ALAMEDA — There have been several high-profile names talked about as potential candidates for the Oakland Raiders head coaching job in 2015. Running back Latavius Murray has his own: current interim coach Tony Sparano.
A day after a 31-13 loss to Kansas City that dropped the Raiders to 2-12, Sparano received of vote of confidence from his players to come back next season and have the interim label removed from his title.
That might be a longshot considering some of the candidates being discussed for the job.
Still, Murray believes the Raiders would benefit from having Sparano back.
“Tony's done a great job and everybody in the locker room loves his approach,” Murray said Monday. “I feel he's definitely a players' coach and we all love playing for him. We've been coming up short on some games but that definitely doesn't change the mentality we have each week going forward.”
Oakland's only two wins this season have come under Sparano's watch and the team has remained fairly competitive despite long ago being eliminated from playoff contention.
Since taking over as interim coach after the firing of Dennis Allen during the team's bye week, Sparano's teams have lost eight games but three have been by seven points or fewer.
Sparano, the 53-year-old coach who previously helped orchestrate a 10-game turnaround with the Miami Dolphins in 2008, has consistently downplayed talk about his future with the Raiders.
“Listen, I am 100 percent a glass half-full guy,” Sparano said. “I'm only worried about, honestly, the Buffalo Bills right now. We just met with our players and got that (Chiefs) game out of our system. We'll bounce back. I can only control the things that I can control. I can control what happens in our stadium this weekend and how our team approaches this game.”
The Raiders host the Bills on Sunday before closing out the season on the road in Denver.
Speculation on who will coach the Raiders in 2015 has been ongoing since owner Mark Davis fired Allen on Sept. 29.
Numerous names have surfaced as potential candidates for the job, including current San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh was the Raiders' quarterbacks coach from 2002-2003 and has openly expressed his fondness for late team owner Al Davis.
Jon Gruden, the former Oakland coach who had a 38-26 record and two playoff wins with the Raiders from 1998-2001, has also been mentioned as a possibility for the job.
But Harbaugh is still under contract with the 49ers and Gruden has a job working as a color analyst for ESPN.
Murray sees no reason to make a change anyway, saying Sparano has universal support in the Raiders' locker room.
“Everyone that I'm close with, we definitely like Tony,” Murray said. “I definitely don't mind playing for him at all. He's a guy that can relate to us players a lot. He's constantly motivating us. He reminds us that even though the season hasn't gone the way we want it to go, just to stay positive and try to look forward to that next week.”
That could be tough with only two games left.
They'll be playing without wide receiver Rod Streater, who has not been cleared medically and will be placed on season-ending injured reserve.
Streater underwent surgery after breaking his foot in Week 3. The team's leading receiver in 2013, he had been working out with the team for the past few weeks as a roster exemption but his practice period expired Monday, forcing the Raiders to make a decision on what to do.