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Raiders coaching search: Rich Bisaccia beckons serious consideration

The case for continuity, player preference and keeping the status quo for Las Vegas head coach gig

AFC Wild Card Playoffs - Las Vegas Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals
Rich Bisaccia, left, is known as a player’s coach and has the backing of several Raiders to land the permanent head coach gig.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

If it were up to quarterback Derek Carr, Rich Bisaccia wouldn’t have “interim” in front of his title as Las Vegas Raiders head coach. The franchise signal caller isn’t alone in that thought either. Bisaccia has the backing of both DC4 and defensive end Maxx Crosby, among others, to remain captain of the Silver & Black ship.

“I think we can all think that he’s the right guy,” Carr said of Bisaccia after the Raiders postseason exit. “He’s proven that people listen to him. Our team listens to him. And I love him so much, I’m thankful for him. All those things will be decisions that I don’t make, I don’t get to make. I just play quarterback ... but with everything that went on, if you really look at what happened, all the pieces missing, everything that changed, yeah, he held it together.”

Ditto for Crosby.

“If it was up to me, I think everyone in the world knows what my decision would be,” the defensive end said in the postgame presser after the loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. “I love Rich. You know, I’m biased, obviously, but he’s — he’s a great coach ... he came in and got us to 10 wins. We came on the road, on a short week, and gave Cincinnati everything they could handle.

“One of the best people I know. One of the most honest dudes I know. And I’ll go to bat for him any day of the week. I love that dude to death. He knows that. I appreciate everything he’s brought to the table. I hope we keep doing it.”

Keep on, keeping on. There’s something to be said about continuity. It’s a notion that’s seldom seen in Raider Land, first and foremost. But there’s merit to building upon a trail that was impressively blazed last season. Bisaccia’s Raiders didn’t simply whither on the vine — even though it appeared the team was well on their way of doing so during a 1-5 stretch after Week 14. Then came the frantic finish that saw the Bisaccia’s marauders rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and string together four-straight nail-biting wins to finish 10-7 and get into the playoffs.

That mad dash and a playoff berth came during a season of discourse that saw Las Vegas overcome the departure of then-head coach Jon Gruden, the release of scintillating wide receiver Henry Ruggs III after a horrific car accident he caused, and a myriad of other factors.

And while the Raiders’ season came to a crashing thud in the 26-19 loss to the Bengals in the AFC Wild Card round, it doesn’t diminish what Bisaccia was able to do as a leader of men in Vegas. He’s acknowledged his growth as a head coach, knowing he can get the job done, but is apt to learn even more.

“I think we have to grow, right?” Bisaccia said the week before the Wild Card game at Cincy. “If we don’t grow, if we don’t have a sense of humility and listen and learn and grow and improve then you stay the same. And none of us stay the same. I don’t think I’ve changed. I think I’ve learned a lot. I like to think I’ve improved in a positive way, the same thing we’re expecting from our players.”

The expectation he set for the Raiders in his charge was a heartening thing for his players. From Carr on down, Bisaccia was at the forefront of keeping the team competitive but also relating to the individuals who made up his football squad.

“He just has unique ability to really relate to anybody from any walk of life,” Raiders defensive end Gus Bradley said. “He’s authentic as it comes. And that’s what the players appreciate the most, I think. They know what they’re getting every day. I really think it’s his leadership through our challenging times, his consistency.”

Authenticity was something Raiders running back Josh Jacobs valued when it came to Bisaccia, even before the long-time special teams boss was named interim head honcho.

“I told people when he got the job that he was the right man for the job for multiple reasons,” Jacobs noted. “Every guy in the room respects him. Even before he was the head coach, he was one of them guys that you go talk to about life when you got things going on. And when you got a coach that you respect and that you genuinely care for and you love, you’ll do whatever for them.”

Bisaccia was the glue that held everything together when it could’ve easily all fallen apart. And that’s got to count for something. Was it perfect? No. But considering the circumstance, Bisaccia did an admirable job of keeping his Raiders not only afloat, but getting them past the finish line at 10-7 with a playoff appearance.

“The fact that that staff kept everything together and kept us competitive and kept us finding ways to win football games, I think that’s what our organization is about, right?,” Carr said. “So, we’ll see what happens. We know what we want to have happen. But, again, we’re Raiders. We’re going to play football, but we just hope it, obviously, we hope it’s for somebody special.”

And therein lies the point: “We’ll see what happens.”

Mark Davis’ search for a new general manager — to replace the ousted Mike Mayock — is taking a slow and steady approach. Mixed in there are interviews with potential head coaches, too. The hot topic currently is New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels becoming the top candidate to captain the Raiders ship.

But don’t discount Rich B. In Bisaccia, Davis gets a known commodity. The owner has seen what Rich B has to offer up close and personal. The two spoke regularly and the pair conducted the formal interview a week ago. Expectations will surely be ramped up after the team’s 2021 finish but Bisaccia is the type that’s game for whatever comes.

Still, while Raider players aren’t shy about throwing their name in the Bisaccia support hat, they know the NFL is a business and it’s Davis’ prerogative to decide who’ll lead his football team.

“Rich has proven that he can do it at this level, and we love playing for him, we play hard for him, and ... I think he can lead us, if given the opportunity. So, we’ll see how the cards fold,” said wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. “We’ll obviously love whoever they bring in, and we’ll work towards winning a Super Bowl next year.”

Teammate and defensive end Yannick Ngakoue echoed the sentiment.

“We’re just going to wait and see,” he said said. “Time will tell a lot of things, around the whole league, not just organization. Each and every year, people have changes. That’s just part of the game.”