Five Things the Oakland Raiders Can Do to Turn Things Around

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Oct 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Sio Moore (55) reacts next to middle linebacker Miles Burris (56) after making a tackle behind the line of scrimmage against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

1. 55 is the Mike

Sio Moore, a 3rd round pick in 2013, has been one of the better players on a bad defense for the past two seasons. While his natural position is as a 4-3 Will linebacker who plays off the line and usually over the weakside offensive tackle, he has been used periodically as a 4-3 or 3-4 Sam linebacker and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver is fond of bringing Moore – who is a solid pass rusher – on blitzes from whatever spot he lines up in. With ostensible starting Mike linebacker Nick Roach and ostensible backup Mike backer Kaluka Maiava injured, the starting Mike backer duties have fallen to Miles Burris, who is not naturally a Mike linebacker himself.  Burris has done an awful job, rated near the bottom of all NFL linebackers by Pro Football Focus and continually being caught out of position or simply driven completely away from plays. While Burris has compiled a lot of tackles, most of them have been after a running back has already picked up 4+ yards on a carry.

Moore could improve the Mike linebacker spot. While not exactly the strong block-shedder we truly need in that position, Moore’s speed and strength and instincts would be an improvement over Burris, who often takes himself out of plays if he isn’t taken completely out of them by blockers. Moore won’t often shed a block by an offensive lineman to make a tackle himself, but he can quickly charge the line of scrimmage and fill, making contact with an offensive lineman near the point of attack and forcing the runner to make a cut or hesitate just a split-second. If other Raider players can get off their blocks or if the safeties can get up quickly enough, it could turn those 4-yard carries into 3-yard carries.

Neither Moore nor Burris – especially not Burris – are particularly good pass defenders, especially in man on man situations where they need to follow running backs out into the flat. This problem wouldn’t be solved by simply switching Moore and Burris’ roles, and would likely need to come by a few adjustments to scheme, which is the next item on the list: