Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Q: How have you changed—I'm trying to guess, probably seven or eight years since you were last here—how have you changed in the way you run things and in the way you're going to run things here versus last time you were here?
Coach Bresnahan: I think if you look at players that are matured; you take a guy like Charles Woodson, he's moved to different places; he's matured as a player. You look at Rod Woodson, a Hall of Famer who's now coming into coaching; everybody matures as they go along. So sure, I've grown as a coach, as a coordinator, as the psychiatrist that has to deal with these guys in the meeting room. But again, 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 different tweaks to what we did, but I know how to work within the organization. I know the staples in the organization and believe in them. I'm excited to be back and to get another opportunity to do this and I'm looking forward to it.
Q: Are you surprised to be back?
Coach Bresnahan: I'll just put it at this; nobody really knows how it ended here so in a way, yes, but absolutely no. I'm excited to be back; I've wanted to do this for about three years to be very honest with you, to be back here. This is a great opportunity. What better place to come back to than the place that you kind of let one slip away in 2002 and come back and shoot for another opportunity now to do it right and to win another one for this organization and our owner.
Q: What kind of edge does it give you to walk back into a situation where you have every guy, except Asomugha, that is going to start out here that played in that role last year?
Coach Bresnahan: That's a plus; it always is a plus. But when you come in and you've got different terminology and you've got little things that you'll do differently than they did last year, you're starting from scratch anyway. Now take that and not have an offseason, and you've magnified that. So to me everybody's got a clean slate. I told them, I put an empty grease board up in front of the room and that's what everybody's coming in with. Everybody's got to prove themselves including us as coaches. So I'm excited about it; it's a clean slate and we're starting from scratch.
Q: You said you loved the UFL because the players were there because they love the game; what's it like coming back coaching NFL players again?
Coach Bresnahan: It's great. Don't get me wrong, again, I loved my opportunity there because they weren't there on a big contract, they weren't there for the money, it was the opportunity to get to this level. From a coaching standpoint I was no different now; I was down, I was out, so it was a chance to come back and earn my right to get back into the league. So 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. So it was a great two years for me, but I'm anxious to get back and get going.
Q: What do you see from your defense, ideally?
Coach Bresnahan: What I'd like to do is Coach 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. So that answers the question right there.
Q: Are those guys you have on the line good enough where you can count on them that you can get the kind of pressure you want most of the time?
Coach Bresnahan: We'll find out Thursday night, won't we?
Q: But as of now…
Coach Bresnahan: As of right now, my expectations are up here, they've set the bar high. They've set the bar high; now we're going to, again, use the little road maps or the little dots in the road map that we have set to get to those levels. But I'm excited to see these guys play and I'm excited to see the whole depth of the defense. We've got some talent, we've got to see how we pickup the changes in the scheme, the changes in the terminology, and let's see what happens on Thursday night. It's easy when you start going against each other out here and you get used to each other; offense will have a good day, defense will have a good day. It's totally different when you get out there and it's a whole new set of routes, a whole new blocking scheme in the run game, so you've really got to sit back and see where you're at, understanding your defense.
Q: This is a subtle thing, but watching practice today I noticed how crisp it is, there's no wasted motion; does it remind you at all of the practices during your first time here?
Coach Bresnahan: You know, it does, but I'll tell you what, you guys know how John (Gruden) was; John was full of energy and the whole thing. Hue's got a vision and his vision is totally different than what John's was, that's one thing that he has sold to our players. So when you come out here, this is Hue Jackson's practice, this is what he envisions for the Raider organization and what we want to do, and we're 100% behind him.
Q: Hue talked about the importance of Rolando making this his defense; have you seen him start doing those things and how much time are you spending with him if he is going to be basically the quarterback of this defense?
Coach Bresnahan: I've told Rolando he's going to say what I think, that's how close we're going to be. Greg Biekert will be right involved with that as well. We've got a series of leaders on defense we picked out and within our group, our unit, we keep that within our unit, but they're the ones that are taking this defense where it needs to go. And it's not just put on one man's shoulders so Rolando is our signal caller, but we've got a series of veterans in there that we're putting the whole responsibility of however many guys we have on the final roster following in and pulling that rope in the right direction.
Q: Who stands out to you on this defense, coach, and how versatile can you be?
Coach Bresnahan: Having not seen a game yet, even a preseason game, 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: You move forward and you have a clean slate, but you must have looked at, for personnel purposes and to see what you had in film and stuff; how do you make sense of a team that gave up like 80 yards per game on the ground against the AFC West, 180 out of it, and was second in the league in pass defense but gave up 29 touchdown passes; is it just a consistency thing?
Coach Bresnahan: I was going to say, there's one word that I'll say, because this is not last year, this is this year. I'd 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 you were listed as a defensive coach; did you know you were going to be defensive coordinator?
Coach Bresnahan: If I tell you I've got to kill you, haha. You know what, to me, any opportunity to come back at this point. I told you, the UFL was great, but I had the itch to get back in the league. There is a burning desire inside to get back to the Super Bowl and win it. It is no fun to go there and lose it, it just eats at you. So we've got to get back and get to it so it didn't matter what position. I came and I'm blessed to be in the position I'm in.
Q: When you talk about you believe in the staples of the Raiders and how the Raiders want to play; is that still going to be as heavy a reliance on man to man or at least man to man principles?
Coach Bresnahan: I plead the fifth. You'll see, you'll see and you'll be excited when you see, you'll be excited.
Q: Do you have the personnel to try different coverages and mix it up?
Coach Bresnahan: I think every team has the personnel to play different coverages as long as you teach them. You've got to be willing to live within; you've got to have a steady philosophy. Now can there be a little bit off that line and a little bit below that line, yeah. 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: You talk about Rolando McClain earlier; speak to Kamerion Wimbley and how important it was to get him back here, get him locked up.
Coach Bresnahan: You know what, Coach Davis did a great job of re-signing our free agents that we needed to get back. And did we lose a couple of guys, yeah, but you know what, that's part of football and you've got to move on. I am very happy that we have Kamerion back, we got Michael Huff back, we got Richard signed. Those signings are all big now, they're really big because they do bring the nucleus of the back and it's much easier for us to have something to work with that's already been established.
Q: You had a couple years where you were a top five run defense; what were the keys in those years that made those run defenses?
Coach Bresnahan: I think it's an attitude. I think it starts right at the beginning of the year and, like I said, 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, so again, it's an attitude that we build right from the beginning and I'm excited to see us defend the run.
Q: Does it help you when you come back here and Rod, who was your free safety last time you were here, is now one of your assistants—Greg Biekert who played for you for a few years is now one of your assistants—you guys can just pick up where you left off?
Coach Bresnahan: Well 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 explanations. But on top of that, they're two players that I really respected as players. They were professionals, they knew the game, and they were able to come to the sideline and coach me and so 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, we gel very well together. It's 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, alright? I've got Kevin Ross who's fiery on the back end and he compliments Rod's quiet, intelligent approach. 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 on Thursday night.