After getting off to a red-hot 3-0 start to the season and seeing quarterback Derek Carr placed in the MVP conversation, the Las Vegas Raiders have now seen the wheels fall off with a two-game losing streak and the organization desperately gasping for air in the wake of league-wide revelations regarding Jon Gruden. Following backlash from leaked emails that showed he used a racial trope toward NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and additional ones unveiled on Monday by The New York Times — the latter bringing years of both his homophobic and misogynistic language to the forefront as well — Gruden resigned, and the Raiders named Rich Bisaccia as interim head coach.
Suffering such a tectonic shift going into Week 6 of the regular season will be difficult to overcome as they prepare to visit the rival Denver Broncos, but they’re hoping Bisaccia can hit the ground running and right the ship. He’s certainly not lacking for experience, and will have a solid chance at seeing his interim tag removed in 2022, if he can weather the current category five PR hurricane in Las Vegas and the fact they’re trending in the wrong direction in the win-loss column.
Bisaccia, 61, moves up from his role as Raiders special teams coordinator — a position he signed on for in 2018 before also being tabbed as assistant head coach for Gruden. He spent half a decade with as the special teams coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys before heading to Oakland/Las Vegas, where he also carried the title of assistant head coach for Jason Garrett. Bisaccia’s coaching experience at the NFL level goes back to 2002, as special teams coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is where he and Gruden formed their relationship.
Bisaccia also took on the role of running backs coach and, you guessed it, assistant head coach in his time with the Buccaneers, part of a coaching staff that won Super Bowl XXXVII under Gruden. So when Gruden accepted the position as head coach of the Raiders four years ago, he reached out to Bisaccia and poached him away from the Cowboys.
Bisaccia’s background in coaching didn’t begin at the NFL level, though. He began his coaching journey in the collegiate ranks back in 1983, working as defensive backs coach and special teams coach for Wayne State, before taking his talents to South Carolina for several seasons and then on to Clemson and ultimately Ole Miss — each position containing a mix of special teams work along with varying degrees of work with tight ends, running backs and wide receivers.
It’s a wealth of experience for a coach who is also a former defensive back himself, and one that must now intercept the PR nightmare left behind by Gruden and attempt to turn an entire organization around with no time to spare.