From Al Davis to Josh McDaniel: The Evolution of the Raiders’ Coaching Legacy

by Andy Stitzer
2021 Fantasy Football Targets and Touches Week 3

The Las Vegas Raiders have established a formidable legacy in the NFL, boasting three Super Bowl championships. Anchored by their distinctive style of play, which originated under the leadership of their esteemed owner and first head coach, Al Davis, the team has maintained a fierce competitive spirit throughout the years, persisting despite changes in coaching personnel.

This article delves into the rich evolution of the Raiders' coaching legacy, exploring their commitment to the tagline "Just win, baby," which encapsulates their relentless drive for success. We will examine critical coaches and their contributions while highlighting the team's overall success during each era. Interestingly, the team was recently analyzed on NFL preseason odds by PickBoss to determine their prospect in the upcoming season.

The Al Davis Era (1963-1989)

The Raiders hired Davis in 1963 to serve as general manager and head coach. During this time, he successfully implemented the "vertical passing attack," which involved making long throws to put the opposing defense at a disadvantage.

Al Davis' unique style of play promoted the team to championship contenders. His time at the helm of affairs produced three Super Bowl Championships thanks to his exciting style of play and commitment to seeing the team win.

The Post Al Davis Era (1990-1997)

The transitional period following Al Davis's exit from active coaching duties saw various coaches come and go making significant contributions to the team. But they failed to outperform Davis' achievements. Some of the coaches that served during this period include Mike Shanahan and Art Shell.

Shana had a brief tenure focused on developing a more assertive offensive style of play and balanced attacks. Shell helped bring a sense of stability to the club and continued the competitive system. However, the team was highly affected by poor performances during playoffs.

The Jon Gruden Era (1998-2001)

Jon Gruden assumed the head coaching role, bringing renewed success to the Raiders. He implemented the Gruden Grinder system, emphasizing toughness, attention to detail, and hard work. Under his guidance, the team became one of the NFL's most potent offensive sides, renowned for their aggressive passing attack.

The Bill Callahan and Norv Turner Years (2002-2005)

After Gruden's departure, Bill Callahan took the helm as an offensive-minded coach. The team experienced considerable success under his leadership, culminating in a Super Bowl appearance, albeit falling short against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Norv Turner succeeded Callahan, continuing the team's offensive prowess. However, the Raiders faced inconsistent performance and motivation challenges during Turner's tenure.

The Art Shell and Lane Kiffin Years (2006-2008)

Art Shell returned as head coach in 2006 but struggled to replicate his previous success. The team faced internal conflicts and underperformed. In 2007, Lane Kiffin became the youngest head coach in the NFL, injecting a fresh approach and implementing a modern, improved offensive system.

Kiffin's tenure showed promise, with the team displaying signs of growth and improvement. However, internal conflicts and disagreements ultimately led to his departure, marking another transition for the Raiders.

The Tom Cable and Hue Jackson Years (2008-2011)

Tom Cable took over as head coach, bringing a strict and physical style of play to the team. He focused on building a robust offensive line to establish dominance on the field. Under his leadership, the Raiders succeeded, culminating in an AFC West division championship. However, the team struggled to maintain consistency, hindering their long-term success.

Hue Jackson succeeded Cable, bringing his dynamic coaching style and aggressive, offensive system to the team. The Raiders experienced significant success during Jackson's tenure, but their playoff aspirations eluded them.

The Dennis Allen and Jack Del Rio Years (2012-2017)

Dennis Allen was tasked with rebuilding a faltering Raiders team, prioritizing player development and cohesion. Despite encountering obstacles along the way, Allen managed to establish a solid foundation for future advancements of the team.

Following Allen's tenure, Jack Del Rio assumed the leadership role and infused the team with renewed vigor and positivity. In 2016, Del Rio steered the Raiders towards their initial playoff participation in over a decade, demonstrating their capacity to contend among the elite.

The Current Era: Jon Gruden and Josh McDaniel (2018-present)

A key component of Gruden's coaching philosophy is hard work, attention to detail, and toughness, which is in perfect alignment with the Raiders' longtime commitment to excellence. The performance of the team has significantly improved with his new offensive schemes and play-calling strategies.

Since McDaniel has become a prominent part of the Raiders' offense, the team has been renowned for its aggressive passing attack and flexibility. The team’s overall performance has improved significantly under Gruden and McDaniel because of their rebirth of the team's strategy.

A significant improvement in performance can be attributed to Gruden and McDaniel's ability to develop players and create team chemistry.

Gruden and McDaniel have tailored their offensive strategies to adapt to the ever-changing NFL landscape. By using innovative personnel usage, misdirection, and creative play designs, Raiders' modern and dynamic approach forces opposing defenses to constantly adjust, giving the Raiders the opportunity to take advantage of any mismatches and score crucial points.

The Raiders' coaching team has a positive outlook amidst this era. Gruden's expertise and track record, along with McDaniel's innovative methods, have formed a strong foundation for future accomplishments. With further strategy refinement and roster development, the Raiders are prepared to make a significant impact in the NFL and add to their impressive coaching legacy.


The Raiders' coaching history is a testament to innovation, success, and perseverance that spans many decades. Each coach, from Al Davis to Jon Gruden and Josh McDaniel, has played a significant role in the team's legendary reputation.

Under the leadership of Gruden and McDaniel, the Raiders are embarking on a new era in their history. They are unwavering in their dedication to excellence and growth, always striving to dominate the NFL. With their vast knowledge, cutting-edge offensive strategies, and commitment to player development, the Raiders are primed for sustained success and the opportunity to expand upon their already illustrious coaching legacy.

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