The Las Vegas Raiders fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther on Sunday in an attempt to save the season before it’s too late. Time will tell if Rod Marinelli can work his magic and turn the defense around. If he can’t, the Raiders will likely look to bring in a fresh face to try and turn the group around.
Las Vegas is an average defense away from being a really good team. The offense is solid but they can’t seem to stop even the bad teams in the NFL. There’s no doubt they need more talented players but they’re also going to need a great defensive coordinator. According to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Super Bowl champion coach Wade Phillips is eyeing the Raiders job:
According to a person close to the situation, Phillips wants to return to the NFL, and the Raiders’ defensive coordinator job would highly interest him.
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Would Phillips Be a Good Hire?
Raiders fans should be very familiar with Phillips as a defensive coordinator. He’s spent years in the AFC West with the Broncos and Chargers. In 2015, his defense won Denver a Super Bowl. He also helped get the Rams to the Super Bowl in 2018 but lost to the New England Patriots. That loss wasn’t on the defense as they only allowed Tom Brady and company to score 13 points.
At 73 years old, Phillips probably wouldn’t be the most exciting hire but he knows how to run a defense and definitely knows how to get after a quarterback. What should interest him in the Raiders job is that they have former Rams Cory Littleton and LaMarcus Joyner on the defense. Both men had their best years under Phillips and have struggled since leaving him. It would be an interesting move for the Raiders to sign the veteran coach but it remains to be seen if the feeling is mutual.
Other Potential Candidates
Not many would doubt that Phillips is a great defensive mind. However, the Raiders could look to go for somebody a little younger in the role. Shortly after Guenther was let go, some fans pointed to Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris as a potential fit. He has a strong relationship with Jon Gruden and has helped turn Atlanta around. They held a really good Raiders offense to only six points just a few weeks ago. If he doesn’t get a head coaching job, he’d be a solid pickup for the silver and black.
Gruden has more connections across the league. Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley could be a free agent. He used to be Gruden’s linebackers coach in Tampa Bay. He’s had a lot of success as a defensive coordinator and should know the Raiders well.
If the team is feeling bold, they could try to take a risk. Derrick Ansley was the Raiders’ defensive backs coach in 2018 but went back to the NCAA for a defensive coordinator job at Tennesee. The Vols’ defense has improved under him despite their struggles this year. He’s only 39 but it could be beneficial to bring a young, fresh mind to the team. Gruden thinks highly of Ansley so it might be more possible than people realize.