On Wednesday, just a day after the Raiders announced Chuck Bresnahan was the team's new defensive coordinator, they sent out some curious messages about the Raider defense.
The first message came on Twitter when they said, "The Raiders played a 3-4 D in 3 Super Bowl wins & have long been evolving and diverse in the team's defensive strategy." That message was followed by an article titled "Raiders an Evolving Defense."
The article is set up as an historical piece about the "Raiders defense throughout the years." But it is a curiously timed message to send out when you consider they just brought back Bresnahan who coached the Raiders 4-3 defense during their successful playoff years and resulting Super Bowl appearance in 2002. The defense has hardly been evolving when you consider the Raiders have not run the 3-4 for over 20 years, going back to when they were still in Los Angeles.
The move to a 3-4 has been speculated about for a couple of years now. The first indication came when the Raiders traded for former 3-4 DE Richard Seymour prior to the 2009 season. Speculation grew louder with the offseason addition of two outside linebacker with 3-4 backgrounds in Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves.
Last season, with such versatile players in the mix, the Raiders often lined up in a 3-4 look. The team still identified itself as a 4-3 defense but the capability to play 3-4 helped keep offenses guessing and turned out to be quite successful. An indication of that was Wimbley finished the season as the team's leader in sacks from the strong side linebacker spot.
After such a successful season, Al Davis is having visions of the Raider glory years and this team's potential to accomplish similar things.
The team has most of the pieces to run the 3-4. The only thing missing is possibly a pure nose tackle. The issue I see is not players needed but rather that some of their best defensive players' talents would be wasted in the transition. Those issues lie mainly on the newly dominant defensive line.
Richard Seymour made the shift to defensive tackle and saw one of his best seasons. He also made the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2006. A switch back to defensive end at this point would not be a good move. And a switch to nose tackle would stand to eliminate his pass rushing abilities. He has proven to be an elite 3 technique defensive tackle.
If Seymour moved to NT, what of Tommy Kelly? If he moved to DE, what of Matt Shaughnessy? Lamarr Houston and Shaughnessy were fantastic at the two defensive end positions last season. Neither of them is the type of player who could play a DE/OLB so they must start at the 3-4 DE position if a switch is made.
The linebackers, with a couple of additions, are set up nicely to play the 3-4, however. The team thought highly enough of Ricky Brown to put a round two tender on him. They also have high hopes for last year's rookie round six pick Travis Goethel, who could play either at inside or outside linebacker. Quentin Groves and Trevor Scott would battle it out for the starting weak side linebacker spot. Add a player or two in the draft, and they are all set.
The question now becomes, why mess with a good thing? If the 4-3 base defense with 3-4 looks was working so well, why change it? It is not like Bresnahan has a great history running the 3-4. Linebackers coach Greg Biekert was middle linebacker his entire career in the NFL and has not coached a 3-4.
So the last theory in all this is simply the team throwing out smoke signals prior to the draft. If other teams think they are going to switch to the 3-4, they will be wondering if the team will be in the market for an inside linebacker or perhaps a nose tackle. There is always a bit of madness to Al Davis' methods.
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I think Houston is a good fit at 3-4 end. Kelly, Seymour, and Bryant would be the other 3-4 ends on roster. John Henderson is the only guy who could pass as a NT that the Raiders have. Wimbley, Groves, Scott and Shaunessy are all rush OLBs in a 3-4. I say it'd be Wimbley and Shaunessy as the starters. McClain was the leader of the Tide's 3-4 defense. Ricky Brown and Travis Goethel would be the other ILBs. I think Goethel, if healthy, would get the nod over Brown. I wouldn't be surprised to draft another ILB type and a OLB as well. At least to add more depth anyways. I would like to be a hybrid and not be dependent on a base defense. I like having the flexibility to shift from a 4-3 to a 3-4 or vice versa without even having to make any substitutions.
I don't think the raiders will run a 3-4. But if they did, John Henderson would have to play NT and DE... Also, I would like to see them experiment w/ Trevor Scott inside. If it doesn't work then no harm and leave him as a Rush LB. I wouldn't see the move as difficult since the Raiders run a "two gap" defense anyways. Only thing needed would be a true NT. It would also allow more zone coverages because of the added hybrid players on the field. Athletically, the Raiders offense and defense are scary... just need a scheme along the lines to benefit them.
