Al Saunders is already on the staff and has a passion for coaching that is second-to-none.
Head coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie now have to assemble of list of possible candidates to replace Knapp and actively try to interview as many as they can. Allen made it clear in his postseason press conference that he wouldn’t be tied to any scheme.
It seems more likely that Allen will be looking for a coach that will tailor the scheme to the offensive players which likely means an Air Coryell-inspired offense and power running game over a West Coast offense and the zone-blocking scheme.
Who might fit as an offensive coordinator in Oakland? Glad you asked…
The former head coach of the Washington Redskins, Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers is thought to be one of the most brilliant offensive minds in football. He’s likely to be a hot coordinator candidate despite having led the Chargers to their worst offensive output in years.
Turner’s previous two stints as offensive coordinator were not especially successful, but both times he was elevated to a head coaching job for his work. Turner has been an offensive coordinator or head coach for 22 years and had 10 offenses rank in the top 10 in points scored during that time.
Three of Turner’s good offensive years were with the Cowboys in the early 1990s and five of them were with the Chargers from 2007 to 2011. That means that Turner had just two top-10 scoring offenses from 1994 to 2006, with the most recent in 1999.
Who knows how good of an offensive coordinator Turner will really be, but he should at least be considered. Turner would likely be able to get the most out of Oakland’s offensive players and get Darren McFadden back on track.
Al Saunders coaching tight end David Ausberry during training camp in 2012.
Al Saunders is already on the staff and was the non-play-calling offensive coordinator under Hue Jackson in 2011. Saunders’ experience is vast, and he interviewed for Kansas City’s open offensive coordinator position last season.
Saunders was a special assistant in 2012 and spent almost all of his time with the tight ends. Brandon Myers became a very productive receiver under Saunders’ coaching. There are few coaches with as much passion for football as Saunders.
It’s worth noting that Saunders was Allen’s eyes in the coaching box and consulted him on when to throw the challenge flag. The Raiders were actually very good on coach’s challenges in 2012. Saunders would seem like a logical choice, but the Raiders may consider an external candidate and continue to give Saunders special projects.
Cam Cameron is the former offensive coordinator of the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens. Cameron was the offensive coordinator for Marty Schottenheimer in San Diego from 2002 to 2006 and John Harbaugh’s in Baltimore from 2008 until just a few weeks ago.
Schotttenheimer has a well-known dislike of the Raiders, but that doesn’t mean Cameron feels as strongly. The new regime in Oakland makes the Raiders a more attractive landing spot. Cameron simply became a scapegoat for the poor play of Joe Flacco.
Cameron’s offenses have been consistently good, but rarely great since he became an offensive coordinator in 2002. Cameron also flamed out as a head coach and certainly could provide Allen with some insight on how not to do things.
This one makes a lot of sense for the Raiders and for Cameron.
Aaron Kromer was the interim head coach in New Orleans for the first six games of 2012 and went 2-4. Kromer is currently the Saints offensive line coach and running game coordinator. Oakland also fired its offensive line coach along with Knapp and will be looking to find a guy to make the most out of Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece.
Kromer might find a head coaching opportunity elsewhere, but that’s no guarantee. Kromer is stuck behind Sean Payton, Pete Carmichael and Joe Vitt on the coaching depth chart in New Orleans and might welcome the opportunity to run an offense if he’s passed over for head coaching jobs.
Allen worked with Kromer when he was in New Orleans, which makes him a logical pick. Knapp also worked with Allen, and it’s clear that Allen likes familiarity. Kromer would bring with him Payton’s Air Coryell-inspired offense.
Although he’s probably still a long shot to become a coordinator at this stage in his career, Joe Lombardi would be an interesting candidate. Lombardi is the grandson of Vince Lombardi and Drew Brees’ quarterbacks coach in New Orleans.
Lombardi would bring with him the same qualities as Kromer, but he’s considerably younger. Younger sometimes means more aggressive and creative. He may not be ready to be a coordinator yet, but he’s been Brees’ quarterback coach for the last three years.
Few other coaches in New Orleans would have worked as closely with Payton or Brees. The NFL also loves pedigrees, and Lombardi’s is about as premium as they come. The Super Bowl trophy is named after his grandfather!
Ken Whisenhunt is thought to be a good coach that got stuck in a poor situation in Arizona and also influenced poor personnel decisions like trading for Kevin Kolb. Whisenhunt was never able to replace Kurt Warner, and the offense suffered.
When Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator with the Steelers, his offenses were the good rushing teams, but as the head coach in Arizona he transitioned to passing offense. Whisenhunt has provd that he will tailor his offense to his personnel.
Arizona’s offense has been just plain bad for the last few years, and that’s what got him fired in Arizona, but he might be better off coaching only offense. Whisenhunt’s experience as a head coach might also help Allen as he learns the job.
Whisenhunt would also probably be a package deal with offensive line coach Russ Grimm, provided neither of them fill one of the head coaching vacancies around the NFL.
Relatively young at just 45 years old, Eric Studesville has already been an interim head coach having taken over for Josh McDaniels at the end of the 2010 season. Since 2001, Studesville has been a running backs coach with three different organizations.
The running game is something the Raiders desperately want to get going, and Studesville might be the right guy to get it going. Studesville would be a first-time coordinator who probably carries too much risk for the Raiders to consider.
With Denver’s offensive coordinator Mike McCoy likely to get a head coaching opportunity, the Broncos might not be inclined to grant a division rival permission to poach one of their young coaches.
Studesville coached with Allen in 2011.
Allen formerly worked on Dan Reeves’ staff in Atlanta, and the two are apparently close. According to Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times, Allen called Reeves earlier this year for advice.
Reeves is 68, but as recently as 2010 was open to getting back into coaching. In 2009, Reeves interview for the San Francisco 49ers' open offensive coordinator job. Reeves last coached in 2003—nearly a decade ago.
This one seems highly unlikely consider how long Reeves has been out of coaching and his age. The NFL is rough for older coaches because of the long hours, which is why teams are increasing turning to younger coaches who work for less pay.
Okay, this one is just making sure you are paying attention, but if Reeves advises Allen again this offseason, he might suggest the next candidate…
Chan Gailey, the now former head coach of the Buffalo Bills, would be another former head coach who might make sense leading Oakland’s offense. Gailey is an experienced guy who has links to Reeves and could be an option for the Raiders.
Gailey has never been an offensive coordinator for longer than two years, which is a major red flag. Gailey was last an offensive coordinator in Kansas City in 2008 and prior to that had two-year stints as an offensive coordinator in Miami, Pittsburgh and Denver.
Gailey would be an uninspiring choice, but he still could be a possibility.
Shurmur spent 10 years with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 to 2008 coaching quarterbacks. Still relatively young at just 47 years old, Shurmur would be different than many of the other coaching candidates in that he runs a West Coast offense.
Shurmur hasn’t had a lot of offensive talent, so it’s tough to gauge how good or bad his offenses have been. If the Raiders decided to go with a coach that favors power running and the West Coast offense, Shurmur is an intriguing candidate.
If he wasn’t considered a package deal with Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg would be the more logical candidate if the Raiders wanted to run the West Coast offense. It seems much more likely that the Raiders will revert back to a Coryell-inspired offense.