I worked for the Patriots from 2005-2008, right after Richard Seymour signed his big contract. In New England, we all knew there were two versions of Seymour. The Seymour who played with a chip on his shoulder and the one who just went through the motions.
Let me give you an example.
Before the 2007 AFC Championship Game versus San Diego, Chargers C Nick Hardwick called out Seymour, suggesting he was soft. Seymour didn’t take kindly to those comments.
During the pregame activities, Seymour was barking at the Charger players and pumping up his teammates. That isn’t a usual scene for the normally laid back Seymour.
Once the game started, Seymour dominated from start to finish. He was a constant disruption and lived in San Diego’s backfield. Officially, Seymour only registered three tackles on the stat sheet but anyone who watched that game knows the havoc he caused for the Chargers offense.
Now I take you back to Seymour’s first game with the Raiders, once again against Hardwick and the Chargers. Seymour wasn’t happy about being traded and wanted to prove to the Patriots that he was still a great player.
The result? Another dominating performance with six tackles and two sacks.
The reason the Pats let Seymour go is because he didn’t play like this all the time and Oakland fans saw some examples of that last season. At times, Seymour played like a man possessed but in other games he was non-existent.
That kind of inconsistency is the reason Bill Belichick and Co. didn’t want to give Seymour another huge contract.
The Raiders brought Seymour in to help them sure up their run defense. If you want to be literal, Seymour’s presence helped.
Oakland allowed 155.5 yards per game on the ground in 2009, down from 159.7 the previous year. That’s probably not the kind of improvement the Raiders had in mind when they traded a first-round pick for Seymour.
The Raiders have a chance to field a strong defense in 2010 but they need someone to take charge and be a leader. That’s why Al Davis traded for Seymour and is paying him over $12 million this year.
Seymour is the one with three Super Bowl rings. He knows what it’s like to be in big games.
While he may not be brash or give a lot of pre-game pep talks, it’s time for Seymour to take on a bigger role and lead by example. That means playing at 100 percent, every game, every down.
Richard Seymour can still be one of the NFL’s premier defensive linemen. Considering he’s playing for a new long-term contract, my guess is that’s the Seymour we will see in Oakland this season.