The NFL coaching dominoes are starting to fall as teams construct their respective staffs. A day after the Oakland Raiders added Bill Musgrave to their staff as offensive coordinator, they named Brad Seely the new special teams coordinator.
Seely, who comes across the Bay from the San Francisco 49ers, takes the place of Bobby April, who held the position for the last two seasons. Under April, the Raiders struggled in both kick return and kick coverage. With rookie corner back T.J. Carrie, the return game finally started to have some life, but mostly due to Carrie, not due to quality blocking on the return team. With Seely, the Raiders hope to upgrade all aspects of their special teams, starting with kick returns. Starting field position for the Raiders has been terrible for years and given the ineptitude of the offense in 2014, they can use all of the help they can get.
Seely’s units were up and down in his years with the 49ers, who tried to develop kick and punt returners after the departure of Ted Ginn with limited success. The “Tony Montana Squad” was a strength in 2011, then they gave up an enormous touchdown in the Super Bowl a year later (although 49ers fans complain about the Ravens getting away with a hold on Bruce Miller during Jacoby Jones’ kickoff return). Seely also served as an assistant head coach, and led practice in place of Jim Harbaugh when Harbaugh suffered a heart episode during the 2012 season.
But before the team and its fans could start to digest the special teams hire, it was announced that they would be losing quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. While with the Raiders, DeFilippo has been credited with helping develop Derek Carr, who had one of the best years of any rookie quarterback in the NFL. He was also credited with making both Terrelle Pryor and Matt McGloin look much better than anyone expected a year ago. There were not many coaches on the Raiders staff who were worth keeping around, but DeFilippo was one of them. His presence would have provided continuity for Carr, which would have been a big help in continuing his growth as a player.
The Raiders still have a lot of coaching positions that need to be filled. DeFilippo’s position needs to be replaced with someone who can keep Carr on the right track. They also still need to find a defensive coordinator along with a litany of other position coaches, including but not limited to defensive line coach and defensive backs coach. So far, the staff already looks better than it has in years and with so many important positions yet to be named, there is still room for things to get better.