Skip to main content

The Raiders Linebacker Problem

The strength of the Raiders defense as everyone knows is the defensive line. It is anchored by six-time pro-bowler Richard Seymour and 300-pounder Tommy Kelly. The defensive line also features two young stout defensive ends, Matt Shaugnessey and Lamarr Houston. This season has also featured plays by run stuffing 330 pounder John Henderson and a resurgent Jarvis Moss. This unit is the undeniable strength of the defense.

Coming into this season the biggest question regarding the Raiders defense was in the secondary. With Nnamdi leaving, the spotlight has been on Stanford Routt and he has quietly delivered. Tyvon Branch has made his fair share of plays, but he's still working to improve his consistency. These two starters of the secondary are the only two starters that have stayed healthy and that played four games. Michael Huff, Chris Johnson, Mike Mitchell and DeMarcus Van Dyke have all missed time and the backups have played like backups. Once these four players return the play and potential of the secondary unit will come into focus.

What about the linebackers? Coming into the season, they were neither the strength of the defense nor the weakness. This unit has two former 1st round picks in Rolondo McClain and Kamerion Wimbley and a 2nd round pick in Quentin Groves. Since week 1, the Raiders linebackers have been struggling. The biggest problem with this unit is that Wimbley and Groves were both drafted into this league primarily on their pass rushing abilities and not their outside linebacker skills. Both of these men, are outside rush linebackers in a 3-4 system or a defensive end in the nickel or dime in passing situations. The problem with this unit is that Groves and Wimbley are not 4-3 outside linebackers.

McClain is a work in progress. Some plays, he makes a pass deflection or he makes the correct read, fills the correct gap and stuffs the run. But too often, he is slow to react, plays too high, takes bad angles and is easily sealed off. McClain can be a quality run stuffing middle linebacker but right now he needs his outside linebacker to back him up when he makes mistakes. Unfortunately for McClain, his outside linebackers are not linebackers who fit the system. This season is not the season to give up on McClain, the Raiders are putting him a very difficult position.

Wimbley and Groves can still find a home with the Raiders. Groves is not a financial liability and could actually provide quality depth in the linebacker or defensive line unit. Given that he isn't relayed upon to produce as the starting outside linebacker. Wimbley, whose new contract is deserved, is his best and provides the most value when played at defensive end.

With Groves and Wimbley at outside linebacker the Raiders are trying to put a square peg in a round hole. Wimbley and Groves provide another example of how Al Davis loves size and speed. Having Wimbley and Groves start at outside linebacker is an experiment. This experiment has resulted in the Raiders owning the worst run defense in the league. Groves and Wimbley both need to quickly complete the transformation into quality 4-3 outside linebackers. If not, Oakland's run defense will continue to be embarrassed and the Raiders will have to give up the experiment. If the Raiders are to win the AFC West and be playoff team, something has to change.


  1. Very good read and right on target. So what do we do? Houston might run all over us with their zone-blocking style. I hope they figure it out quick...

  2. we need our deffense to stay healthy guys come on now man !!!!!!

  3. XilovebreakxdownsxOctober 6, 2011 at 5:47 AM

    this years draft has to be a weekside linebacker early but a corner 1st but mcclain will be good one he gets pices around him i think hes just trying to do too much

  4. lance briggs is needed put wimbley at the end and rotate matt and lamar


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Oakland Raiders Swing for the Fences in 2016 NFL Draft

[embed align="center"][/embed] These aren't your daddy's Oakland Raiders or even your younger self's Raiders. If anything, these are your newborn's Raiders or your puppy's Raiders. These are the Raiders we've never seen before. Indicative of the freshness of the franchise was their 2016 NFL Draft. No longer slave to a high draft pick and desperate needs, the theme of the draft for the Raiders was upside. It's as if general manager Reggie McKenzie got so used to hitting his draft picks out of the park that he started swinging for the fences. We'll have to wait a couple of years before we know if he struck out or if he'll continue his Ruthian ways. First, McKenzie boldly went with a safety at No. 14 overall. Kyle Joseph is coming off a torn ACL and fills a major need, but safety isn't a premium position. Only a handful of safeties have been drafted in the first 14 picks in the last 15 years and include names like Ea

Looking Forward: Raiders 2012 Free Agents

Khalif Barnes - Weakest link on the offensive line with youth behind him. Raiders will look for for other options. It's not as if there aren't a dozen Khalif's on the street each year. Darryl Blackstock - Was a Chuck Bresnahan guy, but found a home on special teams. Would have to make the team as a reserve LB and special teams guy next training camp. Wouldn't be surprised to see him back as a camp body or gone entirely. Kyle Boller - Hue didn't have enough confidence to turn to Boller. Expect the Raiders to look elsewhere for a backup to Carson Palmer. Jerome Boyd - Was nothing more than a reserve and special teams player. Some good moments and some very bad ones. Camp body again and fate will depend on the defensive coordinator. Tyvon Branch - About the only consistent producer in the secondary. Raiders will want to bring him back. Desmond Bryant - He's been great in limited action and can play inside and out. Key reserve. Michael Bush - He'll find a home a

Today's Twitter Summary

00:07 @ twfeed Is it possible to filter out certain blog posts that I don't want posted to Twitter? 01:44 @ twfeed Thanks. 09:58 Cable's very good turnout = 15 players not participating. 09:59 Offensive line is healthyand Zach Miller is practicing. 09:59 Mcfadden, Garcia notables that aren't participating. 10:00 Darius Heyward-Bey is here now that he has graduated. Mike Mitchell still prohibited because of the NFL rule. 10:01 Asomugha missing again, but Chris Johnson showed up. 10:03 Warren out with pec injury that had plague him since last year. Burgess and Richardson missing. 10:04 Cable's concept of very good turnout is optimism at it's finest...or denial. 10:06 Tom Flores at OTAs today. Javon Walker is a spectator. 10:12 Russell already looks better. Is Garcia bugging him or was it just the newness? Trevor Scott says technique and fundamentals today 10:15 DHB not practicing. So far he barely has a leg up on Crabtree in terms of practice