Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

October 22, 2008
Ryan speaks on defense and family

ALAMEDA - I get the feeling Tom Cable won't be marched out to refute anything Rob Ryan said today.

Ryan, the team's defensive coordinator, held a media session for about 10 minutes for the first time he spoke for nearly 20 minutes last month to refute former coach Lane Kiffin saying the defensive gameplan was drawn up by Ryan and owner Al Davis.

Ryan was his typical self today. Funny, quick, profane and taking shots at his critics.

One of Ryan's critics had been Kiffin, who began changing is tune a bit once his days were numbered as coach.

"I think it's great, a breath of fresh air having Tom Cable come in," Ryan said. "I felt, to be honest, I felt a lot of stuff was pointed at the defense that I wasn't necessarily agreeing with. It's been well-documented, we lost six games giving up one offensive touchdown last season and it seemed like single different game was the defense's fault. Attribute that to whatever it is. Bottom line is I think we've got a damned good leader in front of the group now and everything's fine."

Nope, Davis won't ask Cable to dispute that.

"I think Tom's a guy that you can go to. He's a guy that guys believe in and I think when you see a guy like that, you see some genuine toughness and like Art (Shell) had genuine toughness, and I know, hell, out defensive guys liked him and we played well when he was our head coach and I think Tom Cable brings a lot of those good attributes to guys that are in the room as defensive players."

Nope, Greg Knapp won't be asked to refute that, either.

Considering the criticism the Raiders defense takes for not blitzing and the like, Ryan was glad to see his unit force three punts in overtime Sunday against the Jets.

It was better than the 34 points the Raiders gave up in New Orleans a week earlier.

Ryan had a message for those that think it was because the defense sat back and did nothing to stop Drew Brees.

"Sometimes, people think, well, we play prevent (defense)," Ryan said. "We don't have a prevent, so I wish people would stop saying that (expletive)."

*Ryan talked about going against his brother, Rex, who is the Ravens' defensive coordinator.

"I keep quiet and like to be a professional," Rob said. "He's an arrogant ass. Other than that, he has some big bullies to stand behind, just like I do. But great players make great defenses, and two of the best defenses in the league are going to show up Sunday."

Right now, the Ravens are living up to their bully status with the as they are No. 2 in total defense, No. 4 against the pass and No. 1 against the run.

The Raiders are 26th in total defense, 22nd against the pass and 24th against the run.

The Raiders have the Ravens beat with 16 sacks compared to 12.

The media proudly takes credit for the improved Raiders pass rush.

"Well, you guys gave me so much (expletive) the first week for having none, that we decided to go get the quarterback," Ryan said.

*So who is Ryan's dad, former NFL coach Buddy Ryan cheering for?

"He's a Raider fan," Rob said of Buddy.

*Ryan addressed the ever-troublesome run defense, which allowed the Jets to run for 242 yards. He was happy it wasn't more.

"We don't take offense to a four or five yard run," Ryan said. "We just don't like those 50 yarders or 40 yarders to come through there. Could have been a hell of a lot worse, as bad as that number was. Hiram Eugene really stepped up and probably saved three touchdowns. We've got work to do but we're looking forward to this challenge. This team's gonna want to run the ball with a rookie quarterback so we'll see how he does. This guy is not a Pro Bowl candidate or a Hall of Famer so it'd be all right like all these other guys we played... with the exception of Damon Huard."

That guy, Joe Flacco, has two touchdown passes and seven interceptions this season.

Never has a player with four tackles been as praised as Eugene. It speaks to how poorly Michael Huff was playing at free safety.

Eugene looked better than he did in his 2007 appearances when his missed tackles made him no real upgrade over Stuart Schweigert.

Huff is still Eugene's backup, playing only in nickel and dime personnel groupings.

With the Baltimore Ravens this week, a team that likes to run, Eugene should play a lot.

Huff still has work to do.

"Michael has just got to concentrate on things that we want him to work on and where he can improve his game," Ryan said. "Like all of us, we've got room to improve. He can do it. The guy just keeps working hard. He did a good job in the sub(-package) last week, and I'm sure he'll continue to do a good job."

*Ryan on rookie DE Trevor Scott, who had two sacks against the Jets:

"Well, I won't lie to you and say I never found him. I actually did find him, but everybody is going to believe whatever, but that's the way it is. I've always had a good eye for talent, and that kid has got a lot of talent. Of course, a blind man could see him on tape. That kid can play, and he's getting better."

*Cable said today LG Robert Gallery isn't far from being a Pro Bowl player.

"I think once he goes across the water and goes to the Pro Bowl, I think people will evaluate him for who he is, what he's become," Cable said.

Gallery's false start penalty on Sunday was his first of the season. He's improved his pass blocking and isn't being called for holding like in past seasons.

"He made the change in the summer (of 2007 to guard from tackle) and I trusted him from the conversations that we'd had before that it was the best move for me and our team at that point," Gallery said. "And I really haven't looked back since then."

Gallery was the second-overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft as a tackle. That didn't work out, but he's playing well enough at guard that some of those Tony Mandarich jokes should cease.

It's a matter of wins, too. People forget Dallas Pro Bowl guard Leonard Davis was drafted as a tackle.

With wins, Gallery's accolades will follow.

*DE Derrick Burgess (triceps) and LB Jon Alston (foot) will be evaluated daily after missing today's practice. DT Gerard Warren (ankle) is expected to participate in Thursday's practice.

--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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