By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 at 12:30 pm in Oakland Raiders.
It’s not as if the Raiders are giving away all their defensive secrets on a billboard for all to see, but it’s close.
That’s the way cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha described his team’s defensive philosophy Wednesday and the ability of opponents to attack it.
“We’re a team that chooses to be who we are regardless of who we’re playing against and regardless of the matchups or the things that the other team is going to present,” Asomugha said. “We’ve got one way of doing it and that’s what we do, and teams can get us into some tough situations. And teams know that, so communication can break down sometimes, just because we’ll see what other teams in the league won’t see, because of the nature of our defense, so it doesn’t matter what week it is.
“That stuff can happen in Week 16 if you’re not adjusting and you’re not adapting to who you’re playing against.”
Asomugha has a remarkable ability to sound reasonable and diplomatic while at the same time offer some justified criticism of his defense. Consider the following answer to the simple question, “What would you like to see different from the defense?,” which came in reference to Asomugha talking about a “simplistic” scheme.
Asomugha began a 537-word response by attempting to backtrack, only to end up in the same place _ wishing for a scheme with some variety.
Asomugha: “Simple sometimes can be good. I don’t know if simple is the right word. Simple can be good if you’re doing it right. If you’re the Bucs from earlier this decade and they’re a Cover 2 team, with some zone blitzing but it was still Cover 2. That was pretty simple for them but they were able to do it well.
“I think it’s just a matter of doing what we do, if that’s what we’re going into each game saying we’re going to do regardless of whether a team will game plan against it, which they’ve been doing and which they always do. It’s just doing it well. A lot of times it’s the player that’s going to be putting himself in the best position to make the play just because how our defense is. You have to be better than the guy in front of you. It’s not just the corners, it’s the d-line, it’s the linebackers. Because in that type of defense one missed gap and the ball is shot up for a run for a significant gain.
“It kind of speaks more to us being good at what we’re doing if that’s what we’re going to do. A guy like me, of course I say it all the time, I say it every week to coaches and they laugh and I’ll continue to do it until I leave the league. I’m a guy who likes to play the mental game with the offense. Whether you’re blitzing, whether you’re dropping back, whether you’re in zone.
“I was talking to you about Charles (Woodson) and he was saying how different it is for him to be somewhere where they do so many different things. That’s what I like, but if you’re not going to get it you have to make do with whatever system you’re in. You have to succeed in that system. Maybe we don’t want to be as multiple as other guys, maybe we don’t have to be. We have to prove that we’re good enough to win and play well doing the simple things that we’re doing. We’re not proving that right now.
“It’s not like we proved it last year or we proved it the year before. This is several years now where we haven’t been able to get over the hump of winning more than four or five games a year. Maybe you go back and you think about what we’re doing and think about ways to fix it.
“I was telling my coach earlier, Sean Payton said before the game against the Patriots. He was asked ‘Why is your defense so great?’ `What we did during the offseason is we studied the top defenses and we pulled from each of those defenses and it allows us to be multiple and it allows us to do the things that are working in the league today, the things that have been working the past few years.’
“The game changes, the game is never going to be the same as it was 10 years ago or five years ago with the rule changes and things like that. You have to be able to adapt. But it is what it is.”
UPDATE: During the media practice window, there was no sign of defensive end Greg Ellis, who left the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving with a swollen knee. Justin Fargas, who coach Tom Cable said was questionable Monday, was suited up and appeared to be joining the offense for practice.
More to come following Cable’s post-practice press briefing . . .