If the Raiders intend on competing, effective defense needs to rank high among the list of priorities. With that said, Paul Guenther needs to have a great season. In order to keep his job, the defense must improve. Within the AFC West, talented defensive coordinators run at a premium. FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria and Pete Camarillo rank the defensive coordinators.


  1. Gus Bradley
  2. Ed Donatell
  3. Paul Guenther
  4. Steve Spagnuolo


With Derwin James, Desmond King and now Nas Adderley, Bradley has the makings of a brutal secondary that will allow him to get even more creative with the pass rush. That’s why he’s tops in the AFC West.

Ed Donatell benefits greatly from coming over with new boss Vic Fangio. Fangio is a taskmaster of a defensive genius and Donatell — quality in his own right — gets to continue the relationship they had in Chicago in Denver.

Paulie G schemes with a  sound mind, but he didn’t have all the ingredients he needed last season. It’s valid to question whether that changes thisseason. Until his players grasp his schemes and prove it, he remains in middle of the pack.

Spagnuolo takes command of a unit that wasn’t sound last year, but did add key pieces — Frank Clark. That said. Spagnuolo isn’t any better than prior DC Bob Sutton so bottom of the barrel.


Gus Bradley is by far the No. 1 defensive coordinator as he is the only incumbent not named Paulie G. Bradley is credited with building the foundation for the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom as a D.C. as well as developing some of the players for the Jaguars great defense in 2017 because he was head coach the prior seasons. L.A.C was top 10 in fewest points and yards allowed per game last season and in the top half of the league in 2017.

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Kansas City

After that, it is probably Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuola who spent last year out of the league. He’s the only other D.C. with NFL head coaching experience. It is a few lousy and mediocre seasons as head coach and interim head coach with the Rams, Saints and Giants but it still counts. Spagnuola might be hirer if it weren’t for these bad years as he was vital to the Giants defense that upset the New England Patriots in 2007 as well as coming up in the assistant ranks on those great Philadelphia Eagles defenses in the early in the early 2000s.


Broncos coordinator Ed Donatell, who is a coach with nearly 30 years experience. He hasn’t been a defensive coordinator since holding the title for a mediocre Redskins team in 2008. Prior to that, he was D.C. for playoff teams in Green Bay and Atlanta. He won a Super Bowl with the Packers and fell out with the rest of that Falcons at the end of the Vick Era. He came up in the ranks via places like Cal State Fullerton and other colleges in the Western side of the States. You don’t stay around the league this long without knowing about football. He’s been an assistant on top defenses in Chicago, San Fran and Denver. However, there’s a reason he hasn’t been a head coach either. Further, I expect Broncos head coach Vic Fangio to lead a lot of the defense. That’s why he can’t get ranked higher.


Finally, there’s Paul Guenther for the Raiders in the last spot. Guenther doesn’t have nearly the pedigree of the men mentioned previously. This is only his second stop as defensive coordinator. Prior to this, he was with the Bengals where that team split playoff appearances over his tenure. This is only his third NFL team and he came up via various college assistant jobs before that. He needs adjacent proximity to a Super Bowl contending defense before moving up. At least get the Raiders in the playoff too.

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