Raiders' Bresnahan: 'My expectations are up'


Raiders' Bresnahan: 'My expectations are up'

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comNAPA --To quote The Who: Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.And to borrow from that song's title, will anyone get fooled again?Chuck Bresnahan left Oakland under less-than-ideal conditions following the 2003 season, canned as defensive coordinator after six years on staff with the Raiders ranked 30th in total defense . He resurfaced in Cincinnati, where he was the Bengals' DC for three years before bottoming out and finding himself in the UFL.In 2005, he recounted his time working for Al Davis to the San Francisco Chronicle."Al was a pain in the (rump)," Bresnahan said at the time, "but if you took it the right way, there was occasionally, here and there, some great ideas, great thoughts. But you had to know how to handle it in a respectful way, and say 'Yes' to some things you thought might help. But then to be able to say 'No' to some things."
So how, again, is it that Bresnahan was green-lighted by Davis to return to the Raiders as D.C. under new coach Hue Jackson? In his first meeting with the media since his hiring (re-hiring?) in February, Bresnahan broached the topic Tuesday in a wide-ranging interview that touched on working for Jon Gruden, to the heartbreak of losing a Super Bowl to the brand of defense fans can expect this season. Following then, a Q&A with Bresnahan 2.0:Question: How have you changed as a coach?Answer: If you look at players who have matured, take a guy like Charles Woodson, he's moved to different places and matured as a player. Look at Rod Woodson. He's a Hall of Famer who has come into coaching. Everyone matures as they go along. Sure, I've matured as a coach, as a coordinator, as the psychologist who has to deal with these guys in the meeting rooms. But I'm not going to change anything about me. I'm going to run it the same way I did before. It may have different twists and tweaks, but I know how to work within the organization. I know the staples of the Raiders organization, and I believe in them. I'm glad to be back with another opportunity to do this.Q: Are you surprised to be back?A: I'll just put it at this: Nobody really knows how it ended here. In a way, yes, but (in another), absolutely no. I'm excited to be back. I've wanted to do this for about three years to be honest with you.Q: To be back here?A: To be back here, yes. This is a great opportunity. And what better place to come back to than the place you kind of let one slip away in 2002? You can come back and shoot for another year of doing it right and to win another one for this organization and our owner.Q: Is having 10 of 11 starters returning on defense an advantage?A: That's a plus. It always is a plus, but when you come in and have different terminology and little things that we'll do different than they did last year, you're starting from scratch, anyway. Now, take that and don't have an offseason, and you've magnified that. To me, everybody has a clean slate. I put an empty grease board up in front of the room. That's what everyone is coming in with. Everyone has to prove themselves, including us as coaches. I'm excited about it. It's a clean slate and we're starting from scratch.Q: Compare the the NFL to the UFLA: It's great. Don''t get me wrong. I loved my opportunity there, because they were't there on big contracts; they weren't there for the money. It was the opportunity to get to this level. From a coaching standpoint, it was no different. I was down. I was out. It was a chance to come back and earn my right to back into the league. That's the way you've got to look at it. This is a fickle business, and you're only as good as your last performance. It was a great two years for me, but I'm anxious to get back and get going.Q: What should we expect from your defense?A: Ideally, Coach (Hue) Jackson has put out a vision of what is a Raider. It's physical, relentless, intelligent, poised under pressure, accountable and gets the job done. That's our phrase for us. That's what I want to see in our defense. Every one of those traits right there. That answers the question right there.Q: How good is your defensive line?A: We'll find out Thursday night, won't we?Q: What about right now?A: As of right now, my expectations are up here. They've set the bar high. OK, they've set the bar high. Now, we're going to use the little dots in the road map that we have set, but I'm excited to see these guys play. I'm excited to see the whole depth of the defense. I mean, we've got some talent. We've got to see how we pick up the changes in the scheme, the changes in the terminology and see what happens Thursday night. It's easy when you're going against each other and get used to each other. It's totally different when it's a whole new set of routes, a whole new blocking scheme in the run game. You've got to really sit back and see where you're at in understanding your defense.Q: Are you reminded of the last time you were here, then?A: It does, but I'll tell you what, and you guys know Jon (Gruden) was full