Several factors contribute to make a good football team great. It's one thing to have a group of great players, but it's another thing when you can get all of the components of your team to work together well.
This is often referred to as "chemistry." Defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan could be the piece that the Raiders coaching staff needs to help the Raiders improve their chemistry and rank amongst the NFL elite.
Bresnahan has coached for the Browns, Colts, Raiders and is the former defensive coordinator for Bengals. During his three year tenure in Cincinnati, Bresnahan never was able to get the Bengal's defense above 25th in the league and dropped as low as 29th. So, why is he in Oakland?
Well, the last time Bresnahan was with the Raiders (2000-2003), they ended up in the Super Bowl. Was he the primary factor that made the difference?
Probably not, but Gruden has spoken highly of him. During his four years with the Raiders, the defense went from 17th 10th and then to 30th in total yards. Prior to his arrival, they were ranked 10th. Again, why is he in Oakland?
In all fairness, there are several things that contribute to a defenses success or failure: free agents, injuries, salary cap issues, etc. Bresnahan shouldn't be solely blamed for a team's failure. However, his track record with the Raiders and the Bengals—with the exception of a few years—isn't anything to brag about. Both defenses improved and then greatly declined after he arrived. So what does he bring to Oakland?
Bresnahan brings passion, intensity and a wealth of knowledge. This isn't to knock John Marshall, but he doesn't cross me as the fiery type that would make you want to go make a play. This is where Bresnahan excels.
He is known for establishing great rapport with players, being a good teacher and his defenses are aggressive. He puts in major hours studying defensive schemes and is truly a student of the game.
He returns to Oakland with Mike Waufle as a defensive line coach—who coached the Giants defense that went to the Super Bowl—and has the experience of working with Jon Gruden during the Raiders Super Bowl run and Hugh Jackson from when he was in Cincinnati.
In addition, Defensive Backs Coach Rod Woodson and Linebacker Coach Greg Biekart played for Bresnahan as Raiders, making it rather easy for them to coordinate game plans. The Raiders defense ranked 10th in the NFL in total yards last season and if he can make them more aggressive, they could move to the top five.
Bresnhan's individual coaching record isn't great, but when you combine Bresnahan's methods with those of Hue Jackson and Al Sanders, you have a nucleus of coaches that are exceptional motivators, teachers and confidence builders on both sides of the ball.
This isn't a statistic that you can find in a column, but these factors can make a good team great and turn a great team into champions.
Bresnahan may just be the piece the Raiders need to take them into the postseason and back to where they were the last time he was in Oakland—the Super Bowl.