Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
The Raiders have officially announced the hiring of Bob Sanders as the teams new linebackers coach, completing their staff. Here's the rundown of the new coaches in Oakland.
The Raiders entered the off-season firing four assistant coaches from the staff. Those coaches were offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman, offensive line coach Frank Pollack, and linebackers coach Johnny Holland.
The team has since hired each coach in order of their level of coaching. They waited over two weeks before their first hire which frustrated a lot of fans who last year saw many great coaching candidates get hired elsewhere while the Raiders coaching search dragged on.
When the Raiders did make their first hire, it seemed anticlimactic. With many great names out there for the offensive coordinator position, they opted for Jaguars QB coach, Greg Olson. This hire was met with little enthusiasm due to Olson's resume. As QB coach in Jacksonville last season, Blaine Gabbert was terrible and he was a big reason the Jaguars finished 2-14 on the season.
Olson had been the offensive coordinator for six season overall in his career and in all but one of those seasons, his offenses ranked among the worst in the NFL, including his previous stop in Tampa Bay where he spent three seasons. But it was not Olson's resume the Raiders were looking at but rather his coaching style and how it fit with the Raiders. In that regard, the hire made much more sense.
The next coach to be hired was special teams coordinator. For that position they grabbed former Eagles special teams coordinator, Bobby April. He, like Olson, was let go along with the rest of the coaching staff.
April's addition was met with far more enthusiasm. He had a poor season last year with the Eagles but his career resume speaks for itself. He is a two-time NFL special teams coach of the year and the weakest area by Raiders former special teams coordinator, Steve Hoffman, is April's strongest area - returns and coverage.
Hoffman's supposed area of expertise was kickers and punters. That's the area least needed on the Raiders as they had the best kicking/punting duo in NFL history. April has a fine history with kickers and punters as well but the Raiders need help the most in returns and coverage.
Now with the coordinators out of the way, it was time to move on to the position coaches - starting with the offensive line coach. For this role, the Raiders scored big time with former head coach, Tony Sparano. They also made him assistant head coach.
Few coaches come with a better reputation by word of former players and coaches. His players speak glowingly about him. As is often said, they would ‘run through walls for him'. He was fired as offensive coordinator of the Jets after one season. His strength has never been as an OC or head coach in the league but his work with offensive lines is what earned him his promotions in the first place.
This brings us to Bob Sanders as the final piece of the puzzle. He coached the Bills linebackers the last two seasons and was released along with the entire Bills staff this off-season. He's the first Reggie McKenzie connected coach as he was with the Packers for four years, the last three as defensive coordinator. Prior to that, he coached the linebackers in Miami for four seasons. He came to the NFL after 11 years as a defensive assistant/linebackers coach with the Florida Gators.
What was one of the more inexperienced coaching staffs last season is now one of the more experienced. Among just these four new coaches, there is a combined 119 years of coaching experience with 61 of those years at the NFL level.
The staff boast six coaches with coordinator at the NFL level on their resumes and three with NFL head coach on their resumes. The position coaches are now for more experienced than the head coach and defensive coordinator combined by a long shot.
Now Jason Tarver, being a former linebackers coach himself, can draw up his schemes knowing his linebackers are in good hands. Dennis Allen can focus on his head coaching duties both knowing the play calling, special teams, and offensive line will be performing at their best as well.