AFC West: Darren Perry

The Green Bay Packers' unexpected pain may be the Oakland Raiders' unexpected gain.

With No. 1 seed -- and Super Bowl favorite -- Green Bay being shocked at home by the New York Giants on Sunday, the Raiders are now free to pursue any Green Bay assistant coach for their head-coaching opening.

Former Green Bay executive Reggie McKenzie was recently hired as the Raiders’ general manager. Among the candidates he could interview to replace the fired Hue Jackson includes Packers’ assistant Winston Moss, Dom Capers, Joe Philbin and Darren Perry. Former Miami interim coach Todd Bowles was interviewed Friday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier Sunday that the Raiders were expected to interview four candidates.

It was thought that the Raiders’ search could be delayed by the Packers’ season because no coach can be hired until after his season is over.

Well, the Packers are in the books, so McKenzie is free to plunder from his old home if he wishes.

Closer look at Oakland candidates

January, 11, 2012
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Now that the Oakland Raiders have fired Hue Jackson, new general manager Reggie McKenzie must find his replacement.

That means the former Green Bay executive will likely look at his former team. Among the top candidates are Green Bay assistants Winston Moss, Darren Perry and Joe Philbin. Other names are sure to emerge and fellow Green Bay assistants Tom Clements and Ben McAdoo have also been mentioned as possible candidates.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the coaches who may be the top candidates:

Winston Moss

Age: 46

Current job: Assistant head coach/inside linebacker coach, Green Bay

Head-coaching experience: None

Playing career: 11 NFL season as a linebacker, including for the Raiders from 1991-94

FYI: He has never been a defensive coordinator

Darren Perry

Age: 43

Current job: Secondary/safeties coach, Green Bay

Head-coaching experience: None

Playing career: NFL safety, 1992-2000

FYI: He coached for the Raiders from 2007-08

Joe Philbin

Age: 50

Current job: Offensive coordinator, Green Bay

Head-coaching experience: None

Playing career: He did not play in the NFL

FYI: He does not call the plays in Green Bay
With the Oakland Raiders searching for their seventh head coach since Jon Gruden was sent to Tampa Bay 10 years ago, let’s look at three key aspects the new coach must address.

Stability: The past three coaches in Oakland -- Lane Kiffin, Tom Cable and Hue Jackson -- all created their own drama at different times in their stay in Oakland. The days of the head coach in Oakland being a distraction must be over.

Penalties: The Raiders set NFL records for penalties and penalty yardage in 2011. I have a difficult time pinning that issue all on Jackson. The Raiders have historically been one of the most penalized teams in the NFL and Jackson tried to fix the issue. The new coach is going to have to figure out a way to cut down on this problem.

Defense: The Raiders haven’t hired a defensive-minded coach since John Madden was hired nearly 40 years ago. That may change as new Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie is a former linebacker himself. At least two of the expected candidates, Green Bay’s Winston Moss and Darren Perry, are defensive coaches. Changing philosophies may be a good idea. Oakland’s defense gave up way too many big plays in 2011 and is a primary reason why Oakland didn’t make the playoffs. Jackson talked about his willingness to move to a 3-4 defense. That may happen in the post-Jackson days. Green Bay runs a 3-4 defense, so if Moss or Perry is brought in, Oakland may make the switch. That would work in my mind. The Raiders have several natural 3-4 fits on defense. Whatever the method, the new coach in Oakland must improve this side of the ball.

Could be start of East Bay Packers

January, 10, 2012
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Don’t expect the Oakland Raiders to hire a new coach any time soon.

As it sits now, I expect the top candidates to be on the Green Bay Packers staff. I think new Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie – who came to Oakland from Green Bay – will consider Packers assistants Winston Moss, Joe Philbin and Darren Perry. However, none of these coaches can be hired until the Packers’ season is over — which could be as late as Feb. 6, the day after the Super Bowl. The Packers host the Giants in a divisional playoff game Sunday.

Expect other candidates to emerge, but I think the search starts with that trio. Former Green Bay (and Raiders) executive Ron Wolf — who, along with former Packers and Raiders personnel exec Ken Herock, has been advising new Raiders owner Mark Davis since his father's death — is comfortable with those coaches, and with the whole idea McKenzie being able to hire his own coach should be based on his feelings about the man he brings in. Wolf and Herock were very high on McKenzie, a former Raiders linebacker.

Expect the Green Bay connection to continue. Yes, we may be seeing the birth of the East Bay Packers. What’s wrong with that? The Packers are a model organization. I couldn’t think of a better team to emulate.

Because McKenzie has both Raiders and Packers ties, he could be bring an interesting blend of knowledge and direction to the Raiders moving forward.

And that’s why I expect him to stick with his roots and end up hiring one of the Green Bay assistants. By the way, Moss would be another example of having both Oakland and Green Bay roots. He, too, is a former Raiders linebacker.

It may take a while, but expect McKenzie to go to Titletown for the Raiders’ next chapter.

What faces Reggie McKenzie

January, 6, 2012
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Green Bay Packers executive Reggie McKenzie is expected to start his new job next week as the first general manager of the Oakland Raiders in the post-Al Davis era.

He is taking over a unique situation.

Unlike most teams that hire a new general manager, the Raiders’ focus will be on improving the current team rather than implementing wholesale roster changes.

The keys for the Raiders -- who are coming off back-to-back 8-8 season and are tied for the second longest playoff drought in the NFL -- is better play by quarterback Carson Palmer, the healthy return of running back Darren McFadden and improved play on defense.

Assuming McKenzie sticks with Hue Jackson as coach -- there have been rumblings Jackson could be in trouble (a longshot) -- the Raiders’ first order of business will likely be hiring a defensive coordinator. Chuck Bresnahan and some members of his staff are expected to be fired.

Perhaps McKenzie will try to bring a Green Bay assistant such as Darren Perry or Winston Moss with him, although the head coach usually plays a major role in hiring his assistants.

The Raiders have some free agents to address, including running back Michael Bush and safety Tyvon Branch. With Bush likely getting interest as a starter elsewhere, McKenzie may have to decide whether it gives Bush the franchise tag or let him walk.

It is going to be a quiet draft season for McKenzie as the Raiders currently only have fifth and sixth-round picks. They should also get two or three compensatory picks, yet none will be higher than the No. 97 pick near the end of the third round.

While McKenzie may not make a bunch of first-year splashes in Oakland, his team doesn’t really need more than some tweaking and in-house improvements.
It’s not official, but it appears Green Bay executive Reggie McKenzie will be hired as the new general manager of the Oakland Raiders. McKenzie is the first new decision maker in Oakland after the October death of owner Al Davis.

UDPATE: As expected, the Raiders confirmed the hire. There will be a press conference Tuesday.

Here are some initial thoughts:
  • It’s no surprise. McKenzie emerged as the leading candidate shortly after Davis’ death. He clearly impressed the Raiders in his Wednesday interview. While they were expected to look at several other candidates, it was McKenzie all the way.
  • What about Hue Jackson? ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that how much power McKenzie will have will be determined. But remember McKenzie was in a good situation in Green Bay and he would have had other opportunities in the future. He would have likely taken this only if the Raiders gave him significant say in the organization.
  • Where will it leave Jackson? He had been the primary decision maker since October and there have been whispers that perhaps a new general manager would want to bring in his own coach. The fact that the Raiders moved quickly to hire McKenzie may stoke that talk. Will Jackson be replaced? The odds are against it, but crazier things have happened.
  • McKenzie has Raider blood. He was a Raider linebacker from 1985-1988. Davis selected him in the 10th round of the draft nearly 27 years ago. Davis never knew he was choosing his replacement.
  • Former Davis associates Ron Wolf and Ken Herock have some influence with Mark Davis. Herock and Wolf recommended McKenzie to Davis and they were clearly listened to.
  • Are the Raiders going to become Green Bay West? It’s not the worst thing that could happen to the franchise. There has been talk that McKenzie could bring the Ron Wolf's son, Eliot, with him.
  • Does this mean Darren Perry and Winston Moss, two Green Bay assistants, could be in the mix? They were mentioned as head coaching candidates last year. Maybe one of them emerges as a defensive coordinator candidate or as a head coach if a change is made. Green Bay’s key free agents are tight end Jermichael Finley, running back Ryan Grant and quarterback Matt Flynn. None of those players fill an immediate need for the Raiders.
  • When will he be able to start the job? Under league rules, McKenzie can’t be hired until after the Packers’ season. That may not be until February. However, the Packers can let McKenzie move on. I bet they will. He has been a good soldier and it’s not like they need him for next week’s game plan.