of energy and the whole thing. Hue has a vision. His vision is totally different than what Jon's was. Hue is Hue. That's one thing we've told our players -- when you come out here, this is Hue Jackson's practice. This is how he envisions the Raider organization. We're 100 percent behind him.Q: Have you seen Rolando McClain do things as a leader?A: I've told Rolando, he' going to say what I think. That's how close we're going to be. And Greg Biekert will be involved with that, as well. We've got a series of leaders that we've picked out on defense and that's within our group, our unit. We keep that within our unit. They're the ones that are taking this defense where it needs to go. It's not just put on one man's shoulders. Rolando is our Mike, he's our signal caller, but we got a series of veterans in there that we're putting the whole responsibility of getting however many guys we have on the final roster following in and pulling that rope in the right direction.Q: Who is standing out on defense and how versatile can the defense be?A: I don't want to be evasive, but having not seen a preseason game yet, against somebody different, I really don't want to say anything yet. I want to sit back and see how we react to something different before I make any evaluations on who stands out.Q: Why was the defense so inconsistent against the run last year and give up so many passing touchdowns?A: I was going to say, there's one word that I'll say because this is not last year, this is this year. I would say, we have to be more consistent. Plain and simple. And eliminate the explosive plays. Those two things, and we'll be a much better defense.Q: When you were first hired your title was simply "defensive coach," but did you know you'd be the coordinator?A: (Laughs) If I tell you, I got to kill you. No, the only opportunity to come back at this pointu2026I told you, the UFL was great for me. I had the itch to get back into the league. There is a burning desire inside to get back to the Super Bowl and win it, OK? It is no fun to go there and lose it. It just eats at you. When you take mine and my dad's (Tom) four losses in a row with the (Buffalo) Bills, the family gets sick at the end of the year. OK, so we got to get back and get to it. It didn't matter what position. I came and I'm blessed to be in the position that I'm in.Q: Is there still a heavy reliance on man-to-man coverage?A: I plead the Fifth (laughs). I won't say. You'll see. You'll be excited when you see. You'll be excited.Q: Do you have the personnel to play different coverages?A: Any team has the personnel to play different coverages as long as you teach them. You got to be willing to live within your, you can't have a philosophy that goes like this (moves hand up, then down). You got to have a steady philosophy. Now, can there be a little bit above that line and a little bit below that line? Yes. But if you start going up and down too much, they'll never understand what you're trying to get done. But these guys are professionals. They can handle it.Q: How important was it to re-sign Kamerion Wimbley?A: Coach (Al) Davis did a great job in re-signing our free agents that we needed to get back. Did we lose a couple guys? Yeah, but that's part of football and you got to move on. But I'm very happy that we have Kamerion back, we've got Michael Huff back, we got Richard (Seymour) signed. Those signings are all big now. They're really big because they do bring back the nucleus of the defense back, and it's much easier for us to have something to work with that's already been established.Q: What was the key in getting your past run defenses to succeed?A: It starts with an attitude. It starts right at the beginning of the year. Most teams have goals or objectives. We do it a little bit differently here, but along the line, within those series of objectives and goals, stopping the run is very high. Again, it's an attitude that we build from the beginning. I'm excited to see us defend the run.Q: Does having former players like Rod Woodson and Greg Biekert as coaches help you?A: You know what it is? They know how I think. So, there's a lot of things that they can do without me even getting into explanation. On top of that, they're two players that I really respected as players. They were professional, they knew the game and they were able to come to the sideline and coach me. It would make it easier for me to make adjustments. I look at it the same way as a coaching staff. It's all intertwined now. We've got a very good staff and we've jelled very well together. Itu2019s not just Greg and Rod. Mike Waufle is the best defensive line coach in the league. I'm just telling you that right now. I'll just come out and say it. I got Kevin Ross, who's fiery in the back end, and he complements Rod's quiet, intelligent approach. Then we got Ricky Hunley came in, and heu2019s assisting Greg Biekert. Again, two veteran players that have played in the league and now they're into coaching. So, all that mix really helps us out. So, I'm excited. I'm excited about the staff and excited to get going and see how we play Thursday night.

