, they haven’t been among the best in the NFL in getting to the quarterback. In fact, they haven’t cracked the top-10 once despite always being loaded with talent. The decision to replace Buckner with Marinelli will be questioned, but it’s going to take some games to know if it was the right call.

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