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Five things to know about TEs coach David Raih

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) talks with receivers coach David Raih, right, during NFL football practice at State Farm Stadium Friday, July 26, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) talks with receivers coach David Raih, right, during NFL football practice at State Farm Stadium Friday, July 26, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Washington Commanders have finalized their coaching staff for the 2024 season, and is going to spend the next few weeks providing an inside look at their backgrounds and what they can add to the team.

Next up is tight ends coach David Raih.

1. He was a talented high school and college athlete.

Raih was a three-sport athlete at Saint Thomas Academy, a military high school where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He played on the football, basketball and track teams, helping his basketball team win the Minnesota state championship. On the football field, Raih played quarterback and led them to the semifinals during his junior and senior seasons.

Raih ended his high school career with all-state and all-conference honors in his senior year and set school records in career passing yards (2,650) and threw 25 touchdown passes in his final two seasons.

Raih was offered a scholarship from the University of Iowa and played four seasons for the Hawkeyes, although his career was limited by injuries. In 2002, he helped the Hawkeyes reach an 11-1 record, beating teams like No. 12 Penn State and No. 8 Michigan, and advance to the Orange Bowl against No. 5 USC. The Hawkeyes ranked 13th yards per game and seventh in points per game that season.

2. He took a serious leap of faith to pursue coaching.

Imagine having a six-figure income and living comfortably with a secure career. Now, imagine giving all of that up for an unpaid internship with no certainty that the decision would work out in your favor.

That's exactly what Raih did to become a coach.

After graduating from Iowa with a degree in finance, Raih was hired by Zimmer, Inc., a medical device company, to help sell hip and knee implants to surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. It was a solid job with a more than decent salary, but all Raih could think about was football.

"It's one of those things, it was almost so ridiculous you don't even want to tell anybody," Raih told ESPN's Rob Demovsky in 2016.

Raih's journey began in 2008, when he attended UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel's introductory press conference. He waited for five hours after the press conference had ended to try and convince Neuheisel to give him a chance, which led to him getting an unpaid internship on the coaching staff.

"I didn't tell a lot of people until it was done, and I was at UCLA working. And then I certainly didn't tell them it was for free," Raid said.

The pay didn't get much better in the short term -- he later received a stipend for $900 -- but Raih was at least around the sport he loved. He quickly impressed Neuheisel working with the quarterbacks and tight ends. Eventually, he was allowed to attend coaching staff meetings to help evaluate players.

"He became immediately part of our family," Neuheisel said. "It was a blast to have him around. Everybody who's ever had him on their staff falls for the guy because he's just got that way about him."

It might have been a big leap back then, but the decision has certainly paid off for Raih.

3. He's worked with Kliff Kingsbury before.

Raih joins the Commanders after spending a year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a senior offensive analyst. It's his first time coaching tight ends as the primary position coach, but he and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury have history together.

Their path together started back in 2013, when Raih joined Texas Tech as the director of high school relations. He spent time working with the quarterbacks before being promoted to the outside receivers coach ahead of the 2013 Holiday Bowl. Jace Amaro led the Red Raiders with eight receptions for 112 yards, while Jakeem Grant Sr. finished the 37-23 victory with 89 yards and two scores.

The next time Raih and Kingsbury worked together was six years ago with the Arizona Cardinals. Raih was hired as the Cardinals' receivers coach, pairing him with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk. At the time, Kirk set a career-high in receiving yards, catching 63% of his passes for 709 yards. The following season, Raih got to work with DeAndre Hopkins, who had 1,407 yards -- the third best finish of his career -- and was selected to the Pro Bowl.

4. He's got experience working with several position groups.

Raih has been in the NFL since 2014, and since then he's accumulated plenty of knowledge by working with almost every offensive position group.

Raih started his NFL career with the Green Bay Packers before being promoted to assistant offensive line coach in 2016. One year later, he got another promotion as an offensive perimeter coach before moving to wide receivers in 2018.

But that doesn't count all the jobs he had in college. Aside from getting his start with UCLA, he also returned to his alma mater as a graduate assistant working with Iowa's tight ends and offensive line. After working for the Cardinals for two seasons, he was hired as Vanderbilt's offensive coordinator and receivers coach.

So, while Raih has technically never held the title of tight ends coach at any point in his career, he does have plenty of experience to fall back on because he's been around so many other positions and schemes.

5. Davonte Adams had one of his best seasons with Raih as his coach.

Davante Adams is known as one of the best receivers in the NFL today, spending most of his career with the Green Bay Packers. Adams was starting to emerge as a dominant weapon heading into the 2018 season -- he had scored 22 touchdowns in the previous two seasons combined -- but his only season working with Raih as his receivers coach was when his game took another leap.

Adams finally got his first 1,000-yard season in 2018, catching 111 of his 169 targets for 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns, all of which were career highs for him at the time. Adams was at his most explosive from Weeks 5-10, when he hit at least 130 receiving yards in four of six games. The 166 yards he had against the Seattle Seahawks remains one of his best performances, as he made 10 grabs on 12 targets in a 27-24 loss.

Although Adams has had more successful seasons since 2018, it's still one of the best campaigns in his 10-year career. His yards, touchdownsn and catch rate that season are third in his career, and he ranked eighth among all receivers.

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