Jon Gruden is out as Raiders coach again. The first time, in 2002, he was traded to the Buccaneers and won a Super Bowl. The second time, in 2021, he has resigned, only three seasons and five games into a 10-year, $100 million contract.
Gruden’s coaching (and NFL broadcasting) career is likely finished at age 58 after a New York Times report revealed old emails in which he used homophobic and misogynistic language from 2010, when he was on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” through 2018, when he was re-hired by the Raiders.
Although the Raiders will be turning to Rich Bisacca as interim coach for the rest of the season to try to help a 3-2 team make the AFC playoffs, the search for a full-time replacement in 2022 begins now. Here’s our ranking of the eight best potential hires:
1. Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator (age: 52)
This might be a prime chance to get his long overdue promotion from Andy Reid’s staff with the Chiefs’ AFC West arch rivals. Las Vegas should want to take a page from Kansas City’s success around Patrick Mahomes and work to install a more dynamic offense that makes better use of tight end Darren Waller and its young speedy and quick wide receivers. The Raiders could then also think about attaching Bieneimy to a rookie franchise QB vs. Derek Carr.
2. Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator (age: 33)
Moore is the wunderkind calling the plays for Dak Prescott and Dallas’ explosive, balanced and versatile attack. He can bring a lot more upside as well to the Raiders’ offensive weaponry, whether or not it’s still Carr in the driver’s seat next season. Like Bieniemy, Moore is a native West Coaster who should find it appealing to make the early jump to the glamorous desert.
3. Joe Brady, Panthers offensive coordinator (age: 32)
In the same vein there’s Brady, only a year younger than Moore and a potential Sean McVay-like coaching savant. It’s OK to start young again for the Raiders with a maverick approach, something the late, great Al Davis would love. There’s the same logic going after Brady as the two guys above: Someone who could work to get the Raiders on the offensive level of the Chiefs and Chargers sooner rather than later.
4. Jerod Mayo, Patriots linebackers coach (age: 35)
The Raiders’ defense has been trending in a better direction but they should also think about tapping into the Bill Belichick coaching tree on the other side of the ball from. Mayo can be a master motivator former player and make Las Vegas play with discipline and toughness all around. He’s been itching to make the leap as an organized leader and he should at least get an in-depth interview.
5. Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers offensive coordinator (age: 41)
File Leftwich under Bieniemy, Moore and Brady. He has the Super Bowl champion ring working with Tom Brady. Mark Davis and Mike Mayock’s interest should be piqued by the former Jaguars quarterback, who’s also ready for his big shot.
6. Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator (age: 46)
If the Raiders can’t get who’s working with Mahomes, Prescott and Brady, then they should be interested in the man behind getting the most of Josh Allen’s passing and running. Again, looking for a dynamic dual threat to upgrade from Carr might come with this scenario.
7. Matt Eberflus, Colts defensive coordinator (age: 51)
Here’s a second defensive candidate to consider as Eberflus also has been the short list for many teams. He is another intelligent, organized motivator who would fit nicely in Las Vegas, moving on from Frenk Reich’s staff the way Nick Sirianni dide for Philadelphia.
8. Doug Pederson, former Eagles head coach (age: 53)
Speaking of Philadelphia, the Raiders also should consider bringing back Pederson into the league. Despite how things ended with the Eagles, Pederson still has that Super Bowl 51 ring on his finger. He could work well with Mayock to get the Raiders up to a playoff level and another way to connect to Reid’s Chiefs.