The Oakland Raiders had one of the worst defensive lines of all time in 2018 after trading Khalil Mack, recording just 13 sacks total on the season, by far the worst in all of football.
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock knew that was something they needed to address last offseason, and they did so by drafting two defensive ends: Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick and Maxx Crosby in the fourth round.
Additionally, Gruden hired Brentson Buckner to be his new defensive line coach. Buckner had experience in that role with both the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, making him a very logical candidate for a young defensive line looking to improve.
Those changes seemed to do the trick as the Raiders’ defensive front was much better in 2019. They had 32 sacks, which moved them up from 32nd in the league to 25th, and they went from 30th to eighth in rushing yards allowed.
Despite the improvements, it appears that was not enough for Buckner to keep his job. Jim Trotter of NFL Media is reporting that he is being let go and will be replaced by Rod Marinelli:
Raiders coach Jon Gruden has fired respected defensive line coach Brenston Buckner and is expected to replace him with Rod Marinelli. Under Buckner, the Raiders improved from 13 sacks in 2018 to 32 this year, and from 30th against the run to 8th.
— Jim Trotter (@JimTrotter_NFL) January 14, 2020
Buckner then took to social media to confirm that he will not be returning to the Raiders as they get set to move to Las Vegas:
God doesn't make mistakes. When He decides my time is up, I don't question it. I was blessed to coach a great group of Raiders. I had the pleasure of experiencing RAIDER NATION! I'm appreciative for Gruden blessing me with that opportunity!#FAITHBEFOREFAME 1love! No hate
— Brentson Buckner (@faithbeforefame) January 14, 2020
While it is unfortunate to see a genuinely good person like Buckner being let go, Gruden and Marinelli have a history together, so the move doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
Marinelli has been coaching since the 1970s and in the NFL since the 1990s. He served as the defensive line coach for the Buccaneers under Gruden from 2002-05 where they won a Super Bowl together before being named head coach of the Detroit Lions.
He most recently was the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys, although the firing of Jason Garrett marked the end of his tenure there and paved the way for him to reunite with Gruden in Las Vegas.
Having someone with as much experience as Marinelli should only benefit the Raiders’ young pass rushers as the hope is that both Ferrell and Crosby will make another leap in 2020 after solid rookie seasons.