After a blowout loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the Las Vegas Raiders announced that they have decided to fire defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. It’s a move that fans have been calling for over the last year thought Jon Gruden gave him a very long leash. The defense hasn’t shown any improvement and has arguably regressed this year.
The team also announced that they have promoted defensive line coach Rod Marinelli to the role of interim defensive coordinator. Guenther had a good amount of success during his 13-year stint with the Cincinnati Bengals between 2005-17. He was originally viewed as a good hire when Gruden decided to bring him on.
As was the case in Cinncinati, Guenther didn’t have the luxury of a roster loaded with defensive talent in Las Vegas that was coached up by Mike Zimmer, who is considered one of the better defensive minds in the NFL. After his nearly three years in Oakland and Las Vegas, it’s fair to assume Guenther was successful because of the situation he was in more so than what he brought to the team.
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Marinelli Has Been Successful as a Defensive Coordinator
When the Raiders fired former defensive line coach Brenston Buckner to hire Marinelli, there was a lot of speculation that he could be insurance policy should Guenther fail again. Whether that was the plan or not, it’s what ended up happening. Marinelli hasn’t had much success coaching up the Raiders’ defensive line to date, but fans should feel better about him leading the defense.
Over his last four seasons as defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, Marinelli’s defenses finished in the top-10 for scoring defense. Just take a look at how the Cowboys’ defense is looking without him and it’s not hard to deduce that he’s good at his job. Now, the Raiders shouldn’t expect to turn things around overnight. However, Marinelli knows defense and should be a big upgrade over Guenther.
Raiders Can Still Make Playoffs
There are still a number of scenarios that would allow the Raiders to sneak into the playoffs. As bad as they have been these last three weeks, it’s still very possible the team finishes the season 10-6. They’ve got a short week before an AFC West faceoff with the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night. The Raiders have already defeated them once in 2020 and the group they have now doesn’t look any better. If Las Vegas has any sense of urgency, they should win on Thursday.
What follows in Week 16 is a game against the Miami Dolphins which will likely be an absolute must-win. Brian Flores’ club lost to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, dropping their record to 8-5. If the Raiders can beat the Chargers and then follow up with a win against Miami, they’d at the very least have the same record at 9-6.
The last game of the season is in Denver against the Broncos. The Raiders blew them out in their first matchup and should make easy work of them. Unfortunately, nothing seems to come easy for the silver and black these days.