Oakland Raiders: What if John Defilippo Becomes Offensive Coordinator?

Jimmy Hal – Jan 7, 2013

When the Oakland Raiders fired offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, it seemed like every Raider fan reached for the heavens in joy as if a miracle had been displayed all across Raider Nation. I understand completely. Knapp's hiring in the first place was beyond a mistake. A mistake this franchise already made five years ago. For a team that was embarking on a "new era", going into the past, perhaps the darkest times of the past for a coordinator of the future was just crazy.

I completely understand why fans wanted head coach Dennis Allen's head(although I am still a supporter of his overall). The offense wasn't broken, and he tried to fix it with the wrong tools.

Now, the Raiders are looking for the next offensive coordinator that can be a legitimate part of this coaching staff for a long period of time. Some believe that guy is in house in Al Saunders who was an offensive consultant in 2012 and the offensive coordinator in 2011 under Hue Jackson. Then, Darren McFadden was on pace to have his best year in his career.

I have a lot of respect for Saunders. He has had success as a coordinator in the early parts of the decade with the Kansas City Chiefs and was apart of the coaching staff of the "Greatest show on Turf". However, the only concern I have with Saunders is that he has never been known as a great play caller and with a defensive minded head coach in Allen, I believe the offensive coordinator needs to be a guy who has that pedigree.

However, if the Raiders feel comfortable going with a coach without that particular piece of experience, and are willing to basically give a guy a chance(which is basically what they would be doing with Saunders), it should be a coach on the rise. I believe the Raiders have a coach like that as well.

One thing that went unsung was that Knapp was not the only one to make a return to Oakland. Along with Knapp came his previous quarterbacks coach from his first stint, John Defilippo.

Defilippo may be considered an unknown prospect. Unless you dig deep, it would be hard to see the potential. Especially when you consider how bad the first stint went when he was the quarterbacks coach. So much so, that you may want to consider what Defilippo has done without the influence of Knapp.

Before becoming an assistant coach for the Raiders in 2007, Defilippo was an offensive quality control coach for the New York Giants from  2005-06. After his time with the Raiders he would be a quarterbacks coach for the New York Jets in 2009. In 2010-11, Defilippo would return to the bay area and be a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the San Diego State Spartans before returning to the Raiders in 2012.

So lets really break that down.

In 2005-06, Defilippo would be under the offensive minds of Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin while being in the presence of a young Eli Manning. Manning would win a Super Bowl in 2007. In 2009 Defilippo was helping tutor a young Marc Sanchez in what is considered his best year of his career, where the Jets made it to the AFC Championship game.

In 2010, Defilppo's time as San Jose State's QB coach he helped groom Ryan Lindley over two years. Lindley was considered a solid late round quarterback prospect. Lindley has not worked out in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, but then neither did Kevin Kolb and he got a multi-million dollar deal.

In 2011, Defilippo was promoted to offensive coordinator. There he was in charge of an offense that they still employ today despite Defilippo's absence. That offense ranks 36th overall and 9th in passing in the nation.

So that is his resume outside of oakland. It is not a secret nor a coincidence that Defilippo has has struggled under Knapp yet has seemed to make a respectable name for himself otherwise.

To his credit, it would have been hard for any quarterbacks coach to have success with an aging Daunte CulPepper, a journeyman Josh McCown, a bitter Andrew Walter and a lazy Jamarcus Russell.

The second time around went a bit smoother despite overall struggles. A veteran Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and an eager Terrelle Pryor has been a much better crop of signal callers.

It is hard to decipher what a 34 year old Defilippo has offered to a 33 year old Palmer. But his works with Pryor have been crystal clear. Pryor was the definition of raw last off-season, and Dennis Allen kept reiterating that Pryor was not ready to start an NFL game.

/articleimages/pryor-leinart-defiliippo.jpgHowever, Pryor kept working and despite Pryor's praise of Palmer it was Defilippo who ironed out the wrinkles over time. When Pryor finally got his chance in week 17, he showed enough ability to basically steal Matt Leinart's job, (keep in mind this will be the second time in two years Leinart would have his job taken by the No.3 QB....WOW).

Keep this in mind as well. During the final month of the regular season Defilppo's name was considered a hot one for the soon to be head coaching vacancy for San Jose State in the Western Athletic Conference(WAC). The WAC is not exactly the SEC but it has produced a lot of solid football and football players.

So there are other people who notice Defilippo's talents and it is note worthy that with Knapp being fired, his QB coach remained unlike last time. So have the Raiders found a hidden gem? Could he be another Jim Harbaugh?

That is not too far-fetched at all when you compare their early careers. Harbaugh was the Raiders QB coach from 2002-03 before becoming head coach of San Diego State another school in the WAC. Harbaugh would then go to Standford and now is recognized as the playoff bound San Francisco 49ers.

So if the Raiders were to take a chance, would it be hard to believe it would be on Defilippo? A guy who knows these quarterbacks as well as anyone. A guy whose own offensive philosophy is based on power running and vertical passing. A guy who was groomed by coordinators and head coaches of the same style.

It sounds weird, it sound like a leap. But when you break it down, not really.

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