A proven coordinator + Raider alumni position coaches = A new era in Raider defense.
Al Davis is at it again.
The Oakland Raiders' owner is making off season moves when most owners are not willing to spend money or make big changes. Davis is giving head coach Hue Jackson and the Raider players their best chance to succeed since their 2002 Super Bowl run.
In a previous article, I discussed what the coaching changes would mean for the Oakland offense. This article will cover how the defense will be different for the 2011 NFL season.
Ultimately, games are won in the trenches and the Raiders have one of the best front fours in football.
This squad will remain virtually unchanged. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly will start at tackle, with John Henderson and Desmond Bryant providing depth and rest for the starters.
The defensive end positions will be manned by second year standout Lamarr Houston and third year man Matt Shaughnessy with Jarvis Moss, Tommie Hill and Trevor Scott all getting time in the rotation.
With Mike Waufle remaining on staff to coach the defensive line, all the team needs is another young, free agent tackle to round out the defensive line.
Hopefully, Mr. Davis and coach Jackson will address that as soon as the lockout ends—if it ever ends!
John Marshall has been let go as defensive coordinator and replaced by former Raider coach Chuck Bresnahan. Bresnahan was the Raiders' defensive coordinator when they won their last playoff game. His style is far more aggressive than Marshall's and the results are better all around.
In 2002, Bresnahan led the Raider defense to being ranked third against the run and eleventh overall. This is welcome news to most Raider fans, as the run defense has been pretty pathetic since Bresnahan left.
In a Bresnahan defense, the linebacker play will be very different than in Marshall's. Under Marshall, the linebackers played very soft. At the snap of the ball, their first step was either lateral or even backward.
This will absolutely not be the case under Bresnahan.
With Bresnahan at the helm, look for the Raider linebackers to play more "down hill" and create plays, instead of waiting for something to happen as they did under Marshall.
Adding former Raider fan-favorite Greg Biekert to coach the linebackers will make the transition to a new style of play much easier on this squad. Biekert already knows what Bresnahan expects from his players and fully understands his philosophy. As a former player himself, he knows how to communicate those expectations and philosophies to the players in a way they'll understand.
In the secondary, the Raiders have added one of the best cornerbacks to ever play the game as a position coach. Rod Woodson has been hired as "Assistant coach, cornerbacks."
This is a great thing, especially since all-world player, Nnamdi Asomugha is likely to be gone to free agency. The remaining cornerbacks will need all the coaching they can get in his absence.
Woodson is sure to get the most out of second year players Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware, rookies DeMarcus VanDyke and Chimdi Chekwa, as well as all the other cornerbacks on the roster.
Mr. Davis also brought in Kevin Ross to coach the safeties. Hopefully he can balance out the play of this unit.
Last year saw some issues crop up. Michael Huff was great in coverage, but a horrible tackler. Tyvon Branch was a great tackler, but pretty bad in coverage.
With the emergence of Mike Mitchell and continued growth of Stevie Brown, the Raiders have plenty of talent to move around if they lose Michael Huff to free agency. That said, consistency should still be priority number one for Ross.
In the end, the Bresnahan-run defense is likely to be much more aggressive than last year. Aggression will lead to more sacks and more turnovers. Sacks and turnovers lead to better field position for the offense. Better field position for the offense leads to more points on the board.
More points will translate into more wins.
Most "experts" are sleeping on the changes Davis and the Raiders are making, but who's really surprised by that? Not me.
What do you say Raider Nation? Where am I right? Where am I wrong? What did I miss? Let me hear you in the comments.
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