Raiders officially retain Al Saunders, others, part ways with defensive backs coaches

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Friday evening, the Raiders officially announced which coaches they will be retaining. Among those were senior offensive assistant Al Saunders, tight ends coach Mark Hutson, and wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore who had yet to be officially named or reported.

Among those not on the list were defensive backs coaches Clayton Lopez and Jonnie Lynn along with assistant special teams coach, Keith Burns, and strength and conditioning coach, Al Miller, who is replaced by former assistant strength and conditioning coach, John Grieco.

The entire list of assistant coaches retained is as follows:

Bobby April, Special Teams Coordinator
John DeFilippo, Quarterbacks
Ted Gilmore, Wide Receivers
John Grieco, Strength and Conditioning
Justin Griffith, Quality Control - Offense
Mark Hutson, Tight Ends
Greg Olson, Offensive Coordinator
Bob Sanders, Linebackers
Eric Sanders, Quality Control - Defense
Al Saunders, Senior Offensive Assistant
Kelly Skipper, Running Backs
Tony Sparano, Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line
Jason Tarver, Defensive Coordinator
Terrell Williams, Defensive Line

Someone had to be held accountable for the poor performance by the Raiders defense and the defensive backs coaches are a sensible place to look. After all, this defense set a new franchise record for passing touchdowns given up in a game (7) and in a season (33).

This keeps Dennis Allen's staff almost entirely intact. The only coaches who are not retained are those the Raiders very likely did not want to return. It puts to rest early concerns about Mark Davis perhaps digging in his heels on only handing out one-year extensions. He may have put that offer out there initially but his willingness to be flexible in the face of the possibility of losing key assistants is admirable and refreshing. We know that at very least Tony Sparano received a two-year deal and perhaps others as well, though not announced.

Though the Raiders went 4-12 last season, there is something to be said about continuity. This staff will be given at least one more season to see what they can do with a full salary to spend on player additions and another draft.

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