Paul Guenther

Raiders DC Paul Guenther talks Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley and more

paul-guenther-raidres-dc.jpg
USATSI

Raiders DC Paul Guenther talks Khalil Mack, Gareon Conley and more

Paul Guenther hasn’t been Raiders defensive coordinator long. He has been in Alameda about a week now, interviewing potential position coaches and pouring over last year’s game tape.

He has some initial impressions on the group that struggled at the start and improved throughout the year. Generally speaking, however, Guenther sees talent on the roster.

“I believe there’s a lot of good players here, a lot of good, young players,” Guenther said Wednesday in a conference call. “You’ve got to get them out and develop them and get them to understand your system. But I think there are a lot of good pieces here for a foundation, for sure.”

Guenther’s system, where it came from and why he brought it to Oakland is a story for another day. Thursday morning, to be precise, so stay tuned for that.

Guenther’s early evaluation of key Raiders, however, supports his statement about a strong foundation. He is most excited, as you’d expect, about working with edge rusher Khalil Mack and several others in silver and black.

Here’s what Guenther said about…

-- DE KHALIL MACK: “Having a talent like that and ability of a guy like that, certainly you want to make it the centerpiece of the defense. We have to continue to develop our younger players to bring those guys up to speed and add people as we go through the draft and free agency. He’s a guy that you can really build a foundation through and around. He’s an exciting guy to be able to coach for sure.”

-- CB GAREON CONLEY: “He was my favorite corner coming out. His ability, he’s smooth in the pedal, he’s a good press corner, which we love to have. I’m excited to work with him.”

-- S OBI MELIFONWU: “Obi is a big guy that when you turn on the tape, you’re like, ‘Man, who is this son of a gun?’ He’s playing half the field, he’s down in the box playing the run.”

-- LB NAVORRO BOWMAN: (an impending free agent): “NaVorro is a prototype middle linebacker, really. The thing that impressed me most with NaVorro is that they got him here midseason and by the end of the year, it appeared to me that he was kind of the leader of the unit, making a lot of calls. You can see that on tape. It looks like he is a smart guy that understands the game. I love smart guys that love playing football. Hopefully we can get him back in the fold and keep him a Raider.”

Jon Gruden's words on Raiders' three new top coordinators

gruden-scowl-ap.jpg
AP

Jon Gruden's words on Raiders' three new top coordinators

Jon Gruden announced his three chief assistants Tuesday during his formal introduction as Raiders head coach. The team made those moves official on Friday afternoon.

Paul Guenther will coordinate this Raiders defense. Greg Olson returns as offensive coordinator, the same post he held from 2013-14. Rich Bisaccia will run Gruden’s special teams, as he did for seven years in Tampa Bay.

These guys were all a first choice. He brought them in with four-year contracts, double the industry standard.

Gruden also gave a hint as to why he hired each guy.

Gruden on Guenther: “I met Paul Guenther when my brother (Jay Gruden) was the offensive coordinator of the Bengals. I loved the way the Bengals played defense. Up the field, single gap, get after you. Mike Zimmer, who left Cincinnati and went to Minnesota. I think we all agree they’re quite a defensive team. He’s a great teacher. He’s been able to get a lot of players. Vontaze Burfict, undrafted out of Arizona State, became a star player. He can coach coaches. He can coach a lot of different situations to a high level.”

Gruden on Olson: “Greg Olson coached Derek Carr for a year here. His intel there will be very important. He coached with me in Tampa and he coached with Sean McVay, one of my ex-assistants, in LA. So, the system of football that we run will be a real natural flow.”

Gruden on Bisaccia: “He’s a versatile coach. He coached two positions for me in Tampa. He was a running backs coach and a special teams coach. Great leader of men. He’ll do an outstanding job here.”

Gruden has focused on hiring a coaching staff this week, with interviews lined up all week.

Here are some reported hires made but not yet announced:

-- Frank Smith is expected to be tight ends coach, NFL insider Adam Caplan reports. Bobby Johnson manned that post under Jack Del Rio, and was interviewed for the head coaching vacancy to meet the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

-- Derrick Ansley will coach defensive backs, ESPN reports. He coached the same position at Alabama.

-- Former Colts running backs coach Jemal Singleton will lead Raiders rushers, according to NFL Network.

-- Nick Holz, the assistant receivers coach under Del Rio, is expected to be retained by Gruden’s staff, Caplan reports.