McKenzie focuses Raiders' 2017 draft on defense, beefs up secondary

McKenzie focuses Raiders' 2017 draft on defense, beefs up secondary

ALAMEDA – Raiders general manger Reggie McKenzie made nine selections in this weekend’s NFL draft. That was a requirement given the state of his roster, featuring a stacked offense and a Swiss-cheese defense. It has holes.

He spent significant draft capital trying to upgrade the middle of his defense especially, adding three defensive backs, two defensive tackles and a fifth-round pick in Marquel Lee who will compete to start at middle linebacker.

He needs a few immediate impact players on the defensive group headlined by first-round cornerback Gareon Conley and second-round safety Obi Melifonwu.

“How much do I think I can get out of this group? I hope a lot,” McKenzie said Saturday after the NFL draft was complete. “They’re all going to come in and compete. We’re signing guys post-draft also. We’re going to give them all the opportunity to compete with the veterans that we already have on board. We hope that out of it all, the competition part of it, the cream rises and we have a very good 53-man roster.”

McKenzie follows a draft board thoroughly constructed through hundreds of scouting reports and cross checks, and extensive evaluation at combines and pro days. He trusts it. It has certainly treated him well before, which productive hauls in 2014 and 2015 especially.

While he lost out on some likable players taken before his slot, McKenzie believes the Raiders added quality and depth in previously lacking position groups. He stuck with size and athleticism at times over college production and, as always, beefed up both the offensive and defensive lines.

“I think the way it fell, we got a lot of players, at the end of the day, it looks like we needed,” he said. “We felt like we got a lot of good players with high talent levels from top to bottom. Some are going to be more raw than others. We’re going to have to see down the line, more so. I think talking to the board, you said, ‘Job well done.’”

McKenzie also focused on fixing a lackluster pass defense with speed. Conley can be a shutdown cornerback outside or in the slot. Melifonwu is a heavy hitter who can play both safety spots and is expected to contribute as a rookie. The secondary must improve to prevent big plays and help Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin get after the quarterback.

“You have to have speed to play the game the way it’s going now,” McKenzie said. “You have to be able to play in space. You have to be able to match up. We took all of that into consideration when we brought these players in. To the players that you mentioned, Obi and Conley, both of those guys have great range, speed, very athletic. So, they make tackles in space. That’s one of the things that we looked at. Make sure short to medium plays don’t turn into big plays. I think they will help in that scenario.”

Here’s a full list of Raiders draft picks:

Round 1 (No. 24 overall): CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State
Round 2 (No. 56 overall): S Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
Round 3 (No. 88 overall): DT Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA
Round 4 (No. 129 overall): OT David Sharpe, Florida
Round 5 (No. 168 overall): LB Marquel Lee, Wake Forest
Round 7 (No. 221 overall): S Shalom Luani, Washington State
Round 7 (No. 231 overall): OT Jylan Ware, Alabama State
Round 7 (No. 242 overall): RB Elijah Hood, North Carolina
Round 7 (No. 244 overall): DT Treyvon Hester, Toledo


Raiders 2017 UDFA tracker: McKenzie adds safeties, mining for more gold

Raiders 2017 UDFA tracker: McKenzie adds safeties, mining for more gold

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have had great success mining gold from undrafted free agency. Jalen Richard and Darius Latham were kings of last year’s crop, which was six strong by season’s end. with Seth Roberts and Denico Autry other examples of undrafted free agents done good in recent years.

Can Raiders scouts find more helpful pieces from those left out of the NFL draft? Time will tell on that one, but finding the right undrafted players is something the team takes seriously. Scouts revel in undrafted players who make it in the league.

“It’s very rewarding,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “If we sign him as a free agent, we may have had him on the board as draftable, but getting guys post draft, that helps you down the road. To maintain a consistent winner, you have to hit on some of those guys. You have to. The way that the contracts are these days, you have to have some of those type players to help you win football games year in and year out.”

The Raiders will search for those players into Saturday evening to fill the 90-man roster. McKenzie secured some of his top targets with four seventh-round picks, though several more have signed with the club. Here’s a list of those who have signed with the team thus far:

-- OL Jordan Simmons, USC: The hulking offensive lineman signed with the Raiders, he announced on social media. Simmons stands 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, and will turn pro after being denied a sixth year of college eligibility. The talented guard had an injury-riddled career.

-- WR Isaac Whitney, USC: Whitney is yet another undrafted Trojan to join the Raiders roster. He announced the signing on social media. He didn’t have many college stats, but is fast with the size the Raiders prefer in outside receivers.

-- WR Keon Hatcher, Arkansas: Hatcher will reportedly join the offseason receiver group in hopes of taking a roster spot. He had 44 catches for 743 yards and eight touchdowns in his final college season. (Houston Chronicle)

-- WR Ishmael Zamora, Baylor: The Bears official website reported that Zamora will sign with the Silver and Black. He had63 catches for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. He was suspended three games for abusing a dog in an incident that was caught on video. 

-- S Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma: The Raiders need safety depth, so it was smart of Thomas to sign in Oakland. He was a three-year starter and a team captain. (Houston Chronicle)

-- S Anthony Cioffi, Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights’ official Twitter account reported a four-year starter in college will give the pros a try in Oakland.

-- DT Jordan Wade, Oklahoma: The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle will join the Raiders. (

-- TE Pharaoh Brown, Oregon: The Ducks didn’t have a single player drafted, but Brown will join the Silver and Black. The tight end announced a signing on Twitter. He had 33 catches for 426 yards and five touchdown.

-- DT Paul Boyette, Texas: The Raiders continue adding volume at positions of need, including this 298-pound run stuffer. 

-- S Rickey Jefferson, LSU: Yet another safety joins the mix, according to LSU's football Twitter account. There will be a battle at that position all offseason as the Raiders try to sort out which players work best in their system. 


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