ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Rob
Ryan insists there are no problems between him and Lane Kiffin but
bristled at suggestions by the head coach that owner Al Davis is
involved in the weekly game plans.
A day after Kiffin distanced himself from the defense in the
aftermath of Oakland's 41-14 loss to Denver in Monday's season
opener, Ryan accepted full responsibility for the Raiders' dismal
defensive performance. He tried to deflect attention away from his
players during a colorful and animated 18-minute tirade.
"That's all on me. I put the game plan in, I run the defense,
and it's all on me," Ryan said Thursday. "I just want to set it
straight because I've been here five years and I don't think people
necessarily have the right story.
"I'm disappointed, but I just wanted to tell my side of the
story for once because there's so many other things that come out
where I have to read it and take it and I just want the truth as I
know the truth."
The entire Raiders organization was left searching for answers
following the lopsided loss to the Broncos in front of a sellout
crowd at McAfee Coliseum and a national television audience.
With a young quarterback in JaMarcus Russell, an offensive line
that surrendered 41 sacks last season and an injury-plagued
receiving corps, many expected Oakland to struggle offensively this
year. Defensively, though, the Raiders seemed set.
Instead, after spending nearly $170 million to sign players like
defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Nnamdi
Asomugha and safety Gibril Wilson, Oakland's defense was taken
apart methodically and convincingly by Denver quarterback Jay
Cutler passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns and, most
significantly, did not get sacked once. In a statistical rarity,
the Raiders also failed to register a single quarterback hurry or
knock down a pass from Cutler.
That led to a flurry of questions for Kiffin, who was asked why
the team didn't blitz more in an effort to knock Cutler out of his
"Rob and the owner [Davis] are always in communication,"
Kiffin said Wednesday. "For the most part, I let Rob do his thing
over there. He has a belief in certain things and he has a
conversation with the owner about that. So, that wasn't the way the
game plan ended up the other night."
Control of the defense was one of the issues that came between
Davis and Kiffin in the offseason. Kiffin wanted to change
coordinators but Davis insisted that Ryan stay on board. That
dispute led Davis to send Kiffin a letter of resignation to sign,
but the coach refused and is back for a second season.
In training camp, Ryan insisted his relationship with Kiffin was
fine, a point he reiterated Thursday.
"[Heck] yeah," Ryan said. "I've worked, it seems, like 100
years in coaching ... and you have a chain of command and the head
coach is in charge. He's in charge and I'm sure he's just as
disappointed in me in the way things went Monday night and the job
that I did. That's just the way it is. I've never had a problem
with authority. I was brought up right and I always respect
"We have communication, but understand, my job's to be the
defensive coordinator, and Lane's the head coach. He's got a
million hats; I've only got one. Eventually the whole thing comes
down to me being a better coach and doing a better job."
Ryan bristled, however, at suggestions he meets with Davis -- the
team's 79-year-old owner - on a weekly basis to go over the
Raiders' defensive game plans.
"I meet with Mr. Davis in the offseason," Ryan said. "That
thing is just [wrong], and I want to make sure you got it right. I
meet with the owner in the offseason. He's the boss, he's the man
that hired me, and that's been well-documented. I don't meet with
him on game plans or come up with all this. It's amazing when
things like this come out when we have a bad week. Put it on me,
that's where it belongs. I'm the man that runs the defense.
"That's what I'm up here for. We have to bounce back. It's not
one of my players. It's me right here, all on me."