After the disheartening loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, the Las Vegas Raiders finally made the call to fire defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. It’s a move that has seemed inevitable for some time. While the Raiders haven’t spent a lot of money on defense, the group has only seemed to get worse this year.
Head coach Jon Gruden is friends with Guenther and they share an agent but he had to make the tough call. Gruden addressed the decision on Monday.
“We need a new voice right now,” Gruden said. “I think we need a new energy.
“It’s a very tough decision we made. Paul is a great friend and a great coach who gave great effort here for two-and-a-half years. It’s very tough circumstances with COVID and players coming and going with all the injuries.”
It’s true that Guenther hasn’t been playing with a full deck of cards this season. The Raiders have dealt with a lot of injuries. However, the team hasn’t even been competitive on defense over recent weeks. It was a tough call to make but it’s something Las Vegas had to do if they hope to make the playoffs.
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Gruden Hoping to Turn Things Around With 3 Games Left
With Guenther shown the door, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli is taking over defensive coordinator duties for the remainder of the season. He’s got loads of experience as a coach and had a lot of success as the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys. The Raiders are still in the playoff race and Gruden is hoping that switching things up can give the defense a spark.
“With three games left, we’re going to let Rod Marinelli call the plays,” Gruden said. “He has experience doing that. We have a good staff and a lot of young players. We want to service those players the best way we can with a new voice and new energy and a guy who’s had a lot of experience in some tough situations.”
Gruden Praises Marinelli
While Marinelli has been successful in the past, he hasn’t done a very good job with the defensive line this year. After taking a leap last year, it looks like they’ve taken another step back. The hope will be that Marinelli’s defensive line struggled because of Guenther’s scheme and not because of how he coached them. Gruden has worked with Marinelli in the past and believes that he’ll be up to the task of fixing a broken defense with only three games left.
“I think he’s one of the great teachers and great motivators and great people that I’ve met in this business,” Gruden said. “He looks forward to adversity. He thrives in it. I think he looks forward to these challenges, the building of this defense, putting it all together. That’s why we brought him here in the first place, so it’d certainly help if his soldiers got healthy up front. But he’s got great experience and has a great amount of experience in situations like this.”
Marinelli could be auditioning for his next job. The Raiders will need to find a long-term defensive coordinator this offseason and Marinelli could be the guy they hire if the defense ends the season on a strong note.