Defense taking shape without a DC

The most telling snippet from Rod Woodson’s interview with the NFL Network Monday came when he talked about potential changes in the Raiders’ defense and how it relates to the pending free agency of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.

“I think we’re going to do some things this year on the defensive side,” Woodson said. “Some more looks, some more things for the corners to make plays, get the football to face the football hopefully a little bit more so they can be interceptions and be playmakers for this defense.

“If we can do that, and if we can get Nnamdi Asomugha back in Oakland, one of the best corners in the NFL, it makes my job a lot easier.”

So the Raiders are apparently deep into discussing defensive philosophy and options, and currently do not have a defensive coordinator in place.

The knee-jerk reaction is to think the Raiders already have Chuck Bresnahan in place as a “defensive assistant” and that the club’s former coordinator will be become the current one. The fact that his title hasn’t changed is an indiction the Raiders may still be looking.

The stone silence out of Green Bay regarding Winston Moss could mean he is still in play, because there have been no denials of interest or declarations that he’ll stay with the Packers.

If Woodson’s comment is to be taken at face value, a coordinator hired from the outside will be entering a situation where some or much of the defensive philosophy has been decided without him by Al Davis and Hue Jackson.

Jackson insists Davis is letting him make all the decisions, but he also said he consults with him about everything. It’s the job of a defensive coordinator to take direction from his superiors, but usually they’re at least involved when it comes to recommending staff hires and implementing a playbook.

A few more Raiders notes and observations:

— Can Woodson really have an impact with regard to bringing back Asomugha? Some, but realistically, probably not much. It’s going to come down to a competitive offer. If a team with a playoff pedigree blows the Raiders out of the water, Asomugha can’t be expected to turn his back on millions of dollars because of the presence of a first-time assistant coach making a fraction of that. That’s not the way it works in the world of sports economics.

Davis already set the table for Asomugha’s departure on Jan. 18 when talked about using that money to get “two or three” players that could help.

With a competitive offer, then, sure playing for Woodson would be a plus.

— The reason Woodson’s hire has been greeted with universal acceptance throughout the national media is in large part due to the fact that he’s been a class act to deal with throughout his playing career as well as run as a television analyst. If you’ve ever spent 10 minutes around the guy, it’s easy to bet on him succeeding. But he’s never been a coach before and there are times I can remember him rolling his eyes in 2003 at the work habits of some of his teammates.

If Woodson can get those kinds of players to change, terrific. If not, he’ll be no better than anyone else.

— The franchise tags are beginning to pile up _ Michael Vick (Philadelphia), Logan Mankins (New England), Chris Harris (N.Y. Jets) and Vincent Jackson (San Diego). Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) will almost assuredly come soon and the Chiefs are expected to lock up Tamba Hali.

Note: Manning and Baltimore defensive lineman Haloti Ngata were both franchised.

Hard to believe the Raiders won’t use it on Richard Seymour in the absence of a signed long-term contract. Yes, Seymour has proclaimed his desire to stay in Oakland. But if Seymour were he to hit the free market and a team nearer to his home in South Carolina (Atlanta, perhaps?) comes calling with a big offer, he’ll look straight into the cameras and say he wanted to be a Falcon all his life.

— Here’s the necessary warning with regard to franchise players _ they mean nothing unless included in a new collective bargaining agreement.

— The Raiders haven’t made a transaction regarding a player since Jan. 5, the day they signed punter Glenn Pakulak to a reserve/future contract. No key players signed to contracts or extensions. No players released.

— The lawyer for Michael Bush says his client wasn’t drunk at the time of his arrest with a 0.7 blood alcohol level, even though he turned up at 1.1 at the jail. Regardless of how it plays out in the legal system, Bush will have his hands full explaining that away to an NFL representative representing commissioner Roger Goodell.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer