Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

December 27, 2007
Defending Ryan's defense

ALAMEDA – The media session with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan wasn’t as chipper as others have been.

It’s near the end of a season in which the unit has played well below expectations, ranking 26th overall.

Not exactly what Ryan wanted to chat about after believing he might have the best defense in the NFL back in training camp.

The Raiders can’t stop the run (31st in the NFL), can’t tackle consistently and that’s leaving many wondering if Ryan will have a job with the Raiders next season.

Ryan said he’d have a job in “two minutes” if he were fired and doesn’t sound worried about his future.

I don’t think firing Ryan will solve any problems.

It’s not Ryan’s fault that the only way the Raiders addressed their need for a run-stuffing defensive lineman was to resign Terdell Sands, who hasn’t played nearly as well as the team hoped he would with a four-year, $17 million contract with $4 million guaranteed.

Ryan hasn’t been stubborn stuck with underperforming starters. Two bad games by Fabian Washington put him behind Stanford Routt.

He’s also given two players (B.J. Ward, Hiram Eugene) chances to replace Stuart Schweigert at free safety when it was deemed his play wasn’t up to par.

The Raiders need help along the defensive line (though Ryan wouldn’t say that today).

The Raiders weren’t bad enough this season to be in position to draft LSU’s Glenn Dorsey, but don’t be shocked if Lane Kiffin plucks a pal from USC, Sedrick Ellis to be the anchor at defensive tackle.

Ryan wouldn’t criticize any of his players and some have taken some of the blame for how bad they’ve looked at times.

Kiffin was noncommittal as to whether Ryan would return next season as rumors persist he could hire his father, Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin in the offseason.

Here’s why that’s not likely to happen.

Kiffin has built his time in Oakland preaching open competition and no favorites. Then he’d hire his dad?

If Kiffin didn’t want to play Justin Fargas too soon because they spent two seasons at USC together, imagine the scrutiny of having to critique Pops when the defense plays bad.

Also, Monte runs the Cover 2, and the Raiders don’t have the personnel for that in the secondary. Nnamdi Asomugha could play in the scheme, but it emphasizes zone coverage and helping with quick run support.

And you’ve seen how the Raiders’ secondary tackles, right?

Sometime next week, the changes on staff should begin, if they do. Ryan might be able to test his Two-minute theory then.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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