Packers lose, Raiders coaching search kicks into high gear

When the Raiders brought in former Packers’ Director of Football Operations, Reggie McKenzie, as their general manager, he promptly fired head coach Hue Jackson. McKenzie then said he wanted to bring in “one of his guys” as the next coach. But if his guy was to come from the Packers, it would have to wait for their season to end first. With the Packers’ loss to the Giants on Sunday, that time has come.

When reports originally surfaced that Reggie McKenzie would be hired as the Raiders’ GM, there were thoughts that at very least he would bring some of the Packers’ defensive coaches to Oakland with him. It was the Raiders’ defense that ultimately let them down this season and Hue Jackson all but fired defensive coordinator, Chuck Bresnahan, in his firey postgame press conference following the season ending loss to the Chargers.

Well, since his firing, that coaching search turned into an entire staff. That meant that the Super Bowl Champion Packers staff was where McKenzie would go first to pluck a head coach and perhaps several coordinators and/or position coaches.

The name that has long swirled in Oakland is Winston Moss. He has been the Packers’ linebackers coach and assistant head coach for the past five seasons. He was a top choice last offseason to be the Raiders’ next defensive coordinator but opted to stay with the Packers. Now he is being mentioned as the top candidate for the head coaching position in Oakland — a job he is not expected to turn down.

Moss, like McKenzie, is a former Raider linebacker. He succeeded McKenzie in the Raiders’ defensive backfield. Between McKenzie’s time and Moss’ time, the Raiders switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense. However, Moss has coached the linebackers in the Packers’ 3-4 defense for the past six seasons.

While Moss was the assistant head coach in Green Bay, his defensive coordinator has been Dom Capers, who has lately been mentioned as another top candidate for the Raiders’ head coaching position. Capers has been a head coach twice in the NFL but without much success.

Capers seems to be the guy teams want to start their franchises with, which has contributed somewhat to his poor record as a head coach. He was the coach of the Carolina Panthers in their inaugural season and coached there for five years. Then in 2002, he was brought in as the guinea pig for the newly formed Houston Texans. He was given four years in Houston before being fired there as well.

It is difficult to judge Capers on his record because of the ill-fated situations in which he was placed. But to his credit, he took the Panthers to the NFC Championship in just their second season of existence. He has a respectable 30-34 record with the Panthers with nothing but castoff youth with which to work. His time in Houston was marred by a terrible offensive line and David Carr as their number one pick to start out the franchise. If McKenzie chooses to go with Capers for the Raiders’ fresh start, I would trust his judgment.

If Moss or Capers assumes the head coaching job, they could very well bring a coach or a few from the Packers’ staff along with them. Several names have been bandied about from that staff. If Capers is given the head coaching position, there is still a possibility that Moss could come along as the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

On the offensive side of the ball, Tom Clements is the Packers’ quarterbacks coach and his name has been mentioned as the Raiders’ next offensive coordinator. He has held the position with the Packers for six seasons, and is credited with the development of All Pro quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Under offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, the Packers have run a West Coast offense which means we could see the same in Oakland if he is hired.

Clements has been an offensive coordinator once before in his career for two seasons in Buffalo (2004-2005). In his first season, with Drew Bledsoe as his quarterback, the Bills went 9-7. The next season, with the QB position in flux, the team dropped to 5-11 and the entire staff was gutted.

Darren Perry has been mentioned as a possible for the Raiders’ defensive coordinator position. He has been the Packers’ secondary coach for the past three seasons. Prior to that he was the defensive backs coach for the Raiders and prior to that he was with the Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers. This means that in his 10 year coaching career, he has been on two Super Bowl winning teams.

Other coaches out there not on the Packers’ staff include Dolphins interim head coach Todd Bowles, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, former Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio, former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, and Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Del Rio, Spagnuolo, and Nolan would be considered more as defensive coordinators than head coaches.

But regardless of where the Raiders look for their head coaching position, the decision was not going to be made until McKenzie did his due diligence. And that diligence included one or more of the Packers’ current staff. Now that their season is over, the interviews will begin post haste and the Raiders’ coaching staff will begin filling out. Starting with the head coach.

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About Levi Damien, Senior Writer

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