Patrick Graham may hold the title of Raiders defensive coordinator, but what he really sees himself as is a teacher.
"What we do is we develop lesson plans and try to implement what we want to see out there on the field," Graham said Friday in his first press conference in the Silver and Black.
Nicknamed "The Black Picasso" by players for the artful plays he draws up, it's no surprise Graham is a master of the cerebral, especially with a résumé that includes a sociology degree from Yale and coaching stops at Notre Dame, the Patriots, Packers, Dolphins and most recently, Giants.
"What we try to do with our lesson plans is teach the guys conceptual football, teach them situational football, all the stuff [Head Coach] Josh [McDaniels] talked about – us being a smart, tough football team – just making sure we're getting that stuff down. And then from there it grows.
"It evolves more over time than say, creation. We're trying to evolve the defense as opposed to creating new things every week. That's a big part of what we do, and it starts with the conceptual learning early on."
One player he's excited to get into the conceptual side with is anchor of the defensive line Maxx Crosby.
"Guys that have been productive in the league, they've proven that they can do it in the league. Obviously, each year is new and they're going to have to prove it all over again," Graham said. "That's the beauty of this league. But in terms of looking at Maxx, obviously he's long, great motor, a lot of stuff to work with there. ... I'm just excited because the times I've been around him, he seems like great energy."
Graham first met McDaniels back in New England in 2009 when Graham joined the team as a coaching assistant. He's worked with all levels of the defense in his various positions over his career – from linebackers coach, defensive line coach, run game coordinator to defensive coordinator – a little of everything across the board.
All he wants and needs to build the defense he imagines are good players who are ready to work and get the job done.
"I want good players. You give me good players, I'm good," he said with a laugh. "Whether I've worked with them before or not, I trust our coaches. I trust my ability to coach and teach. Give us good players, we'll be good to go."