The Raiders put out the information to make FOOLS out of many Media type. These Media Clowns pray on the younger Fans that may not know much about the Raiders or their history. With the Media selling the stick that Al Davis beleives in playing D one way and one way only and pawning off that it has always been this way is pure bull. After enough being wrote by the Media and the Media consistent beating of the Drums on this many gulable uninformed or younger Fans take it as Gospel.
It kind of shocked a few younger Fans to find out that all 3 Super Bowl winning teams ran the 3-4. Who can forget watching the coach of the Eagles caught on film in the Super Bowl against the Raiders yelling, "where is that Nose Tackle coming from", good old Reggie Kinlaw, what a game he had that day. So all this talk about Al Davis being stuck in one way and one way only is pure bull. If that was his way the Raiders never would have played in (14) AFC Championship Games. Considering the Steelers have just reached their (15) AFC Championship Game this year and taking into account the Chargers have been to a whopping (2) AFC Championship Games in their entire history, the Raiders under Al Davis have done alright.
As for being able to use 4 down linemen to put pressure on the QB while shutting down WR's with your corners allowing the backers and safeties to do different things while using the Blitz as a suprise more then a manstay would be any D Coordinators dream and not a bad thing to shoot for. My point is who do you want to take your D Philosiphy from?, Jerry McDonald lol, or a Hall of Famer like Al Davis? Nice to see the Raiders come out with the article letting the youngsters know the TRUTH about what Mr. Davis has done with D through the years. Raider Rock my friends. Here is another ditty for you, Al Davis and the Raiders were one of the first teams to send a RB out of the backfield into a pass play.
Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't the Raiders run 3-4 D in 2005? I seem to remember a failed experiment at it when Ryan came in and Sapp was out of his natural 3-technique position. We were not properly staffed for it then, and I really don't think we are now, either. Our LBs are too slow in coverage and we do lack a dominant NT. If you look at all the teams that successfully run 3-4, they all have those 2 things - OLBs that can cover, and a dominant NT. I hope with Bresnahan's experience we stick to 4-3, or at least mix it up to play to our strengths.
No they are not switching to a 3-4 defense. The article was put out because Al's butt hurt again because everyone brings up that he controls the defense and the defense has sucked for years. Nothing else to it IMHO....
line up at 3-4 would probably be
NT Draft/free agency
I don't agree with some of your assesment by the way.
Oakland had the 28th rush D in the league. That's not your defensive line playing "great". That's your defensive line being great at rushing the passer, but lousy at stuffing the run.
Houston and Shaugnessy, and Seymour, to an extent were great at some things. Lousy at others.
Stopping the run, is a big deal. Oakland have showed season after season, they can't do it, in a 4-3, no matter what the personnel.
You know, put Seymour in a 3-4, with a dominant nose, and I couldn't care less how many sacks he gets, if we can get into the top 15 run Ds!
If Oakland can get a quality nose tackle, or find one on their roster, they'll have a great 3-4 roster
One of the best in the league
I really hope they freaking do, as I wrote an article at the start of the 2009 season, claiming that I'd heard sources that Al Davis is working the Raiders back to a 3-4 lineup.
I actually called it for the 2010 season, but what I heard, he was basically going to be drafting for a 3-4 move, and would do it as soon as he had the players.
You know, look at recent roster moves
Seymour - HOF defensive end
Houston - classic 3-4 defensive end
Groves - 3-4 linebacker
MccClaim - classic 3-4 inside linebacker
Wimbley - classic 3-4 linebacker
If you look at ALL Raiders defensive line moves, and linebacker moves, recently, you'll see one thing.
They're all very heavy for their position basically.
Seymour is a big defensive tackle
Houston is a big end
Shaughnessy is a big end
Groves is a very big linebacker
McClain is a very big linebacker
Wimbley is a very big linebacker
When teams draft size, size, size, in their front 7, to me, that just tells you it's a matter of time, before they move to a 3-4
Oakland should. It's got to the point where their roster doesn't even fit a 3-4 any more.
Oakland are too big on the defensive line, and too big at linebacker, to play 4-3. They're not mobile enough