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Jon Gruden fired Paul Guenther because Raiders’ defense needs ‘new voice’

Gruden calls former defensive coordinator a ”good friend”

Indianapolis Colts v Las Vegas Raiders
Jon Gruden
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sunday night was difficult for Jon Gruden as he fired a coach during the season for the first time when he relieved defensive coordinator Paul Guenther of his duties after a 44-27 home loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

On Monday, Gruden addressed the media and said the firing of his “good friend” Guenther, who came to the Raiders with Gruden in his return to the team in 2018, was about finding a “new voice” for the team during the rest of the season.

The 7-6 Raiders can make the playoffs if they win their three final games (beginning Thursday night at home against the Los Angeles Chargers) and the Baltimore Ravens lose one of their final four games, including Monday night at the Cleveland Browns.

For the time being, defensive line coach Rod Marinelli will finish the season as the defensive coordinator. Marinelli, 71, has been an NFL coach since 1996. He has nine seasons experience as an NFL defensive coordinator and three seasons experience as an NFL head coach.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Paul Guenther
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

“We need a new voice and Marinelli is going to give it,” Gruden said on Monday. “We need a new voice, a new energy ... It’s difficult because I have a lot of respect for Paul and he’s a good friend.

“In the long run, this probably going to be good for Paul to get away from me ... A different perspective, a different approach will help us.”

Gruden said Marinelli is a coach who “thrives in adversity” and Gruden believes Marinelli is the right coach to take over for the rest of the season. Gruden declined to talk about his plan for the position after this season.