Dennis Allen might be the one in the spotlight but it is Jason Tarver that will feel all the pressure. Anyone with any understanding of football knows that if the Oakland Raiders had a halfway decent defense they would have won the AFC West going away.
Tarver’s task is to get the defense somewhere in the neighborhood of the offense. That might sound easy but consider how many defensive coordinators, defensive players and defensive coaches have changed over the years with the results looking very similar in the East Bay.
Yes, the Al Davis scheme will no longer be forced on the staff.
Yes, this is a new era.
However there are some lingering issues Tarver will have to take care of in order for this defense to get up to playoff caliber. Here is Tarver’s to-do list.
1) Stop the Run – Yeah, this one is beyond obvious. You get the feeling the Raiders couldn’t stop Stephen Hawking from running on them. This run defense was historically bad last season which is saying something when you consider how horrible the Oakland run defense has been for the past 9 years. Some of that was due to Mr. Davis’ draw-it-up-in-the-dirt scheme. Part of it is a general lack of discipline. No matter the problem Tarver needs to fix it…yesterday!
2) Improve the Secondary – This goes beyond implementing a new scheme. The personnel must change. For starters the scholarship program needs be done away with. Re-signing both Michael Huff and Hiram Eugene was a horrible mistake. Why re-sign two players that play a similar position yet neither have played said position at a high level? In addition, the notion of replacing Nnamdi Asomugha with rookies and cast-off vets was laughable. Mix coverages, find better talent and make the secondary a turnover creating machine. You don’t need to be elite if you can take the ball away often enough.
3) Upgrade at Linebacker – I don’t care who your defensive coordinator is, if he’s being forced to play Quentin Groves on one side and Kamerion Wimbley on the other then he’s conceding the inability to stop the run. Groves was replaced by Aaron Curry who is still under review. Wimbley is a pass rusher and not a consistent one at that. This team needs the proper personnel in place and it doesn’t take 13 draft picks nor does it take $50-million to spend on free agents. For a second forget about getting athletes and instead concentrate on finding football players. Tarver’s task isn’t completely in his hands he’ll need help from the front office. However it is on him to mold whatever talent comes his way into an improved defensive unit.
4) Make Rolando McClain a Playmaker – The clock is ticking on the McClain experiment. He does some things well but nothing great. He never jumps out at you on tape and he’s routinely invisible. McClain’s athletic ability makes you think he would be a factor but his approach leaves you wanting much more. Tarver must light a fire under McClain even if that means opening the middle linebacker job up to competition in camp. Again, the scholarship program must end. We’ve given McClain a pass as he learns on the job but it didn’t take three years for guys like Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher to show what they’re made of. McClain’s development has been delayed for sure but as a man in a position of leadership he’s got show more initiative.
5) Blitz! Blitz! Blitz! – No more of these antiquated theories on defense. Yes, you’d love to rely on your $100-million defensive line to get all the pressure with no help. But those offensive linemen get paid pretty well too. With all the Raider speed on defense it is time to get a modern scheme in place that disguises blitzes and puts pressure on the quarterback in a multitude of ways.
Tags: Aaron Curry Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Brian Urlacher Dennis Allen Hiram Eugene Jason Tarver Kamerion Wimbley Michael Huff Nnamdi Asomugha Quentin Groves Ray Lewis Rolando McClain