Monte Kiffin: Logical NFL Destinations for Former USC Defensive Coordinator

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIDecember 2, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 01:  Assistant head coach Monte Kiffin on the sidelines during the  USC Trojans spring game on  May 1, 2010 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Monte Kiffin didn't have much consistent success on his son's coaching staff, but the former University of Southern California defensive coordinator should not have much trouble finding work in the NFL.

According to a report on the team's website, the 72-year-old Kiffin is indeed leaving to pursue such opportunities in the professional ranks. And with so many volatile situations across the league and the staffs liable to change, there should be some attractive opportunities out there.

Here are three destinations that would make a lot of sense for Kiffin.


Oakland Raiders

It's very unlikely that the front office in Oakland is going to oust Dennis Allen after only one season, considering he is just 40 years old.

That said, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver's job probably isn't so safe.

Lane Kiffin may not have had success with the Raiders, but Monte Kiffin may be able to by introducing his scheme. The current roster has a lot of talent on the defensive front, but it has suffered recently in the absence of All-Pro Richard Seymour.

And recently suspended Rolando McClain definitely has some off-field question marks, but he's an ideal linebacker to play in Kiffin's Tampa 2 scheme, which is nicely broken down by Matt Bowen of the National Football Post.

The Oakland defense has been the root of the team's problems in 2012, and last week's fight in Cincinnati didn't help the cause. But that heated competitiveness proves there is some fire and frustration festering within the Raiders, who are searching for answers for their horrific performances and aren't finding any.

Enter Kiffin, who could be convinced to join the staff under the new Oakland management if the proper pitch is given.

The Raiders have a promising offense that is still jelling with inexperienced skill players and is dependent on the health of RB Darren McFadden. However, it will be a dangerous unit when it puts it all together and has a respectable defense to back it up.

GM Reggie McKenzie should draft speed on defense—although not to a fault, as Al Davis was known to do before him. With a high pick in the first round and offensive linemen that can be found later on, the Raiders need another elite prospect on defense to aid Kiffin's transition and to be competitive in 2013.

Cleveland Browns

It's very unclear what the new ownership of Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner is going to do with the current Browns staff. Based on a very minimal change in bottom-line results, though, it seems likely that Pat Shurmur will be fired as head coach at the very least.

Despite a veteran staff that includes former NFL head coaches Brad Childress, Dick Jauron and Ray Rhodes, the Browns have failed to get it done once again in 2012. The team can take some solace in Week 12's victory over Pittsburgh, but it was only by six points, and the Browns needed eight turnovers to make it happen.

With all the rumors and ties between Haslam and former NFL head coach Jon Gruden (h/t Jason La Canfora), it's possible that Gruden could become the next man in charge.

With a West Coast system already in place with Shurmur, Gruden would be a logical candidate to take over, considering his superior experience and track record of success to his hypothetical predecessor.

The reason Gruden plays so prominently in this discussion is also due to his connection with Kififn, the longtime Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator who keyed one of the league's best defenses for years.

That included Gruden's first year in Tampa, when the Bucs won Super Bowl XXXVII.

Those are a lot of "what-if" scenarios involving Gruden going to Cleveland, but the Browns' personnel makes a lot of sense for Kiffin regardless.

With D'Qwell Jackson at middle linebacker, he would be ideal for the Tampa 2 due to his coverage ability and nose for the football. LB Chris Gocong will also return in 2013 after an Achilles injury in camp, and the Browns have an underrated amount of young talent at linebacker to boot.

The defensive line is an attractive asset, anchored by Ahtyba Rubin and Phil Taylor at defensive tackle. And Cleveland has young depth on the interior as well.

The biggest needs for the Browns are another truly viable cornerback to start opposite Joe Haden and a clear-cut No. 1 pass-rusher. With those assets in hand, Kiffin could do some serious damage in Cleveland, particularly with a West Coast-minded head coach providing at least some offensive continuity.


New Orleans Saints

Kiffin served as the team's defensive coordinator back in 1995 and could make his second stop in New Orleans to cure an ailing unit.

The Saints have been historically awful defensively under Steve Spagnuolo, who seems so far removed from the perceptive genius who called the shots for the New York Giants defense that upset the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

With the ramifications of Bountygate blown over by 2013, the defense can start fresh under Kiffin, which seems to what it needs.

And with stars Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma not having to worry about appealing suspensions, the defense can be on the same page and at full strength next year to learn a new system.

The aggressive style of defense Kiffin coaches suits the Saints well. It's what worked under Gregg Williams, who preferred stiffening up on the goal line and forcing turnovers over limiting teams to very few yards.

QB Drew Brees can't do it on his own, and that's becoming more and more apparent as the year wears on. In fact, it's incredible the Saints are even in the playoff conversation considering how awful the defense has been. New Orleans gives up an NFL-worst 440.5 yards per game, ranks last in rush defense and is in the bottom five in every other major category.

With Smith and Vilma definitely back in the fold, tackling machine Curtis Lofton manning the middle, Cameron Jordan emerging as a viable pass-rusher and former first-round pick Patrick Robinson finally starting to put it together at cornerback, there are some pieces for Kiffin to work with.

After one or two additions in the draft or free agency—preferably a speedy linebacker, or another safety or defensive tackle to add depth—and the addition of Kiffin, the Saints could make a massive improvement on defense next year.