Despite being on the Oakland Raiders staff for just one season, defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley is already getting offers elsewhere. According to a report from DawgNation’s Mike Griffith, the University of Georgia is “strongly considering” Ansley for their open Defensive Coordinator position.
Ansley spent 13 years in college football before transitioning to the NFL. He has held numerous jobs including defensive backs coach at both Alabama and Kentucky among others. With both the Crimson Tide and Wildcats, he help the team’s secondary set new heights.
As the secondary coach with Kentucky in 2015, he helped the team set a new school record with six defensive touchdowns. His unit also finished second in the NFL with 23 turnovers.
His most impressive work arguably came at Alabama as he helped mentor many young studs in today’s NFL. Some of the players Ansley coached at Bama include: Jim Thorpe winner Minkah Fitzpatrick, first-rounder Marlon Humphrey, third-rounders Ronnie Harrison and Anthony Averett and All-Pro Eddie Jackson.
Furthermore, while with the Crimson Tide Ansley won two National Championships in 2011 and 2018. He helped the team’s defense finish fourth overall in passes defended with 85 and seventh in picks with 19 during the 2017 season.
Overall, Ansley has much more college experience than he does pros. With an opportunity to get a promotion in the coaching ranks, and a higher salary, there’s a very strong chance Ansley takes the position. If that becomes the case, it would be a very strong loss for the Oakland Raiders.
Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph look like two pieces to build around in the Raiders’ secondary. Both were former first round picks who struggled during their early time in the NFL. Under Ansley, they were both able to put together strong 2018 seasons.
Conley started 14 of the 15 games he appeared in, amassing 37 total tackles with three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and 15 passes defended. His three picks were tied for the highest among the team. Conley’s 15 passes defended were tied fifth in the entire NFL with players such as Jackson, Humphrey and Janoris Jenkins.
The former first-rounder received just an average 64 grade from Pro Football Focus. However, the site acknowledges that Conley looked much better down the stretch as he only allowed a catch rate of 54% and a passer rating of 72.8. Overall, Conley improved immensely under Ansley. He looks to be the teams CB1 and should have a role facing off against teams’ WR1 in 2019 and beyond.
Joseph started eight of his 13 games, racking up 48 tackles with two sacks and an interception. He received an above average 74.5 grade from PFF, the highest of his career. Joseph had the best season of his career under Ansley and received high praise from Head Coach Jon Gruden.
“He’s been a really good open field tackler. I think he’s showing really good range. He’s recognizing plays and he’s making plays. That’s exciting. He’s getting better and better in this defense.”
Joseph had a bounce back season in 2018 and looks to be apart of the team’s defense going forward. Under Ansley’s tutelage he went from a potential trade candidate to apart of the team’s secondary core.
Improving the play of Conley and Joseph was Ansley’s first priority. Both should continue to have big roles in the Raiders’ secondary going forward. But Ansley didn’t just stop there. The DB coach was able to coax solid play out of some of the team’s veterans.
Rashaan Melvin made 56 tackles with one interception and nine passes defended. PFF points out that when he lines up on the outside, he had a 3.9% run stop percentage, the highest of any outside cornerback in the past eight seasons.
Marcus Gilchrist started all 16 games for the Raiders and amassed 58 tackles with three interceptions and six passes defended. His three picks were tied with Conley for the team high. He had an up and down season according to PFF but was named to the site’s Week 10 Team of the Week after giving up just one catch for four yards and securing an interception.
Erik Harris appeared in all 16 games for the Raiders, starting four. He made 49 combined tackles with two interceptions and seven passes defended. He had not recorded an NFL stat prior to this season. Harris was voted to PFF’s Week 15 Team of the Week after making 3 tackles and defending two passes.
Ansley didn’t suddenly turn the Raiders’ secondary into a goldmine, but both Conley and Joseph had career years under him while other veterans put in strong performances. While it’s a small jump, the Raiders went from 26th to 19th in passing yards allowed under Ansley.
Ansley himself received high praise from Gruden in an interview with the Mercury News when he was hired.
“I think Derrick Ansley is going to be a star in this profession. Going to be a great secondary coach. Really excited to get him.”
If Georgia were to offer Ansley the role of defensive coordinator, it could be very hard to turn it down. He would have a much large role and a high salary. Ansley would also likely be on the fast track to a head coaching role at the college level.
If he does walk, the Raiders must find a defensive backs coach who can continue to build the groundwork for a strong secondary as Ansley did in 2018.