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.
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 comfort zone.
"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 authority.
"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."
Notes:@LT Kwame Harris (knee), DE Derrick Burgess (shoulder) and SS Gibril Wilson (elbow) were all held out of practice. Harris and Burgess participated in the walkthrough portion of practice but were kept out of the rest of the workout. ... If Harris is unable to play against Kansas City, second-year tackle Mario Henderson will make his first NFL start.
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