I’ve known McKenzie for several years. He is a friendly, quiet and laid back guy. Don’t expect him to be a swash buckler. He is a football man who will put in his work. He will not a be a headlines maker and he won’t make moves just to make moves. He will bring stability to the franchise and will do what it takes to improve the team.

Remaining AFC West issues

February, 21, 2011
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Let’s address some of the lingering issues in the AFC West:

Will Oakland hire a defensive coordinator? There were many reports that speculated the Raiders could chase Green Bay’s Winston Moss or Darren Perry. The two men have been available for two weeks and there hasn’t been any reported movement. I think there is still a chance that Oakland could hire a defensive coordinator. But there is also a chance that it sticks with what it has. I know the Raiders are very pleased with the additions of Chuck Bresnahan and Rod Woodson and the promotion of Greg Biekert. They feel good about their defensive staff as it is currently assembled regardless of the defensive coordinator situation. Bresnahan was hired for an unspecified role, but he could still be given the top defensive job.

Will Shaun Rogers sign with Kansas City? The massive defensive tackle has also visited with Washington and New Orleans. There haven’t been any other reported visits. He is expected to make his decision within the next week or so. Right now, it’s a wait-and-see situation for the Chiefs.

Will Zach Miller be given the franchise tag? The deadline for Oakland to make the decision is Thursday. There was a report the Raiders were leaning toward giving Miller the franchise tag. However, there is a chance Oakland could gamble that Miller will be a restricted free agent as part of a new CBA and then work on a long-term deal.
If the Oakland Raiders want to pursue Green Bay linebackers coach Winston Moss to be their defensive coordinator, an obstacle has been removed.

The Arizona Cardinals have hired Pittsburgh assistant Ray Horton to be the defensive coordinator. It was reported that the Cardinals had asked for permission to speak to Moss.

There has been heavy speculation that Oakland could look at Moss or Green Bay secondary coach Darren Perry. With the Cardinals out of the mix, Oakland is free to pursue either. Tennessee is also without a defensive coordinator.

Oakland promoted Greg Beikert to linebacker coach Tuesday. The former Raiders star linebacker was a defensive assistant last season. Oakland hired former Oakland and Cincinnati defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan last week for an unspecific defensive coach position. There has been speculation Bresnahan could be made defensive coordinator if Oakland doesn’t hire a new defensive coordinator.

Oakland coaching update

February, 8, 2011
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Former Oakland star player Greg Biekert has been promoted to linebacker coach.

He was an assistant defensive coach last year. It has been speculated that new defensive hire Chuck Bresnahan would be linebacker coach if he is not made defensive coordinator. The Biekert promotion doesn’t necessarily will mean Bresnahan -- a former Raiders’ defensive coordinator -- will be promoted.

There has also been talk that Oakland will ask to interview Green Bay linebacker coach Winston Moss, but there hasn’t any reported developments. The Arizona Republic is reporting that the Cardinals have requested permission to talk to Moss about their defensive coordinator job. Oakland may need to hurry if it wants to hire Moss. Oakland could also potentially talk to Green Bay secondary coach Darren Perry about the opening.

If Oakland does hire an outside coordinator, there will always be room for Bresnahan, who was hired last week without a specific role.
We should find out fairly quickly if the Oakland Raiders are going to pursue an assistant coach from a Super Bowl participant to be their defensive coordinator.

There has been heavy speculation around the league that the Raiders, one of three teams without a defensive coordinator, have been waiting until after the Super Bowl to pursue a defensive coordinator. The speculation has centered around Green Bay secondary coach Darren Perry and Green Bay linebackers coach Winston Moss.

Perry is a former Oakland assistant while Moss is a former Raider player who has interviewed for a coaching spot in Oakland in the past. Both men have expressed interest in becoming a defensive coordinator. With the Super Bowl now in the books, Oakland can now ask permission to talk to assistant coaches. Scoring a young coach like Perry or Moss from the world champion Packers would be a real coup for Oakland.

