Maligned Ex-Raiders Coach Hired by Cowboys After 2-Season Hiatus

paul guenther


Paul Guenther with Damon Arnette.

Prior to the 2023 season, the Las Vegas Raiders consistently had one of the worst defenses in the NFL for two decades. In that time, they cycled through many defensive coordinators.

One of the most maligned was Paul Guenther, who was one of the big assistants Jon Gruden hired upon getting the head coach job in 2018. Guenther was fired after the 2020 season and hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2021.

After two seasons away, Guenther is coming back. According to a February 16 X post from ESPN’s Todd Archer, the veteran coach is joining the Dallas Cowboys as a run game coordinator under new defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.

Another familiar face for new DC Mike Zimmer: Paul Guenther is joining the staff as run game coordinator, a source said. He was with Zimmer in Cincinnati and Minnesota. He was the Bengals’ (post Zimmer) and Raiders’ coordinator as well.

Zimmer and Guenther go way back. The former was the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals while Guenther was on the staff. Zimmer even brought the coach to the Minnesota Vikings when he was the head coach.

Guenther was a respected defensive coach before he went to the Raiders. The Raiders didn’t finish better than 24th in points allowed during Guenther’s three years with the team. However, Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in the NFL and clearly trusts the coach. This could be the chance for him to turn things around and work his way back toward another defensive coordinator job.

Maxx Crosby Happy to Have Patrick Graham Back

After years of cycling through defensive coordinators who haven’t been able to turn the defense around, the Raiders finally found a coach in Patrick Graham who was able to have success. Las Vegas finished ninth in points allowed per game (19.5), which is the best the team has finished since 2002.

For his work, Graham got a couple of head coaching interviews this offseason but wasn’t able to land a job. He’s now going to stick with the Raiders for another season and star defensive end Maxx Crosby is very happy about that.

“It’s huge,” Crosby said of the Raiders retaining Graham in a recent interview with Heavy Sports. “It’s very important. I mean, Pat has been incredible. Pat’s a great coach, and he knows his stuff. He’s a leader. People love him. Me and him have a special relationship. I can’t even explain. It’s not even like a coach-player relationship, like me and him are friends, you know what I mean? We have real conversations, and it’s helped me in my career, but it’s helped him as well, I believe, and, we have a special relationship. We give each other advice, and we both want greatness for each other. And so I push him that way. He wants that for me, as well. So I got nothing but respect for the dude. He’s a great coach. I could go on and on, but Pat’s a special dude.”

Patrick Graham May Not Be a DC for Much Longer

This isn’t the first hiring cycle in which Patrick Graham has received head coaching interviews and likely won’t be the last. If he can get the Raiders to finish with a top-10 defense for a second-straight year, it’s hard to imagine another team doesn’t poach him for the head job.

The Raiders would be happy to keep him for as long as possible but can’t stop him from taking a promotion. This is going to be a big season for Graham if he hopes to be a head coach.

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