Ryan likes makeup of Raiders' defense

Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, speaking to reporters for the first time in nearly 11 months, believes his defense will be vastly improved from the 2005 version. Ryan touched on a variety of topics, including the team's added speed plus an increased comfort level with the schemes.

Silver and Black Illustrated sat in on the meeting with Ryan Wednesday. The following are excerpts from that conversation:

Given that this is your third season in Oakland, how advanced is the defense at this stage?

Rob Ryan: We are working real hard to put our entire defense in. The nice thing about being around here for a while, you get to know the strengths and weaknesses of our players, specially our strengths. They get to know what we're looking for and our philosophy on defense. And it is going well. We're working hard and getting better.

How much will it help integrating the younger, faster players?

Rob Ryan: I'll tell you what, the great thing with these guys is they have all kinds of talent but they are also very smart. So they have jumped right in and grasped what we are doing and have really fit right in with the rest of them. They are up to speed and we are looking for great things from them.

How much was it your emphasis to add the kind of speed you added?

Rob Ryan: I think with the Raider defense it always emphasizes great athletes with great speed and great talent. I think we definitely have plenty of that and we are excited about them and we just can't wait to play and look forward to watching these guys make plays.

Was that a big topic of conversation before the draft, that you needed to emphasize speed?

Rob Ryan: I think we were so fortunate enough to get the guys we got ... you just hope and pray that they are there. We targeted these guys we got and we got the ones we wanted, so it was great.

Do you feel you have all the personnel to play the 4-3, 3-4, 4-2-5?

Rob Ryan: Oh yeah. I think we've got great personnel and we can play pretty much anything we want.

What's your impression of Michael Huff?

Rob Ryan: We were very excited with the way he played on the opening game. We just think he's going to improve each week. We're excited about Michael Huff. He's been great for us. Everything we've been looking for he's given us and more.

Is the plan to use him like you did Charles Woodson last year?

Rob Ryan: I think Charles was banged up a little bit last year. He didn't play a whole lot. Michael Huff will hopefully bring some ability and durability and we're looking forward to putting him in a defense that we think he'll be comfortable with, one that he can excel in. Michael can really do anything. He can play in any system, any system of defense. He can really play anywhere on the field. And like I said, I mentioned versatility and athletic ability, he's got all that. He's going to help us win some football games, I know that.

You've stressed turnovers during training camp and had five forced turnovers against Philadelphia. Does that prove to the players you're doing the right thing?

Rob Ryan: I think obviously we have to improve on what we've done in the past and we've got the players to do so. And we're going to always preach fundamentals like we always have and play aggressive. You know, good things happen when you play aggressive and you're smart.

What was your first impression of Art Shell?

Rob Ryan: My first experience with Art Shell was watching my father coach the Vikings, and he made me cry, him and Willie Brown, when they beat the crap out of the Vikings. Jim Marshall, Dad's player, didn't have any tackles, so apparently it was a pretty good impression. But meeting the man, it's outstanding. He's a strong man. You just feel his intensity when you meet him. And the first time I met him, I'm like, ‘Ooh, shit, this is gonna be all right.' So I was fortunate enough to be hired under him, and I'm gonna do a great job coaching, and that's the way it's always been for me.

How close did you come to leaving Raiders last year?

Rob Ryan: Not very. I want to be here, and I love working for the Raiders, and I can't wait to win for the Raiders. That's why I'm here.

What did you think when they retained you before hiring a new head coach?

Rob Ryan: That's a compliment. I appreciated Mr. Davis doing that for me, and I'm not going to let him down. This is the year to show up. We're not going to talk about it, we're just going to play great ball.

What do you want a Rob Ryan defense to look like?

Rob Ryan: First of all, I hope we see a tough group, and smart, and flies around to the football and makes things happen. I don't know if we've seen that every time, but we'll damn sure see it this year.

Does the speed allow you to be more creative as a coordinator?

Rob Ryan: I think it'll look like that because these guys are so damn fast. I mean, they just show up and I'm like, ‘How'd he get there?' So I mean it's a great group to work with. I know it's going to look great on Sundays, and looking forward to it.

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