Rumors: O'Neil to leave Raiders, take job with Northwestern originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Another change to the Raiders' defensive coaching staff has been made.
Raiders defensive backs coach Jim O'Neil is reportedly leaving Las Vegas to take a job as the defensive coordinator at Northwestern, ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reports.
O'Neil, 42, has spent the last three years in the Raiders' organization after previously working as the defensive coordinator for both the San Francisco 49ers and the Cleveland Browns. He originally served as the Raiders' senior defensive assistant in 2018 before being promoted to defensive backs coach for the last two seasons.
O'Neil has several ties to Northwestern. He was a graduate assistant/defensive back coach for the university in 2003-2004, where he worked alongside Northwestern's current head coach, Pat Fitzgerald. He also spent three seasons at Eastern Michigan working with Jeff Genyk, who now serves as Northwestern's special teams coordinator.
Improved defense will play a critical role for the Raiders, who haven't made the playoffs since 2016. Although it's still early in the offseason, Las Vegas has wasted no time in reforming their coach staff under coach Jon Gruden, and O'Neil's departure doesn't come as much of a surprise. The Raiders already made a big change to their coaching staff when they hired former Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley to replace Paul Guenther, who was let go in December.
Bradley, 54, served as the Chargers' defensive coordinator for the last four seasons. In 2020, the Chargers allowed 343.4 yards per game, the 10th best mark in the league. The Raiders ranked 24th.
Bradley is expected to bring a few of his coaches with him to Las Vegas, although various reports have circulated stating former LA defensive backs coach Ron Milus will join the staff, along with Richard Smith. Interim defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is also expected to be retained.
Plenty of offseason remains, but the coaching staff turnover could be an indicator that bigger changes to the organization are on the horizon.