AFC West: Ed Donatell

The Oakland Raiders have officially announced the first member of Dennis Allen’s staff.

The Raiders just put out a release formally announcing the hiring of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp. His hiring was widely reported Tuesday. This is Knapp’s second tour as Oakland’s offensive coordinator. Knapp -- who was Houston’s offensive coordinator the past two years -- was Oakland’s offensive coordinator in 2007-08. He was stripped of his duties by coach Tom Cable in 2008.

Oakland’s offense was awful when Knapp was originally with the team. However, the unit has much more talent now. Here are my thoughts on the Knapp hire from Tuesday.

Meanwhile, I’ve been asked by many readers if Knapp could bring Matt Leinart with him as a backup. Leinart is under contract in 2012, but I could see him being cut because T.J. Yates will likely back up Matt Schaub. If that is the case, I could see Knapp wanting Leinart to back up Carson Palmer. The team may not have interest in bringing back Kyle Boller. He was in Oakland because of his ties to former coach Hue Jackson. Second-year quarterback Terrelle Pryor may not be ready to be a backup, so Leinart could come in and play if he is available.

With Knapp officially on board, the Raiders’ next biggest hire is defensive coordinator. The Raiders have talked to former San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. The Raiders have been denied permission to talk to multiple candidates. If Manusky doesn’t get the job, San Francisco defensive backs coach Ed Donatell could also be in play.
The nice play is over in the AFC West. It didn’t last long.

When Dennis Allen was hired to be the Oakland Raiders’ head coach last week, his former boss John Fox wished Allen well. And, now, Allen is on his own.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Broncos have denied the Raiders permission to speak to linebackers coach Richard Smith for the Oakland defensive job.

Previously, Kansas City defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas and New Orleans defensive line coach Bill Johnson were dropped off as candidates. It’s not a surprise Fox denied Allen permission. He wants to keep as much stability on his defensive coaching staff as possible. It seems more and more teams are denying permission these days and it’s no shock this intra-division hard stance was made.

Potential coordinator candidates may now include former San Diego defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and San Francisco defensive backs coach Ed Donatell.

UPDATE: CSN Bay Area reports Oakland special teams coach John Fassel has reported to St. Louis. The Raiders have had one of the best special teams in the NFL in recent years. Fassel was a strong coach, but the talent remains for Oakland in this area.

Meanwhile, is reporting that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin is considering pursuing former Kansas City coach Todd Haley as offensive coordinator.

That would be an interesting pairing. Haley is known for being high strung and vocal in his coaching. Tomlin is intense, but he’s not much of a screamer and a yeller. Also, Haley is known for getting on his players often during games. It would be interesting to see an established quarterback such as Ben Roethlisberger adjust to playing for Haley.

I’m sure Haley would love the job. He is from Pittsburgh and his father, Dick, is a former legendary Steelers’ personnel man.
Among the potential candidates to become the Raiders' next defensive coordinator could be Denver linebackers coach Richard Smith, New Orleans defensive line coach Bill Johnson and San Francisco secondary coach Ed Donatell. Broncos coach Dennis Allen has coached with all three men. Smith and Donatell both have coordinating experience. Johnson coached Allen at Texas A&M and worked with him in New Orleans and Atlanta.

There is also talk that Allen could try to hire longtime strength coach Al Miller. Miller coached in Denver during the John Elway days and in Atlanta when Allen was there. There is no doubt Allen is deeply involved in filling out his staff. is reporting Kansas City defensive backs coach Emmitt Thomas is no longer a candidate to be the Raiders’ defensive coordinator.

Thomas was a mentor of Allen in Atlanta for several years.

Meanwhile, new Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel, who is expected to run his own defense, said it may be a while before he hires an offensive coordinator. He said he hasn’t asked permission to talk to Brian Daboll -- the former offensive coordinator for the Browns and Dolphins -- but he might. Daboll has been considered a favorite to land the job.

Evening AFC West notes

January, 14, 2011
Dallas is working on a deal to hire Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. It has been speculated that he could be a candidate in Oakland as a head coach or as defensive coordinator if offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is promoted to head coach.
  • San Francisco has hired former Denver defensive backs coach Ed Donatell for the same gig.
  • Oakland Pro Bowl alternate running back Darren McFadden moved closer to playing in the game in Hawaii on Jan.30. Tennessee’s Chris Johnson replaced Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew on the roster, moving McFadden up in the alternate list.

Oakland assistant jumps to Denver

January, 20, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

Don Martindale went from a potential head-coaching candidate in Oakland during the weekend to taking a job with the rival Denver Broncos. He has accepted a position on the defensive staff.

Martindale was said to be fiercely loyal to Raiders owner Al Davis. This could certainly challenge that relationship. Martindale interviewed with Oakland for several hours. ESPN's Michael Smith reported that it was for the head coaching job. The Raiders denied it was for that job. Sources said Martindale was frustrated by that development. He was in Denver to interview with new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels last week. Martindale decided to take the job Tuesday afternoon.

The hiring of Martindale completes the Broncos' defensive staff. He joins defensive line coach Wayne Nunnely. He left the Chargers on Monday. Ed Donatell joined the staff last week. He was Denver's secondary coach during its Super Bowl run last decade.

Tuesday afternoon, Denver announced the hiring of Nunnely, Donatell, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, special teams coach Mike Priefer and receivers coach Adam Gase. All of those hires were made in the past several days, Martindale's hiring wasn't announced.

AFC West news and notes

January, 15, 2009

Posted by's Bill Williamson

New Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli met with coach Herm Edwards on Thursday. A decision on Edwards' future is expected soon. If the team is indeed interested in Miami defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, the interest makes sense. Pioli and Pasqualoni have ties dating back several years.

  • Kansas City defensive backs coach David Gibbs is leaving the team to join Houston's staff in a similar role.
  • The Oakland Tribune reports that interim Raiders coach Tom Cable is interviewing potential assistants, which is a strong indication he will be named the permanent coach. Still, the Raiders interviewed Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on Thursday.
  • Don't be surprised if Ed Donatell becomes the secondary coach in Denver. A former NFL defensive coordinator, Donatell was Denver's secondary coach during its Super Bowl run last decade.
  • The word out of Oakland is that quality control coach John Fassel could be the team's new special-teams coach.
  • Former Denver general manager Ted Sundquist interviewed in Atlanta for the Kansas City job before Pioli emerged as a candidate.

Oakland coaching search update

January, 9, 2009
Posted by's Bill Williamson

There is movement in Oakland's coaching search.

The Raiders are reportedly bringing in Green Bay assistant Winston Moss for an interview this weekend. Moss is a former NFL linebacker who spent time in Oakland.

Moss is considered a long shot because of a lack of experience. The team has also interviewed New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and interim coach Tom Cable.

Many league observers believe Cable will be hired as the full-time coach. He led Oakland to two season-ending victories and he has the support of several Oakland players as well as a good relationship with Oakland owner Al Davis.

Adding fuel to the Cable fire is the team's interest in Ed Donatell as a defensive coordinator to replace Rob Ryan, who reportedly will take the same job in Cleveland. Cable and Donatell have a history together.