AFC West Rival Poaches Top Raiders Offensive Assistant Coach: Report

jon gruden

Getty Las Vegas Raiders HC Jon Gruden.

The Las Vegas Raiders‘ coaching staff is going to look pretty different on both sides of the ball. The defensive coaching staff is getting a major facelift after a bad season but the team was likely hoping to keep the offensive staff intact. Unfortunately, they’ve lost a key member.

According to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, new Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is hiring Raiders’ tight ends coach Frank Smith.

The Athletic’s Vic Tafur added that Smith will be the Chargers’ run-game coordinator.

This is certainly a loss for the Raiders. Smith helped develop Darren Waller from a practice squad player with the Baltimore Ravens to one of the best tight ends in the entire NFL. He also did a very good job of developing Foster Moreau, who has been an impressive young tight end. Thanks to his excellent work, it’s not a surprise that Smith got a promotion.

He’s been coaching in the NFL for a decade now. He was an offensive assistant with the New Orleans Saints from 2010 to 2014 and the tight ends coach for the Chicago Beats from 2015 to 2017 before joining the Raiders in 2018.

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Jason Witten to Replace Smith on Raiders Staff?

With Smith off to Los Angeles, all eyes appear to be on Jason Witten. The future Hall of Fame tight end just wrapped up his first season with the Raiders and retirement seems likely. He’ll be 39 when next season starts up and it might be time to transition.

Per Tafur, it doesn’t sound like they want him back on the field but would give him a coaching job if he wants it.

There probably aren’t many people in the world who know more about playing tight end than Witten. He doesn’t have any coaching experience but he’d be set up for success if he took the Raiders job. He’d have two really good young tight ends to work with, which would make his job very easy.


Jon Gruden Doesn’t Think Witten Will Want to Coach Yet

While it sounds like Witten has a job from the Raiders if he wants it, there’s no guarantee he’s ready. Head coach Jon Gruden thinks that the future Hall of Famer could be an excellent coach but believes he’s headed back to TV.

“Yeah, I think Wit wanted to be a coach,” Gruden said shortly after the season. “I think he’ll be a great coach. I think after seeing what we went through this year, I’d say ‘Hell no.’

“I think he’s going to get back into TV or go do something else. But yeah, I think he’d be a stellar coach. I think he’d be a Tom Landry, a Bill Cowher. I think he’s got very good football intellect, he’s got great motivational skills, he’s an excellent communicator and he loves the game.”

That’s some very high praise from Gruden. With all of the COVID-19 issues still facing the NFL, it might not be the ideal time for somebody like Witten to get into coaching. He’ll probably get a TV job with ease once he officially retires. However, he clearly still has a lot of love for football. Perhaps getting a chance to coach a team that he’s already very familiar with will be too appealing for him.

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