Monday, January 7, 2013

The Oakland Raiders Defense Needs a Major Overhaul

In case you missed it, Stanford football had a good year, losing only two games and winning the Rose Bowl. This was not in small part due to an excellent defense which at times looked dominating. If not for a letdown at Washington and a close call against Notre Dame, Stanford may have had a shot to play for a National Championship.  Had they been undefeated, their signature win over Oregon would have pushed them into the top 2 or 3.

Jason Tarver was defensive coordinator at Stanford in 2011 and helped build that excellent defense.  However, as Oakland Raiders Defensive Coordinator, he was less than spectacular in 2012.  Granted, the personnel on defense wasn't much to work with but it still falls on the DC to have something to show for your efforts overall.

Offensive Coordinator Greg Knapp had little to show for his efforts too and he was fired along with the offensive line coach AND linbebackers coach Johnny Holland.

So why would the LB coach be asked to leave and not the DC?  Was it Holland's fault Rolando McClain is a washout?  That Travis Goethel couldn't stay healthy (what else is new?)?   That Miles Burris was better suited on the outside than in the middle?  That there was no one else capable of playing MLB?

Somehow Tarver survived the purge but he won't be so lucky if the Raiders tank next season like they did in 2012.  Dennis Allen will be first out the door, followed closely by Tarver and possibly GM Reggie McKenzie.

The bottom line is Tarver is in the situation where he must make lemonade out of lemons. The Raiders front office has to help him out by swinging deals to bring in talent on defense. They must also draft superbly well and reel in quality free agents.

Let's look at the almost empty shelf that currently makes up the Raiders woeful defense.

The defensive line was once a Raiders strength but has pretty much deteriorated when Richard Seymour's arthritis or his knees or hamstring or whatever, made him a very expensive benchwarmer.  Seymour likely is now gone.  It is debatable whether Andre Carter has anything left to be an adequate replacement.  Probably not.

Matt Shaughnessy is now a free agent.  He never fulfilled the great promise he showed as a rookie, partially due to injuries.

The Raiders' best DL, Lamarr Houston will be heading into the final year of his contract in 2013 making a mere $575.000.  His agent is Drew Rosenhaus.  If Houston has another good season we can expect Houston/Rosenhaus to tell the Raiders to show him the money. We all know what that means.  Good luck keeping him around.

DL David Tollefson was barely part of the action as was rookie DL Jack Crawford.  DL Desmond Bryant is a FA and may not be invited back.

If nothing else, DL Tommy Kelly has proven he is not slacking off just because he's already been paid double digit millions.

OLB Phillip Wheeler is a bright spot.  You can look at OLB Miles Burris as a bright spot too if you want. To me he looked like a rookie and was beaten as often as he made plays.  Though he tallied a lot of tackles, it didn't really amount to much. He may not even win a starting OLB position on a team with better depth.

Journeyman LB Omar Gaither will be lucky to stick around and we can be sure Rolando McClain is going to be shopped around as trade bait.

Michael Huff is on the back side of his career but we can expect him to return.  He was awarded a 4 year 32 million dollar contract n 2011 that he is still lazily making his way through.  He's not the CB or Free Safety we need.

Our cornerbacks are pedestrian:  Brandian Ross, Coye Francies, Phillip Adams, Joselio Hanson are all bargain bin types. It's like the dollar store. You'll get usable merchandise in a pinch but is it really what you want?

The only guy worth keeping is FS Matt Giordano.  He's a playmaker and so is Tyvon Branch though he took a step back in 2012. Branch whiffed on tackles and basically looks a little shopworn, like a boxer that has taken too many hits to the head. NFL players do not have a long shelf life normally and Branch's body has taken a lot of abuse at Strong Safety lined up in the box.  He's not the force he was two+ years ago.  No, Mike Mitchell is not the answer either at SS.

Adding more bargain bin guys is not going to cut it.  Reggie McKenzie needs to pull off some good trades to rebuild this defense in a hurry.


Anonymous said...

Matt Giordano??? Really?!?! Of all the DB's to keep, he would be the first one to go! For every play he makes, he gives up another 5 and he is NOT a good safety by any stretch of the imagination!

Al's Wingman said...

what plays does he give up? all he does is make timely INTs, pass breakups, causes fumbles and he can tackle. All you need to do is look at what he did for the Dolts in the Super Bowl vs the Bears to see the type of player he is. You need playmakers. What FS on the roster is better than Giordano?