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Who is Kris Richard? New Raiders DC Candidate Emerges

Noah Strang
Kris Richard Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator

Kris Richard decided to sit this entire season out after not receiving a coaching offer he liked but the recent news that he has interviewed with Las Vegas for the Raiders defensive coordinator position shows that he may make his return in the desert.

News broke on Friday that the Raiders had brought in Kris Richard to interview for the open defensive coordinator position. Richard was once one of the hottest coaching prospects in the sport but decided to take this season off after not receiving a job offer he liked. With Gus Bradley reported being the leading candidate for the Raiders defensive coordinator role, Richards’ interview creates an interesting dynamic.

Kris Richard spent considerable time learning from Pete Carroll and carried the scheme philosophies that he learned in Seattle to his other coaching stop in Dallas. He’s known for his infectious energy and connecting well with younger players which would suit the demographics of the Raiders roster well.

A Branch off the Pete Carroll Coaching Tree

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, right, speaks with defensive coordinator Kris Richard during the NFL football team’s minicamp Thursday, June 18, 2015, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Joe Nicholson)

While many of the candidates for the defensive coordinator position have ties back to Jon Gruden, Richard comes from a different coaching tree. He first got introduced to Pete Carroll as a player when Richard played at USC as a defensive back. After Richard had finished his playing career, he was reunited with Carroll back at his alma matter being hired as a graduate assistant coach in 2008.

When Carroll got hired to coach the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, Richard followed him to the professional ranks as an assistant defensive backs coach. The two would help turn the team into one of the most successful teams of the decade, winning one Super Bowl and losing another one in heartbreaking fashion.

The defense was a key part of the franchise’s extended success, especially the secondary which earned the moniker “The Legion of Boom” and which Richard had a large role in creating and maintaining. He continued to advance up the ranks of the coaching staff, moving from cornerbacks coach to defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator, a role he held from 2015-2017.

How Kris Richard Performed as a Defensive Coordinator

Let’s be clear, Kris Richard walked into a pretty plush job as the Seahawks had finished first in points allowed per game, as well as yards allowed per game in the two previous seasons. Granted he had been a major part of building that defense, but still, it was easier than having to step into a situation where he had to completely rebuild the culture.

In his first season he continued this streak of dominance, his Seahawks led the league in points allowed and were second in yards allowed. They allowed only a bit over seventeen points per game but over the coming years the defense would start to slip a bit.

Yards Per Game Allowed (Rank)Points Per Game Allowed (Rank)
Seahawks defense while Richard was coordinator

Their numbers started to fall because of their rushing defense as in 2017 they allowed 14 rushing touchdowns, seventh-worst in the league, but they had a few injuries to key players that year. When Kris Richard was fired after the 2017 season the decision was met with puzzled questions from many fans and media as they had been generally satisfied with his performance.

Moving to the Cowboys

Kris Richard Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator
Richard worked with Rod Marinelli in his time in Dallas.

It didn’t take long for Richard to get hired as he was picked up by the Dallas Cowboys to be their defensive passing game coordinator and help out in their secondary. He worked under Rod Marinelli, a man Raiders fans should be familiar with as he was the defensive line coach and interim-DC after Paul Guenther was fired this year.

Richard took a step back in terms of title during this switch but many of his responsibilities stayed the same, including the fact that he was the main play-caller in Dallas despite not being the DC.

While Richard and the Cowboys had a solid defense during this time, ranking middle of the pack in most metrics while having less talent than he did in Seattle, when the franchise decided to move on from Jason Garret he ended up as collateral damage.

Richard’s Sabbatical in 2020

“It’s kinda like knowing your worth, knowing your value…I wasn’t willing to take anything less than I am. I know what I am and I know what I am capable of,” said Richard to USA Today when discussing his decision to not coach in the NFL this season.

Richard clearly was looking for a higher position than he was offered before the season and decided that he’d rather wait for more to open up than accept something that he felt beneath him. Considering that he has made it very clear in the past that he wants to be a head coach one day, it would be hard to see Richard coming to Las Vegas as a position coach unless he felt sufficiently valued.

Despite the difficulty in convincing candidates to make horizontal moves, the best-case scenario for the Raiders could look like creating a team comprised of all these candidates, possibly with Richard coaching the DBs and Joe Barry coaching the linebackers.

This would allow them to work in areas that they are experienced in, though considering Kris Richard was willing to wait a year to find an opportunity he likes it’s an unlikely scenario. Saying this, Richard assuming the full role of defensive coordinator would be an interesting match and if he were to bring his single scheme to Las Vegas, it’s still unclear if the team would have the personnel to make it work.

Richard as Raiders Defensive Coordinator: What Would it Look Like?

Kris Richard Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator
Richard is known as an emotional and energetic coach which might be just what the Raiders young defense could use.

Kris Richard usually runs a single-high scheme where he prioritizes finding defensive backs with long arms who can cover in the zone. While the Raiders may not have the perfect personnel to run this system, cornerback Damon Arnette has short arms and many of the DBs have a history of being stronger in man coverage, there have been some rumors floating around that if Richard were to come he could bring his old friend Richard Sherman along.

It seems as if Sherman will not be returning to the Bay Area and his experience in this system could prove invaluable. Kris Richard and candidate Gus Bradley hold many of the same philosophies close to heart, developed from their time in Seattle. If Richard could come to the desert and make this defense anywhere close to what he helped build there, he would be a home run hire. However, doing that with the level of talent on this defense at the moment is easier said than done.