The Raiders added Joe Woods as one of two new defensive backs coaches, February 6, 2014. Woods previously coached in the NFL for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2004-05) and the Minnesota Vikings (2006-13). He also has extensive experience at the college level.
Woods had not planned to be a coach, but an opportunity shortly after his college playing days at Illinois State, started his career that has spanned more than two decades. "My senior year I played at Illinois State, and I was on my way down to check out of the equipment room, and my position coach just asked me, 'Joe, did you ever think about coaching?' And I was like, 'No, I never really thought about it, but if I had an opportunity, I would definitely do it,'" said Woods. "And he said, 'There will be an opportunity here for you in the spring after graduation to help me.' And I did. And when I did it, I just loved being involved in the game because I just loved football. It just kind of took off from there."
The Pennsylvania-native has worked with defensive-minded coaches throughout his career. "I'm really just a guy that has a lot of knowledge; this will be my 11th season in the NFL," said Woods. "Through my experiences at Tampa Bay being with a good defensive staff, Monte Kiffin, Mike Tomlin, Joe Barry, those guys down there, and my experiences with Minnesota winning two divisional titles, going to the NFC Championship, I'm just a guy that has knowledge, coached young guys, veteran guys, guys in between, so just a lot of experiences I feel like I can bring."
Woods joins a Raiders staff led by another (former) secondary coach in Dennis Allen. "It's great because just over the years when I was in Minnesota, and especially my time in Tampa, we played against New Orleans, so I'm very familiar with what [Allen] did defensively and how he grew when he went to Denver," explained Woods. "I'm familiar with the schemes. It was something I actually looked at. From that standpoint, I like working for Dennis just because of his experiences as a defensive coach and also he sees the game the way you see it because he was a secondary coach. It's easier because of the communication. He understands what I'm talking about and I understand what he's talking about, so I'm really excited about working with Dennis from that standpoint."
He's also looking forward to working closely with mad-scientist defensive coordinator Jason Tarver. "Tarver is great. I think he's a great defensive coordinator because he has a great defensive mind," said Woods. "He's experienced a lot of different defensive schemes and he is very, very smart and he can recall things at the snap of your finger. He can always tell you the whys and whenever you talk to somebody, whether its offensive football or defensive football, when they can tell you the whys, those are the guys you really want to work under."
Woods brings a different coaching style to the table. "I'm a guy that is probably more of a players' coach, understanding how they're feeling, but at the same time, I know there's a fine line," he explained. "I'm a guy that's going to get on a player and try to get the best out of him, but at the same time understand how to be fair. That's probably me in a nutshell as a coach."
He will be balancing a unit comprised both veteran and young players. The mixed dynamic is something Woods is used to from his previous coaching positions. "With a veteran guy you have to understand that he's been in the game a long time and he understands football and he may see it a different way," said Woods. "In Minnesota, I coached Antoine Winfield. He was 15 years in and those guys have earned a certain level of respect just because they've done it at a high level, but at the same time you have to make sure to get them to do it your way. There's a little bit of give and take when it comes to coaching a veteran guy that has his type of pedigree."
Coaching a younger player is much different than working with the experienced guys. "When it comes to a younger guy, I've coached a lot of rookies at my time in Minnesota just because that's what we drafted. They're different," Woods explained. "They have to learn and understand how to play in the NFL. You have to get them up to speed fast because the NFL is a show-me game. They don't care if you're a rookie or a veteran, they just want results. So you have to spend more time just to bring them up in terms of the scheme and get them to perform at a high level early in their career."
Making that dynamic work is worth it for Woods, who grew up respecting the Silver and Black. "I grew up a Steelers fan so you always thought of those teams like Pittsburgh, Oakland Raiders, Dallas Cowboys," said Woods. "You always thought about a lot of tradition, you thought about a team that intimidated people. That was just the persona that I always knew or thought of in terms of the Oakland Raiders. You know it was an organization that had a lot of history."
Coming in, Woods wants Raider Nation to know the type of person they're getting on the coaching staff. "I'd want them to know that as a person they're getting a quality individual that's going to come in and not only do his best job as a football coach, but also be a good person that's going to help make these guys better on the field and off the field," said Woods.
Woods wants to help the Raiders defense, specifically the secondary, put a great product on the field. "The thing you have to understand about coaching football is that your job is to put them in position to make plays and to help them make plays in terms of what you're coaching them to do. That's my whole focus," said Woods. "I love football. If I had to stay in the office 24 hours a day to get it done, that's what I'm going to do. That's the way I've always been. I'm a grinder, but I'm going to do whatever I need to do to produce results on the field."
He's looking forward to being a part of the Raiders. "I know the fans here are very passionate about football. You can see it just from watching tape," he said. "They just want to see you win and that's why I'm here – to win."