Now that Al Saunders has his name on an office door in Alameda, it’s time to fill that vacant defensive coordinator position. Not that it will matter much who gets the gig. Either way we’re going to be watching the Al Davis scheme on Sundays. 4-3 base, heavy bump and run, one deep safety with minimal blitzing. That’s the Al Way and it ain’t changing anytime soon.
Since we know no matter who the DC is they’ll be under the influence of Davis, the most important aspect of all will be the personnel. Davis made no secret of his reasoning behind promoting Hue Jackson. “To win games you’ve got to score points.” Of course even Al knows you won’t have much success if you can’t also stop teams from scoring. More importantly, you can’t stop teams from scoring if you can’t stop the run.
And that is exactly what the Raiders have been unable to do for the last 8 years. Partly due to scheme, mostly due to personnel, the time has come to make the defense a top priority.
If Jackson is the offensive genius he’s perceived to be then scoring should not be a problem no matter the circumstances. Another healthy year from Darren McFadden, more improvement from the young receiving core and more consistency from Jason Campbell should assure the offense will be as good if not better than this past season.
While Rolando McClain took about half the season to find his stride, once he was up to speed the top pick from Alabama began to show plenty of promise as a playmaking middle linebacker. But he’s going to need help, specifically at the weak side linebacker. Trevor Scott got a look there before being moved back to end. Quentin Groves somehow became the default starter and did make some plays during the season. But overall this is a position of top priority this offseason.
In the secondary there are plenty of questions. Will Nnamdi be back? How about Stanford Routt? If one or both of these two starting corners depart then where will the Raiders look to address their needs?
Keep in mind there isn’t a first round pick this year…at least not yet. Given the fact that there are two corners that could be top 10 picks this year, it could be difficult for Davis not to make a move of some sort.
Beyond the corners there is also the need to finally find a free safety to become a mainstay. Michael Huff has finally fulfilled his rookie contract and while he’ll never live up to his draft status he has shown more in the last two seasons than in any of his previous years in the NFL. However Michael Mitchell is also showing plenty of promise and he too has a certain infamous draft status to live up to.
With so much to do on defense, it is a little disconcerting that the initial moves made by the front office have been all about the offense. We haven’t even begun to discuss the Richard Seymour situation yet. Naturally the personnel decisions will be affected by the current labor situation but that shouldn’t preclude this team from assembling the defensive coaching staff.
More to come later on all of the above. Let’s just hope that the ‘D’ is not forgotten in Oakland.
Topics: Al Davis, Al Saunders, Darren McFadden, Hue Jackson, Jason Campbell, Michael Huff, Michael Mitchell, Nnamdi Asomugha, Quentin Groves, Richard Seymour, Rolando McClain, Stanford Routt, Trevor Scott