The Oakland Raiders have hired Joe Woods as defensive backs coach, Marcus Robertson as assistant defensive backs coach, Chris Boniol as assistant special teams coach and Vernon Stephens as assistant strength and conditioning coach, General Manager Reggie McKenzie announced Thursday.
The four additions complete the Raiders’ coaching staff for the 2014 season.
Woods: Woods joins the Raiders following eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. A coach for over 20 years, Woods has spent time at Muskingum College (1992), Eastern Michigan (1993), Northwestern State (1994), Grand Valley State (1994-96), Kent State (1997), Hofstra (1998-2000), Western Michigan (2001-03), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004-05) and Minnesota Vikings (2006-13). Before joining the coaching ranks, Woods was a four-year letterman as safety and a captain as a senior at Illinois State, earning first-team All-Gateway honors in 1991.
During Woods’ tenure in Minnesota, cornerback Antoine Winfield was a stalwart in the secondary, earning Pro Bowl selections from 2008-10. Winfield totaled 692 tackles (579 solo) in nine seasons in Minnesota, along with 6.5 sacks, 21 interceptions, 74 passes defensed and 12 forced fumbles in 119 games with the Vikings. Under Woods’ tutelage in 2012, the Vikings secondary improved by leaps and bounds and helped the team earn a Wild Card playoff berth. Rookie safety Harrison Smith tied for the team lead with three interceptions and became the first Vikings defensive back to earn All-Rookie honors since Orlando Thomas in 1995. In 2010, The Vikings secondary accounted for nine interceptions, two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles. In 2008, the secondary helped the Vikings rank sixth in the NFL in total defense, the highest finish since 1994. Despite the personnel shuffling, the Vikings defensive backs helped the total defense jump from 20th in 2007 to sixth in 2008. Each of the six top Vikings defensive backs intercepted passes in 2008 and showed their value in run support.
Robertson: Robertson enters his first season with the Raiders after spending the previous two seasons with the Detroit Lions. Robertson was a defensive assistant/secondary coach in 2012 before being promoted to secondary coach prior to the 2013 campaign. Prior to his time in Detroit, he coached with the Titans for five seasons as the team’s assistant secondary coach and secondary coach. Before joining the coaching ranks, Robertson played 12 NFL seasons for Houston/Tennessee and Seattle, playing his first 10 seasons in Houston/Tennessee and finishing his career with Seattle (2001-02). Robertson, who played in 157 games (144 starts) with 851 tackles, 24 interceptions and 1.5 sacks, was an All-Pro in 1993 and 1997. Following his playing career, Robertson served as Tennessee’s director of player development from 2003-06 before joining the coaching staff in 2007.
A native of Pasadena, Calif., Robertson tutored the Titans’ secondary from 2007-11 and from 2009-11, Tennessee’s secondary allowed the second fewest average passing yards per completion (10.55). In 2008, the Titans had three Pro Bowlers in their secondary, and the defensive backs collected 19 interceptions in total that season. The following year, he guided a unit that led the NFL in interceptions returned for touchdowns with four.
Boniol: Boniol joins the Raiders after spending four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys as their assistant special teams coach. Boniol, a former NFL kicker, played six seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. Boniol owns the Cowboys’ single-season franchise record for highest field goal percentage, connecting on 27-of-28 field goals (96.4 percent) in 1995. Following his playing career, he became a teacher and privately coached football for high school and collegiate student athletes before accepting a coaching position with Dallas leading up to the 2010 season.
Boniol tutored Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey each of the last three seasons, helping Bailey connect on 89-of-98 (90.8 percent) field goal attempts since 2011. Bailey holds the second- and third-best single-season franchise marks for field goal percentage, connecting on 93.5 percent of his kicks in 2012 and 93.3 percent in 2013. Under Boniol’s watch, Bailey moved into second place on the Cowboys’ all-time list with 89 field goals made and first on the all-time list with a 90.5 field goal percentage.
Stephens: Stephens enters his first season with the Raiders after spending six seasons with the San Diego Chargers (2007-12) in the same capacity. Stephens came to the Chargers after four years as the assistant speed, strength and conditioning coach at University of Colorado (2003-06). At Colorado, he worked with the Buffaloes’ football, basketball, track and field and cross country teams. He was a strength and conditioning intern for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2002-03 and was head strength and conditioning coach at the University of North Florida from 1999-03, where he initialized and implemented the school’s first strength and conditioning program.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Stephens graduated from Stanton College Prep before earning a health and exercise science bachelor’s degree from North Florida. He is nationally certified through the NSCA, CSCCA, NASM and USAW.