First Impressions: Chuck Bresnahan

I just watched the Chuck Bresnahan media session from Tuesday afternoon and I just have to say wow. This is an intense individual. The social media now is nothing like it was back during Bresnahan’s first go around, so I had no clue what the man was like live – right in front of you and in your face. And in your face he certainly is. He’s got high expectations for his defense and by the sound of things, he is going to keep them excited and on their toes.

People have said that the Raiders lost their best defensive player this offseason. Well, if that is indeed the case, then it was necessary en route to keeping 10 of the 11 starters from last year. That’s something Bresnahan said and something that hasn’t been brought into this equation by many people… at least not by me. I did not realize that they were returning so many starters and the one player who isn’t a returning starter was a starter in 2009, that being Chris Johnson. But when you think about the guys they were able bring back like Richard Seymour, Michael Huff, Stanford Routt, Kamerion Wimbley – it really puts into perspective that the loss of one guy who was ignored for entire seasons at a time may not be so bad after all.

Bresnahan mentioned in his presser that people would be excited to see what the defense looks like this year. He said it in response to a question about changing the defensive philosophy in any way. He would not come out and say that the scheme would be any different, and for the most part I don’t think he wants it to be different. He talks about how he believes in what the Raiders defense stands for and how he trusts the model and philosophies that are commonly used in Oakland. However, he said there will be some twists and variances in his defense that were not present in his first run as the Raiders defensive coordinator. And he gave his word that people would be impressed.

After originally being brought into the Raiders organization as a “defensive coach”, Bresnahan was – for lack of a better word – “promoted” to defensive coordinator shortly after. It was suspected that he was not the first choice of the Raiders, but rather a fallback crutch in case other avenues did not work out. But Bresnahan could care less how he got to where he is; he is just grateful for the opportunity to be there again. He said he’s wanted this for about three years now. I take it that means he will do everything in his power to make it work.

He also talked about how he has a fire burning in him since the Raiders “missed the opportunity” to be Super Bowl Champions back in 2002. Bresnahan spoke of how losing a Super Bowl stays with you and haunts you; and particularly in his family, where his dad was the defensive coordinator for the four consecutive Super Bowl losses of the Buffalo Bills. So that is the ultimate goal of Bresnahan in Oakland, to break the family curse. Really, it’s the ultimate goal of every player, coach, and most executives in the league, but Bresnahan has a little extra chip on his shoulder, so to speak.

Bresnahan also talked about how well his defensive staff is assembled, with guys like Greg Biekert and Rod Woodson who have played under him as a defensive coordinator before and know exactly what he expects. He also said that Mike Waufle is the best defensive line coach in the league. All of these factors make it a lot easier for Bresnahan to do his job and be more effective this time around. That plus his own seven years of “maturation” – as he calls it – is going to make his second stint as the Raiders’ defensive coordinator more successful than the first.

I’ve been listening to a lot of different perspectives early in this preseason process. It seems that nobody is giving the Raiders a fighting chance in spite of the fact that they did return so many players from a team that swept their division in 2010. Even Bodog has them only at an under/over of 6.5 games this year. That would only be sweeping their division again.

But I have to say, from what I learned about Hue Jackson’s offense last season and what I just heard from Chuck Bresnahan about the Raiders’ defense, I would be hard pressed to say they won’t improve that 8-8 record from last season. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on that over 6.5 wins and I think any betting person would be a fool not to do so.

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