While there was speculation Greg Ellis would likely wind up with a team which ran a 3-4 defense similar to the one he left in Dallas, in reality he felt the way he was used in the alignment took away from the strength of his game.
In an interview on the Michael Irvin Show, Ellis said teammates, opponents and commentators wondered he was utilized on pass defense instead of as a pass rusher. As a defensive end in a 4-3 alignment with the Raiders, Ellis, inserted as a starter upon arrival, will be free to get after the quarterback with a minimum of pass coverage responsibilities.
Ellis said one respected commentator who he declined to name told him, `Greg, why don’t you rush that much? It seems like when you rush, you’re a better football team.”
Going into an Oct. 26 game against Tampa Bay, Ellis said he asked coach Wade Phillips for more of a role rushing the passer.
“I didn’t get a sack but I got a bunch of pressures,” Ellis said. “Wade himself said, `That’s the best defensive performance he’d ever seen in his NFL career. Then I don’t get but 10 plays against the New York Giants.”
The Giants beat the Bucs 13-9, then lost to the Giants 35-14. Particularly galling for Ellis was that he asked to speak to the team before the Giants game, gave an impassioned speech, then had a minimal role so minimal that teammate Terrell Owens jokingly asked him, `What happened, you’re supposed to be our leader?” Responded Ellis, “I only played about 10 plays, bro.”
Ellis said he was out of the game so often in some games that teammate DeMarcus Ware would hide from coaches on the sideline to get the veteran more snaps.
The 20-minute interview was almost entirely about issues with the Cowboys, with little in the way of Ellis’ fresh start with a new team.
“You’ve got to shut it off in Dallas and pick it up in Oakland. That’s what I have to do. Had some great years in Dallas, feel we should have won the Super Bowl and didn’t do it,” Ellis said. “I have to move on and you have to realize the NFL is a business and to be a part of it you have leave a team, go to another one, put on your business hat and go into your new city commit to them all you have and give to them the everything you gave your last one. That’s what I’m committed to do.”
Without so much as a playoff win in his career, Ellis talked of how special it would be to have it happen with a rebuilding Oakland team.
“I look at a challenge in Oakland, the struggling season they had last year, if we can get it turned around and get on the winning side, get in the playoffs, win a playoff game, get to that Super Bowl and win that . . . I know people say, `yeah, right, that ain’t going to happen in Oakland,’ but if we can make that happen, it would be a great feeling to know you were a part of turning something around,” Ellis said.