Jon Gruden hasn’t even officially taken the job as head coach of the Raiders and won’t for another week or so, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t already hard at work assembling a coaching staff. Yesterday brought news that Gruden was planning to hire current Jets OC John Morton to the same position, and today the word is that Gruden has his eye on a candidate for the defensive coordinator spot in Oakland.
Bengals' DC Paul Guenther, whose contract is now up, is an enviable position: he is expected to be a leading candidate to become Jon Gruden's DC in Oakland or could be HC candidate in Cincinnati depending on how the Marvin Lewis situations unfolds, per league source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 1, 2018
The 46-year old Guenther took over as Bengals defensive coordinator in 2014 when Mike Zimmer left Cincinnati to take the Vikings head coaching position. Guenther’s overall performance has been pretty good, albeit with a slight dropoff from Zimmer, who is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL today and whose Vikings have one of the top defenses in 2017.
Throughout the first month of 2017, Guenther’s Bengals were second in pass defense and had allowed the second fewest first downs to opponents. The Bengals record wasn’t good because their offense was awful this season. Cincinnati’s defense was decidedly not their issue.
The Bengals finished 18th in total defense in 2017, but that was less on scheme and more on a multitude of injuries suffered at key positions. The Bengals were without at least three starters in their secondary for much of the latter part of the season. Even so, the Bengals ended the season strong, winning their final two games against the Lions and Ravens, mainly on the back of strong defensive efforts.
The only thing that may potentially keep Guenther from coming to Oakland is the fact that he may be under strong consideration to replace Marvin Lewis as head coach of the Bengals, should Lewis be relieved of his duties. The Bengals have yet to make a decision on Lewis’ future. Jon Gruden might just make that decision for them by poaching Guenther.
Update: Guenther will interview for the Raiders Defensive Coordinator position.