3 Best Coaching Options for Future of Raiders QB Derek Carr
Two big decisions now loom for the Raiders. They have to settle on a new head coach, and they have to sort out the future of quarterback Derek Carr, who is entering the final year of his contract. Both decisions may be connected.
"I'm told Derek Carr's presence will factor heavily into the thinking," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler wrote. "The Raiders are all-in on Carr as the franchise guy."
To some degree, the decision may lie with Las Vegas' next general manager. Mike Mayock was notified Monday that he won't be returning, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
If the Raiders are sold on Carr for the long term, then Las Vegas should be looking for a complementary head coach. Here you will find a look at three potential candidates.
To complement Carr, the Raiders don't necessarily need to find an offensive coach who can raise the quarterback's level of play. Carr, who has posted a passer rating above 93.0 in each of the past four seasons, is capable of playing at a high level on his own.
Las Vegas could look to play off Carr with a coach who can improve the defense and install a level of drive and physicality to the entire team. Recently fired Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores would fit the bill there.
Flores helped his team overcome a 1-7 start to the 2021 season, and while the Dolphins missed the playoffs, they still finished with a winning record. Over his past two seasons, Flores went 19-14 as Miami's head coach. The Dolphins finished 2021 ranked 15th in total defense and 16th in points allowed.
Over Miami's final nine games in 2021, the defense allowed an average of just 15.5 points per game. The 2021 Raiders ranked 26th in points allowed, and Carr was often forced into late-game heroics—see the ending of Saturday's game for an example.
Bringing in a capable defensive coach like Flores could help both Carr and the Raiders to be better in 2022.
If the Raiders do want to try taking Carr to the next level, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy could be the perfect candidate. An innovative offensive mind, Bieniemy has helped AFC West rival Patrick Mahomes become a superstar.
Given the success that the Chiefs offense has experienced over the past few seasons, it's surprising that Bieniemy hasn't yet been hired for a head-coaching gig.
"It disappoints me that someone hasn't hired him," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said, per ProFootballTalk's Michael David Smith. "I think this year he's going to end up with one."
Additionally, Bieniemy is intimately familiar with the AFC West. He first joined Kansas City in 2013 as running backs coach. He knows how to attack the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers defenses, and that knowledge could be an extra weapon in Carr's arsenal.
The one downside to targeting Bieniemy is that the Raiders may have to wait until Kansas City's playoff run is complete to make the hire. That could mean weeks of waiting, during which time other candidates may come off the market.
If the Raiders want to make a coaching hire with Carr in mind, the best course of action may be to simply remove the interim tag from Rich Bisaccia.
Bisaccia helped Las Vegas navigate multiple on- and off-field obstacles in 2021—including the resignation of head coach Jon Gruden—and propelled the team into the postseason. He's already proved that he can handle the job, and he's earned Carr's stamp of approval.
"I think we can all think that he's the right guy," Carr said of Bisaccia, per ESPN's Paul Gutierrez. "He's proven that people listen to him. Our team listens to him. And I love him so much, I'm thankful for him. ... The fact that that staff kept everything together and kept us competitive and kept us finding ways to win football games, I think that's what our organization is about, right?"
Why change what worked down the stretch this season? The Raiders were in position to tie the game against Cincinnati before Carr's interception on 4th-and-goal late in regulation. Had the quarterback thrown a touchdown instead of an interception—and subsequently won the game in overtime—we would be talking about a matchup with the Tennessee Titans and not a coaching search.
Instead of replacing Bisaccia, the smart decision might be the more simple one: let him keep the job. That would help the team focus on tailoring the roster to better fit Bisaccia and Carr in the offseason.