As names started to pop up as potential replacements as Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive coordinator Paul Guenther shortly after he was fired, most of the potential candidates had a common theme: They had all worked with Jon Gruden in the past.
Like many NFL coaches, Gruden likes to stick close to his roots and that is what happened Tuesday when he hired Gus Bradley, his linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2006 to ‘08.
Gruden also interviewed Kris Richard, who never worked with Gruden, but he did work with defensive confidante Rod Marinelli. Other names connected to the job before Bradley’s hiring were Raheem Morris and Joe Barry, both who worked under Gruden in the past.
It never seemed like Gruden would try to hire Dan Quinn or Wade Phillips, because he had no real history with them.
The Bradley hire fits Gruden. Perhaps Gruden would have hired Bradley in 2018 when he returned to the Raiders, but Bradley was already on the Chargers’ staff. So, Gruden went with Guenther in his return to the NFL after 10 seasons away. Guenther worked with Gruden’s brother, Jay, with the Cincinnati Bengals.
This Bradley hire is an important one for Gruden. If the Raiders’ defense doesn’t improve enough for the team to become a consistent playoff contender, will owner Mark Davis give Gruden a chance to hire a third defensive coordinator? Davis may lose his patience at that point.
Therefore, Gruden has to get it right. He clearly feels comfortable going forward with someone he knows well. I get that comfort level is important, but sometimes going out of the box is a worthwhile endeavor. Bradley is a fine defensive coach, but there are many others out there, too. It may have been worth Gruden’s time to take a longer look and widen his net in the search.