Remembering the past is a way of looking forward to the future. I relive Raiders glory days by recalling the menacing defenses of the past. Players like Ted Hendricks, Willie Brown, Lester Hayes, Lyle Alzado, and Howie Long always cross my mind. These are only a microcosm of the many talented and bone crushing Raiders that were on display during their years of play, but this is how I am able to look forward to the future of our defense.
General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Head Coach Dennis Allen are doing the job of bringing in the right players. Yesterday, Defensive End Lamarr Houston was asked if he thought chemistry was an issue for the defense. His response was, “Reggie (McKenzie) and D.A. (Dennis Allen) did a good job of getting the guys that they want for this team and guys that fit with the team. Chemistry is already there.”
Good and great defenses of past had one thing that made them stand out from the rest, chemistry. Players must buy into the system that they are playing under, but players must be able to get along and be able to feed off the intensity and play of the others. When one player is having a good day on the field, the other players must be able to channel that energy and step their games up. This will ensure that the defense is gelling.
It takes leadership from all facets of the defense to make sure this occurs. From the defensive line, to the linebackers, and ultimately the secondary, there must be a leader that steps up to drive the others and instill the belief that greatness can happen. According to Coach Dennis Allen, Lamarr Houston has stepped up on the defensive line and emerged as a leader for that group. Likewise, Nick Roach and Charles Woodson have also emerged as leaders for their respective groups.
One quote stood out for me as I listened to Lamarr Houston’s interview. He was asked if he thinks about getting sacks and pressuring the quarterback to improve his stats. Houston replied, “The things I think about are team goals. I want this team to do well. Your personal goals only come from achieving your team goals.”
A leader is only as good as the people he or she is leading. Greatness is only achieved when others are performing their jobs. The only way for the others to perform their jobs well is for the great players, or leaders, to step up their game and lead by example. It sounds like Lamarr Houston is finding that leadership.
Ultimately, with the leadership in place, the chemistry will continue and drive this defensive team to the next level. Hearing that the defense is gelling, it makes me excited to usher in the new era of Raiders Football. Raider Nation will be even more rowdy as the defense will fuel their fire. A great quote from the late and great Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant comes to mind, “Offense sells tickets, but Defense wins championships.” This quote has held true throughout the years for many teams who have won championships. Will it hold true for the Raiders?