Breaking down the Oakland Raiders offseason moves and how they translate to the potential schemes that the coaching staff might use in 2016.
As expected the Raiders were huge players in the first wave of free agency. Luckily for the fans and the franchise, the Raiders were not throwing around ridiculous deals with long term impact. Instead, Reggie did what Reggie does and put together three tremendous contracts for three big time free agents. These three free agents, Sean Smith, Kelechi Osemele, and Bruce Irvin are all considerable additions that will have a significant impact for this team. What Reggie added was three new toys and these toys give the Raiders flexibility and options.
Ultimately what was done in the first days of free agency was keep this team open to anything rather than decide on a specific scheme. This was a big question for me coming into this offseason, and although I expected this defense to focus in an a scheme, they instead chose to keep themselves scheme flexible which in itself can be a huge advantage.
Some defenses like the Seahawks are impressive because they stick to strict preferences in the players they pursue and they allow their players to master a simple scheme. The Patriots under Bill Belichick are the complete opposite of this and watching them has been a fascination of mine for many years.
The Patriots do not use a set front, instead they flow between a 34 and 43 frequently. They find personnel that do certain things well and then design their cap control concepts to fit that personnel regardless of the formation. It is very similar to what the Raiders did last season, although the Raiders did tend to lean towards a 34 defense at their best. The additions the Raiders have made will allow the Raiders to blend the lines between looks but use their personnel in a way that fits their skill set.
Ken Norton Jr has not shown himself to be an elaborate blitzer, but he does like to utilize stunts and twists with his defensive fronts. With two highly agile edge rushers and rapid blitzers inside, Ken Norton Jr will be able to get much more movement up front to create chaos without putting his defensive backs on an island.
What the Raiders at this moment lack is a safety to help them be more versatile with their defensive backfield. Now that Weddle has gone on to the Ravens, the only two options available are Rashad Johnson and restricted free agent Tony Jefferson. The Raiders reportedly checked in with Jefferson and it may be in the near future that the team chooses to send him an offer sheet.
With the Cardinals recently trading for Chandler Jones, they have made it dramatically harder on themselves to retain Jefferson. Adding a player like Jefferson who can play both safety positions, but leans towards strong safety would be ideal. He has also played cornerback and linebacker. Jefferson is strong in the box and in man coverage. His addition would give the Raiders a solid safety duo that can play any coverage concept including the cover one and cover three.
Following are some thoughts on the Raiders recent offseason activity and what it sets up for the team going forward.