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Friday, June 02, 2006

Oakland Raiders Defensive Positional Analysis

Well we went through the offense by position yesterday, so today lets take a look at our defense. The biggest additions on defense this season were made through the Draft. The Raiders already possess a young defense and by improving it through the draft, they are striving to ensure the defense will be a talented unit for years to come.

The starting corners are pretty much set with Asomugha and Washington. Asomugha is entering his fourth season and still hasn't intercepted a pass. Critics are usually quick to point this out but they are overlooking the fact that he has been very solid in coverage and prior to last season, the pass rush was non-existent. Asomugha will continue to improve and with additional help in the secondary (Huff) and a little extra pressure (Johntstone), Asomugha should continue to improve and have a quality season. I've heard many critics and "experts" say that Fabian Washington struggled in his rookie outing. I really didn't see that. I saw him get beat on occasion but I also saw him play very well. He should continue to improve this season and I fully expect him to develop into a quality coverage corner.

Schweigert is entering his third season and has shown good coverage skills. He still hasn't become the ball-hawk he was at Purdue but he has been pretty solid in coverage. His troubles have come in the tackling department. I'm sure working on his tackling is a priority this offseason. If he can improve his tackling he will be a quality starting Free Safety.

It is finally time for the Gibson experiment to be over. Rookie Michael Huff will shore up a position that has been a need for quite some time. In an pre-Draft interview, Huff said when he talked to the Raiders, they were planning to use him the way the Steelers use Pro-Bowler Troy Polamalu. Huff will be all over the field and if used correctly, he has a shot at defensive Rookie of the Year. He is also wearing No. 24 which is a pretty big number to live up to in the Raider organization.

Just a side note: If you are keeping track the Raiders starting secondary has 6 years of combined experience. The future for this unit could be bright.

Danny Clark has filled the middle linebacker spot amazingly since arriving in Oakland two seasons ago. He had 129 tackles in 2004 and 113 last season but his biggest contibution is the leadership he displays to this young defense. At 29 years old, he is one of the oldest players on the defense.

Sophomore Kirk Morrison led the team in tackles last season with 116. Not bad for a rookie. He stepped up and filled a huge hole last year and he should continue to improve this season. He is also an Oakland native so his career for the Raiders should be a long one. At the other outside linebacker position, there is more of a question mark. Sam Williams is healthy again and has played great but he is very injury prone. If he stays healthy this season, the other OLB position will be his. If not, there will be a battle with rookies Thomas Howard and Darnell Bing along with Free Agent acquisition Robert Thomas.

Last season Derrick Burgess came in from Philly and gave a the Raiders a remarkable pass rush. He led the NFL with 16 sacks and earned a plane ticket to Hawaii. With Lance Johnstone returning to the Silver and Black, the pass rush should be dominant. Johnstone played for the Raiders from 1996 through 2000. He sacked opposing Quarterbacks 7.5 times last season and will most likely only play passing downs for the Raiders this year. Former first round pick, Fourth year player, Tyler Brayton will be returning to the defensive end position. He is good against the run and hopefully he will come back strong this year. He will be needed to contain the dangerous running backs of the AFC West.

The only player with credentials on the Defensive Line is Warren Sapp. He struggled two seasons ago in the 3-4 scheme but was enjoying a nice come back last season after returning to the 4-3 before getting injured. Sapp had 5 sacks in 10 games last year. If he can stay healthy this season he should be able to provide problems for opposing interior offensive linemen. Who will be at the other starting DT position is still up for grabs. Tommy Kelly and Terdell Sands are the most likely candidates but there are some hoping that the young and troubled Anttaj Hawthorne can step up and be the player he was in college.

That pretty much sums up the Raiders defense. They are a young unit but are also a unit with a lot of talent. This defense could step up and suprise some opponents this season. I am excited to see how the secondary plays this season. They could end up being very good. The weakest spot is the DTs. Other than Warren Sapp there isn't any proven players. There is a chance a Free Agent could be picked up to fill the void but look for this position to be filled in next year's Draft.


Blogger Calico Jack said...

Analyzer: I really like your new blog. Solid analysis.

I'm really excited about our D. We now have the players,speed,and atleticism for DC Ryan to cuts the D loose and play a more attacking and aggresive style.

We have added pass rushers (Brayton playing his natural DE position, Johnstone, plus Bing, Howard, and Huff off the edge). We also have a better, deeper LB corps who can play in pass coverage. We also have a safety who can cover TEs (Huff). Overall, the pieces are in place for this young D to take a BIG step forward in 06.

Keep up the good work with your blog.

6/02/2006 7:06 PM  
Blogger The Analyzer said...

They should be much improved this year and if we can keep this unit together, they have the potential to be great for years.

6/05/2006 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Blastin said...

Loosing Ted W. hurts. Our DLine was doing very well early on. I thought our weakness for past few years has been linebackers. Granted our new guys boasted a ton of tackles, but after 7 yard gain. We need speed and aggressiveness in our linebacking core. I think we should put some out speedy new guys in there just to fly around and mess up plays. Way too often I saw our dbacks making the first hits...after large gains. Would be nice if they were simply coming in to finish off tackles.

6/06/2006 5:56 PM  
Blogger frkyraider said...

what we really need to happen is for huff to explode!!! be the guy that makes everything work, be the leader that this unit is lacking at the moment. i like clark (our most leader like player) and what he has brought to the team. i like what morrison is all about. he may be the leader we're lookin for after all is said and done. but from what i've heard (thanx stick'em) and read this Huff kid IS that type of leader. it's funny how one little thing effects another in football. we need a catalyst, Huff just may be it!!

6/06/2006 6:37 PM  

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