The Las Vegas Raiders have gone through many changes since their beginning in 1960. They have been around since the AFL days with many different head coaches and three city changes. The most recent one will be final in 2020 when they kick off for the first time in Las Vegas.
Jon Gruden is back for his second stint as head coach of the Raiders and is trying to turn around a franchise that has not seen consistent success this generation. He has already made his mark as one of the top coaches in franchise history and he will be looking to add to his resume.
Who will join Gruden on the list? Here are the top five head coaches in Raiders’ history.
5. Al Davis
Davis is more than just a former head coach of the Raiders. He is the figure that represents the Raiders. Davis coached from 1963-1965 before stepping down to become the commissioner of the AFL. He compiled a 23-16-3 record and was named AFL Coach of the Year in 1963.
Davis lasted only one year as commissioner before returning to the Raiders as their owner and general manager. The Raiders were wildly successful and popular with Davis in the front office. He was known for his motto “Just win baby” and that is what the team did.
The NFL inducted Davis into the Hall of Fame in 1992. He is still remembered as one of the most important figures in football history.
4. Jon Rauch
After Davis left the sidelines, Rauch took over and lasted three years as head coach. He went 8-5-1 in his first season with the team but it was all uphill from there.
Rauch led the Raiders to a 25-2 record in his final two seasons. In 1967, they won the AFL Championship 40-7 over the Houston Oilers and earned a chance to play for the Super Bowl. They ended up losing to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II. Rauch would get the Raiders to the AFL Championship once again in 1968 but they were beaten by the New York Jets.
Rauch could have continued to build something great in Oakland but he and Davis did not see eye-to-eye. Rauch wanted full control of the team without help. He would leave after three years to go coach the Buffalo Bills. Nonetheless, his time as head coach of the Raiders cannot be forgotten or downplayed.
3. Jon Gruden
Gruden took over a bad team in 1998. When he arrived, the Raiders had finished in the bottom half of the division in the previous four years. Gruden changed all of that.
In his first two seasons as head coach, Gruden finished 8-8 and did not make the playoffs. In 2000, the Raiders broke through with 12 wins and a division title. They shut out the Miami Dolphins 27-0 in the divisional round but would fall in the AFC title game. In 2001, Gruden led the Raiders to yet another division title and playoff berth.
Gruden finished 38-26 in his first stint with the Raiders. He returned as head coach in 2018 on a massive 10-year, $100 million deal, the largest in NFL history for a head coach. So far, the team has not seen any success, but the franchise is hopeful that Gruden is the man to turn it around.
2. Tom Flores
Flores is one of two people in NFL history to win a Super Bowl as a player, assistant coach, and head coach. The other is Mike Ditka. Flores won a title as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs and an assistant coach under John Madden. So when Flores became head coach in 1979, he knew how to win.
That was clear from the start. Flores went 9-7 in his first season but missed the playoffs. He would make up for it in 1980 when he would lead the Raiders to a Super Bowl as a wild card team. Just three years later, Flores would win his second Super Bowl as head coach.
Flores coached the Raiders for nine years. He finished 83-53 and went 8-3 in the postseason. The Raiders made the playoffs in five of the nine years Flores patrolled the sidelines. He coached the likes of Jim Plunkett, Marcus Allen, and Lester Hayes.
In 1987, the Raiders finished 5-10 and Flores made the move into the front office. He ended his career as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks but Flores is known for his work in Oakland and Los Angeles.
1. John Madden
Madden spent 10 years as head coach of the Raiders and did not do much losing. He finished with an eye-opening record of 103-32-7. The Raiders won the AFC West seven times under Madden and were a regular in the playoffs.
The regular season was a breeze for Madden but it was not the same in the postseason. In his first season in 1969, the Raiders finished 12-1 but lost the AFL Championship. This quickly became a trend. the Raiders lost the AFC Championship in 1970 and returned in 1973. The Raiders would make five consecutive AFC title game appearances and lost four of them.
They made sure to make that fifth one count. In 1976, Oakland finished 13-1 and atop the division. They began the playoffs with a close call against the New England Patriots before blowing out the Pittsburgh Steelers in their fourth consecutive AFC Championship Game appearance. The Raiders would face the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl and made quick work of them.
Oakland scored 16 second-quarter points to grab hold of the game and never let go. Fred Biletnikoff was named MVP after catching our passes for 79 yards. Madden was able to grab that elusive championship and solidify his spot among the great coaches in history.