Years ago when I was on a few Raiders sites, we were all talking about the vacant coaching position. Sean Payton had not been hired yet by New Orleans and I raved about the guy. Many fans were in love with Al Saunders at the time, because Payton was too young and had no coaching experience. We all know how that worked out.
What so many teams do wrong, is that they hire young assistants who have not paid their dues. In reality they are still learning to lead. The best coaches many times are those that have been assistants for a while with successes seen along the way.
Fast forward to today. I think Tony Sparano should be the interim coach for the rest of the year. I don’t think he’s a head coach in the NFL but he is a solid coach and football man. At the end of the year though, the Raiders need to jump on one of these candidates. These are my top 4 picks for the Raiders coaching position.
The coach I really love is Mike Zimmer who is now the head coach of the Vikings. The Vikings have limited talent and have the nightmare scenario of the Adrian Peterson saga but the tough minded Zimmer has Minnesota excited again about the Vikings and their future. For now, these are my hopes for the Raiders.
- Art Briles, Head Coach Baylor:
At 20 years old Art Briles lost his parents and his aunt in a terrible car accident while they were on their way to watch him play while he was at the University of Houston. His present wife at the last minute didn’t go. He used the memory of his family to fuel him to succeed.
Briles is a high school coaching legend in Texas. For 21 years he rebuilt schools that were in terrible states into football powers. He adapted to his personnel, sometimes running the wishbone and other times running the spread. He eventually got a head coaching job at Houston where the Cougars had become the joke of college football. Again in 4 years he created one of the best offenses in college football.
He was then hired at Baylor and every year they have been one of the top teams in the country with a dynamic offense. Robert Griffin III thrived under Briles amazingly aggressive passing game.
The NFL has changed. Seven of the top 10 passing seasons of all time have happened in the last 3 years, with Matt Stafford having two of those seasons. Yes; Matt Stafford. The rules are comically allowing wide receivers do whatever they want. Instead of the power running game, many teams are realizing that with the present rules, a great passing game is near unstoppable. Already college and pro coaches are rumored to talk to him about his theories on offense.
Briles is a great offensive mind and his offense would be hard to stop. With strong armed quarterback Derek Carr, he could really transform the offense into a Rich Gannon type passing game but with the addition of the long ball. The Raiders still need a true #1 wide receiver but I think Briles would thrive. I would also make sure the defensive coordinator was an experienced NFL man with a good experienced cast of NFL assistants due to Briles lack of pro coaching experience. There is a $5 million dollar buy out clause if the Raiders want him. Is early in on a 10 year contract.
- Ray Horton, Defensive Coordinator, Tennessee Titans:
Ray Horton’s aggressive 3-4 defense has been successful everywhere he’s gone. He loves going after the quarterback and pressing wide receivers at the line. The strength of the Raiders is their linebackers (when they are healthy) and he would be a perfect fit. He created the foundation of the Cardinals defense, and then the Browns defense when he went there. He thrives on turnovers and toughness. Rushing the passer and stopping the run are important to him and that’s what makes great defenses. Still in both places, Horton is thought about with respect by both fans and players.
He is an aggressive person who likes to make his defense do his talking. His personality with the media is somewhat frosty and he’s not exactly the kiss butt type, but he can flat out coach and he’s paid his dues. The fans of Tennessee are very excited to have him and he’s already paid dividends.
- Darrell Bevell: Offensive Coordinator, Seattle Seahawks:
When Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was drafted, people just smirked and shook their heads. I remember the post draft grades ripped them apart. When asked about drafting Russell, Head Coach Pete Carroll, said “Wilson’s Bevell’s project”.
Bevell was famous in Madison Wisconsin for being the quarterback that started the rise in Badgers football in the 90’s. He knew a lot about Wilson and loved his talent. Wilson raves about Bevell and Seattle is now one of the top rushing teams in the NFL, as well as being in the top 10 in other categories. Seattle is a well rounded football team thanks to Bevell’s talents and he’d be amazing for Derek Carr to learn from.
- Jim Harbaugh: Head Coach San Francisco 49ers.
Oh the humanity. Yes I said it. He may end up coaching for the 49ers for years to come but most feel if the 49ers don’t win the Superbowl, he may be coaching elsewhere. He’s never stayed at one place for a long time and he’s very talented. San Francisco’s front office is so politically correct that they would make Bill Clinton shake his head. Not all is well in Niner land and I don’t mean the high prices of their new stadium, or the messed up wifi. Harbaugh still doesn’t have control of player personnel moves and there is obvious tension in the front office. The 49ers want a Super bowl and there was much criticism given to Harbaugh and quarterback Colin Kaepernick after each failure.
A Stanford official once told Gary Radnich of KNBR fame that Jim Harbaugh is the type of coach to build something special from scratch but he isn’t the type of coach that you want around for a long time. Even Stanford seemed relieved to have laid back David Shaw over Jim Harbaugh. After he left, some people told the media that Harbaugh was a pain in the butt and he rubbed many people the wrong way after a while.
Harbaugh’s personality is abrasive, and he borderlines on arrogant. The one thing Harbaugh really is though is a great head coach. Every team he’s coached at has greatly improved because he’s been there. He is about accountability and winning. He protects his players in the media whenever they make a mistake, like he did with Kapernick last Sunday when he kept forgetting about the play clock.
Harbaugh would instantly clean house like they did at San Francisco and get tough nosed players. He would bring a toughness and a winning edge that has been missing for years in Oakland.