Raiders Should Return to the Al Davis Model and Hire One of These Four as their Next Head Coach

When it came to hiring coaches, Al Davis certainly had a type: young, offensive-minded, and cheap.

Mike Shanahan was hired at age 35 and went on to win 100+ games. Jon Gruden was first hired at age 34 and also went on to win 100+ games. Lane Kiffin was hired at age 31 and went on to… make an overhead projector infamous. You can’t win them all.

Despite Kiffin’s failure, Al’s preference was not only shrewd, it was ahead of its time. Many of today’s smarter organizations have replicated it to great success: Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, Kliff Kingsbury and Matt LaFluer were all offensive coaches hired at 40 or younger. Meanwhile, Chargers coach Brandon Staley is a former college quarterback, only 38, and appears to be the best coaching hire of the last cycle.

So young and offensive-minded should probably be the template.

And with the Vegas money rolling in — and a certain $100M contract seemingly off the books — Mark Davis should be able to eliminate cheap from his father’s archetype.

Luckily for the Raiders, there is a strong group of candidates who fit the bill.

The Best: Joe Brady | Panthers Offensive Coordinator

Joe Brady certainly fits the Al Davis model: He’s only 32 years old and has had impressive offensive success at every stop.

The improvement of his last three quarterbacks has been astounding:

Quarterback Improvement Under Joe Brady*

Completion %57.8% to 76.3%67.9% to 69.1%59.6% to 65.6%
Yards Per Attempt7.6 to 10.87.1 to 7.66.1 to 7.5
QBR 78.4 to 94.950.9 to 64.240.1 to 51.5

*Stats are a player’s last season before Joe Brady and their first season with Joe Brady.

While those results speak for themselves, Brady’s expertise expands beyond just quarterback play. He’s also a fantastic playcaller. Heading into this season, PFF ranked him as the fifth-best playcaller in the NFL, ahead of noted offensive gurus like Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan.

The lone “knock” against Brady is an off-the-field, gossipy and mostly irrelevant one: he is allegedly lackluster when interviewing for the job. With his resume, though, who cares how charismatic he is in the interview room or how firm his handshake is?

Give me the candidate who oversaw Joe Burrow’s development from mid-round prospect into the #1-overall pick, salvaged the career of Sam Darnold and is already a top-five playcaller in the NFL.

In a league that rewards quarterback play and offensive playcalling, Joe Brady should have gotten a head-coaching job last season. But that mistake by the NFL could be the Raiders gain.

If the Raiders, however, choose to go in a different direction — or are beaten to the Joe Brady punch — there are other attractive options that fit the template.

Brian Daboll | Bills Offensive Coordinator

At 46, Daboll is the oldest coach on this list, but he very well may be the most innovative.

In his 3+ years as the Bills Offensive Coordinator, he’s evolved the offense to match the strength of his players. A rare trait in a league that all too often tries to ram square pegs into round holes.

For 2021, that innovation has meant an increased use of the spread offense:

*Chart via PFF’s article The evolution of Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen and Brian Daboll’s offense

Daboll’s flexibility on offense, development of quarterback Josh Allen and PFF ranking as the league’s second-best playcaller make him a fantastic head-coaching candidate.

Byron Leftwich | Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator

What has 41-year-old Byron Leftwich achieved in his 3 years as offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay? Only the following:

  • Coordinated the top two passing offenses in team history… with two different quarterbacks.
  • Helmed PFF’s number-two ranked pass offense in 2020 and number-one ranked pass offense this season.
  • Won a Lombardi Trophy.

Not too shabby.

And how is he as a leader? He was only so tough to have played on a broken leg and so beloved by his teammates to be carried down the field:

Chuck Naso on Twitter: “Byron Leftwich getting carried downfield in college while playing with a broken leg is an all time football guy moment / Twitter”

Byron Leftwich getting carried downfield in college while playing with a broken leg is an all time football guy moment

Inspiring leader, young and one of PFF’s top-six playcallers. Bruce Arians was right to be “pissed” that Leftwich got zero interviews last offseason. The team that lands him next offseason should be in great hands.

Kellen Moore | Cowboys Offensive Coordinator

Kellen Moore is only 33 and already on his third season coordinating Dallas’ offense. That’s a remarkable feat in its own right.

Even more remarkable is the performance of his offenses:

  • 2019 PFF offense rank: 5th
  • 2020 PFF offense rank: 25th*
  • 2021 PFF offense rank: 1st

*With Andy Dalton at quarterback for majority of the season.

