According to Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders have a playoff caliber defense. “If we had gotten into the playoffs,” Davis says, “There’s no telling how far we could go because we have a defense -- if we can keep them together -- that is coming of age.”
Basically, what Davis said is: To heck with John Marshall! Our defense is awesome, it doesn’t matter who is coaching it.
If Winston Moss joins a staff on defense that includes another former Raiders linebacker, Coach Greg Biekert, don’t expect much of a scheme change. Both of these guys played a 4-3 defense for the Raiders and Mike Waufle is a 4-3 line coach. Not only that, but this is Al Davis’ defense. Al likes to pull the strings and be involved in scheme development as much as any defensive coordinator he has ever hired. Al likes pressure from his front four, not a whole bunch of fancy blitzing or zone blitzing schemes.
Why did John Marshall get fired? Perhaps Al didn’t take the training wheels off for Marshall; perhaps instead it was a last ditch effort from Tom Cable to try and save his job by turning John Marshall loose. Cable may have given Marshall the free will to teach defense how he wanted it, rather than how the boss wanted it. Did Tom Cable undermine his boss because he thought Marshall’s scheme would be more effective?
It was nice to see more blitzing for a season, but if the boss don’t like it then it’s just not going to work out.
Whoever is hired as defensive coordinator for the Raiders is going to be under Davis’ thumb. Perhaps his best summers are behind him, but with a new defensive coordinator on the premises, Davis will have his eyes open wide and his ears all perked up. I guess the biggest advantage for Winston Moss, if he's the guy, would be working with an owner who is known to be very fond of his former players.
So perhaps Winston Moss is someone who may be able to sway the simple man-up Davis defense to be just a little bit more advanced. Something new and exciting that will have all the NFL’s teams switching back to the 4-3 scheme three to four years from now. Probably not, but what are the other options?
Chuck Bresnahan could be the defensive coordinator just waiting to be appointed; he could just be a defensive consultant similar to the role that Al Saunders played with Cam Cameron and the Baltimore Ravens before he was hired by the Raiders earlier this offseason. Considering his new title, which is officially “defensive coach," Bresnahan could be as much as the defensive play caller this year, or he could be as little as an Al Davis watch dog who bites the new defensive coordinator whenever instructed to do so by the boss.
It’s a weird situation, but Al Davis loves it. He loves being all the buzz of the Bay Area with “Coach Watch” 2011. He loves his Raiders getting all this attention. And this year, the cherry on top is that they may actually be heading in the right direction.
But the bottom line here is it doesn’t really matter who the new defensive coordinator is. The only thing the new guy might be able to accomplish is to make it a little bit less vanilla.