A look at Oakland Raiders DC Paul Guenther’s track record

(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Here is a look at Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s track record, and why he might be on the hot seat.

After surrendering 69 points and 869 yards in back-to-back losses, many have questioned if Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is the right man for the job. The skepticism surrounding the coach is certainly warranted as defense appears to be the team’s weakest link.

Guenther was handpicked by head coach Jon Gruden to lead the defense, and the coordinator left Cincinnati on his own terms to join the Silver and Black. Ever since his hiring, Oakland has made personnel decisions with the coach’s scheme in mind.

Now the question persists, is the defensive coordinator’s scheme worth building around? We took a look at the last six seasons to see where he stacks up.

The table below shows how defenses have fared with Guenther as the coordinator.

Year      Team     Total Yds NFL Rank Passing Yds NFL Rank Rushing Yds  NFL Rank
2014   Bengals    5749            22              3888              20               1861                20
2015   Bengals    5453            11              3976              20               1477                 7
2016   Bengals    5612            17              3800              11               1812                21
2017   Bengals    5425            18              3379                8                2046               30
2018   Raiders     6102            26              3853              19               2249               30
2019* Raiders     2647            25              1997               30                650                 9

*Through seven games. All information is gathered from ProFootballRefernce.com.

In four seasons with the Guenther at the helm, the Bengals defense never managed to finish in the top 10 for total yards allowed. Also, the team ranked in the bottom half of the league in three out of four seasons. Statistics like these beg the question, why did Gruden covet the coordinator so much?

Part of the answer is personal relationships as Guenther coached with Jon’s brother Jay in Cincinnati, so the defensive guru had likely gained “Chucky’s” trust already. Gruden’s confidence is somewhat justified as the Bengals defense finished in the top 10 for points allowed twice (2015 and 2016) under Guenther.

The coordinator uses a “bend but don’t break” philosophy, however, there seems to be a lot of “break” during his time in Oakland. Last season the team ranked dead last in points allowed, and this year isn’t much better with the Silver and Black ranking 28th in that category.

As mentioned above, Guenther and his scheme have been an integral piece to the make-up of the Raiders roster. Back in April, this thought process reared its head during the draft.

The team shocked the football world by taking edge defender Clelin Ferrell number four overall in favor of Josh Allen, who many thought would be the selection. Part of the rationale for this surprising move is the organization and Guenther felt the former was a better fit in the defensive system. At this point, that decision looks like the wrong one since pass rush was the team’s biggest offseason need, and Ferrell has managed one sack while Allen has seven.

It is well documented that the former linebackers coach does not value the position, and unsurprisingly Azeem Victor, a sixth-round pick, is the only backer Oakland has drafted in two years. However, Guenther did “pound the table” to sign Vontaze Burfict, who ultimately was suspended for the year due to an illegal hit. Given Burfict’s past, the hit and suspension aren’t exactly out of character, and leaves the Raiders defense with a void in the middle.

Of course, the defensive coordinator shouldn’t and doesn’t shoulder all the blame for personnel decisions, Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock deserve some flak as well. However, with six picks in the first four rounds, the upcoming draft is significant for the future of the franchise. With so much riding on the team’s picks in April, Gruden and Mayock need to decide if it makes sense to continue making selections based on Guenther’s scheme?

So far, the scheme hasn’t worked out and if the defense doesn’t start to turn it around, the answer to that question could be no.

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