Aside from high marks from PFF, what makes Moore special is two-fold: Like Daboll, Moore customizes his scheme to match his players’ talents and like Leftwich, he’s a former NFL quarterback who commands respect.

The fact that Dallas retained Kellen Moore — and his offensive system — when hiring a new head coach speaks volumes. They clearly see his talent as important to their team success. Dallas would be wise to consider promoting him, but if they choose not to, another team will benefit.

Final Thoughts

The next coach of the Raiders will be inheriting the following situation:

  • $52M+ in 2022 cap space, 9th most in the NFL
  • The final season on Derek Carr’s current contract
  • A division with two top-ten quarterbacks (Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert) and coaches (Andy Reid and Brandon Staley)

It’s therefore imperative that the Raiders hire someone that can pair elite offensive strategy with a track record of developing a quarterback. My personal preference is Joe Brady, but any of the four above would be slam-dunk hires.

Twitter: @TravisGilkeson


14 thoughts on “Raiders Should Return to the Al Davis Model and Hire One of These Four as their Next Head Coach

  1. Come on, Jim Harbaugh should be the pick for coach. Tough players coach — his players loved him. Success in Pro ranks until 49er’s submarined him (Can’t imagine he has any love left for 49ers — always a good thing as a Raider HC). was one of the most sought after coaches before he went to the 49ers. Was an assistant Raider Coach with huge ties to the Bay Area. Perfect pick.

    1. I agree that Harbaugh has the track record, but even if he left his alma mater I’d prefer a young offensive mind over a retread. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      1. Travis, I’m glad you brought up Al Davis. It seems forgotten in this story is the insult of this situation to the legacy of Al Davis. Davis was one of, if not, the most progressive owner the NFL has ever had. Still don’t know why the rule requiring interviewing minority candidates is called the “Rooney Rule” and not the “Davis Rule.” Davis hired the first African-American coach in the modern era when he hired Art Shell. He hired the first Latino coach in Tom Flores. He hired the first woman in a top managerial and executive position in Amy Trask, and he was aggressive in going after and signing black players from HBCU’s before it was popular. People need to look at the history of the organization before excoriated its legacy because of Gruden’ conduct or Mark Davis’ supposedly slow response….

  2. Id put much money down that Mark Davis will hire a minority. Skin color and sex will be THE top qualifications for Mark. The irony will be that that is completely opposite of what his father did.

    1. Honorable mention sounds right to me. While I don’t think Bieniemy would be a bad choice, he didn’t make my list because of the mixed success of Andy Reid OCs (most recently Nagy) and because Reid calls the plays. I think a coach with play-calling experience should be a top qualification.

    2. He will most likely get one of these new HC positions. I like coach EB but I really like Byron Leftwich and his play calling. We want to win a Superbowl and why not the guy who just dialed up the offense and won a Superbowl

  3. Al Davis ruined this franchise, stop with the love affair with him..From the 60′ to the mid 80’s he was good but had the great Ron Wolf working with him.
    Know history on this franchise..

    The Raiders will have their pick at who they hire, believe me..Nobody wanted the job when AL was alive..A great HC like Bill Parcells never wanted it because of Al’s meddling.

    Al ran the defense and only allowed the HC to run the offense.

    1. Despite any meddling, Al had a real eye for talent at the head-coaching position. He hired Shanahan and Gruden, tried to hire Sean Payton a year before the Saints did… all while they were young and mostly unknown. That view of grabbing up-and-coming offensive minds is working throughout the NFL now and is a trend the Raiders should not ignore imo. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  4. If you think Bieniemy might get it check out the mess at Colorado when he was there not only as a coach but as a player. If they shitcanned Gruden for remarks from 10 years ago what do you think they’ll do to Bieniemy? Rapes, accusations of physical violence towards women. From now on EVERYBODY will have the media Gestapo and its snitches sneaking around looking in garbage cans and everywhere else to dig up dirt.

  5. Man O Man. Started 3-0 lost 2 straight and now we don’t have a head coach. As long as we KEEP Gus Bradley we most def have to go offensive Cor route. I love Joe Brady as a play caller not so much as a HEAD COACH not yet. Cowboys will fire McCarthy before they let Kellen Moore leave Dallas. So my choice……BYRON LEFTWICH!!! First off not because he’s black simply because his offensive play calling and him being a former QB he’ll mesh very well with DC4 and crew. A natural leader being a QB

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