Oakland hired Chuck Bresnahan -- who previously was the Raiders’ defensive coordinator -- last week without giving him an exact title. There has been speculation that Bresnahan could be made defensive coordinator if the Raiders don’t pursue another candidate. If Oakland does hire a new defensive coordinator, Bresnahan would likely be the team’s linebackers coach.

Chuck Bresnahan back in Oakland

February, 1, 2011
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As expected, Chuck Bresnahan has been added to Oakland’s coaching staff.

The team just announced it. However, Bresnahan does not have a specific role on the staff. He is simply being referred to as a defensive coach.

I would bet Bresnahan is either going to be the defensive coordinator or linebackers coach. If Oakland can land an attractive target, it likely would hire a new defensive coordinator. Potential targets are Green Bay linebackers coach Winston Moss and Green Bay secondary coach Darren Perry. Moss and Perry can’t talk to other teams until after Sunday’s Super Bowl.

So, it could be a while before the Oakland defensive staff shakes out. But it's clear Bresnahan will be a big part of the staff. Bresnahan was Oakland’s defensive coordinator from 2000-03. The Raiders won three consecutive AFC West titles as part of that stretch. He later was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator. Bresnahan was last in the UFL. He and new Oakland coach Hue Jackson were on the Bengals’ coaching staff together.

“Chuck brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and we welcome him back,” Jackson said in a statement released by the team. “I worked with him in Cincinnati and he is fiery, a motivator and a teacher.”

If Bresnahan becomes defensive coordinator, Oakland could likely stay with a 4-3 defense. That has been his scheme history.

Oakland DC search update

January, 30, 2011
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Recently, the Oakland Tribune floated the name of Green Bay secondary coach Darren Perry as a possible candidate in Oakland as defensive coordinator. It had been reported that Philadelphia was going to be in hot pursuit of Perry after Green Bay plays in the Super Bowl next Sunday.

Now there is talk that Perry may not be the Eagles’ top target. So perhaps Oakland can get involved. Green Bay runs a 3-4 defense, as do the New York Jets. It was reported that Oakland was denied permission to talk to Jets’ secondary coach, Dennis Thurman. It will be interesting to see if the Raiders end up hiring a coach well versed in the 3-4. The Raiders have been running 4-3 defense as their base scheme with some 3-4 sprinkled in.

Oakland has several front-seven players who are natural fits for the 3-4. If Oakland doesn’t hire a defensive coordinator this week, it could be a sure sign the Raiders are waiting to talk to a Super Bowl participant such as Perry or Green Bay linebackers coach Winston Moss.

Meanwhile, I have received a lot questions from readers if Oakland could be interested in either Philadelphia quarterback Kevin Kolb or Tennessee quarterback Vince Young. ESPN has reported their respective teams would like to trade the players.

I don’t think the Raiders will try to trade for Kolb. He’d be expensive and the Raiders like Jason Campbell as a starter. If Young gets no interest as a starter, I could see the Raiders signing him as a backup if he was cut by the Titans.

AFC West news and notes

January, 27, 2009
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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

• The Chargers say they will stay in San Diego in 2009. The chances of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles will increase if a stadium deal in San Diego isn't figured out.

• The Kansas City Star handicaps potential coaching candidates for the Chiefs' opening. There have been no reported interviews. The speculation remains that the team will pursue Arizona offensive coordinator Todd Haley after the Super Bowl.

• Denver linebacker D.J. Williams had rotator cuff surgery. He'll be ready for training camp.

• Former Seattle and San Francisco assistant John Marshall is expected to talk to the Oakland Raiders about their defensive coordinator job as the Raiders continue to try to compile a coaching staff without naming a full-time head coach. Also, former Oakland defensive backs coach Darren Perry is now Green Bay's safeties coach.

The Chargers have re-signed eight players for the 2009 season. They are: linebacker Eric Bakhtiari, wide receiver Gary Banks, running back Eldra Buckley, defensive end Andre Coleman, guard Brandyn Dombrowski, cornerbacks Grant Mason and DeJuan Tribble and defensive tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo. All of the players except Tribble signed for one year. Tribble signed for two years.

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