Part of the Bay Area News Group

Camp analysis: Linebackers

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, July 26th, 2009 at 8:58 am in Oakland Raiders.

Seventh in a series of posts analyzing Raiders position groups with players reporting for training camp Tuesday:

Projected starters: WLB Thomas Howard, MLB Kirk Morrison, SLB Jon Alston. Backups: Ricky Brown, Isaiah Ekejiuba, Slade Norris, David Nixon, Sam Williams, Chris O’Neill.

Howard might be the fastest player at his position in the NFL. Morrison has been the Raiders leading tackler in each of the last three years. They rarely leave the field and are fan favorites. What’s difficult to determine is how much responsiblity they, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the Raiders linebackers, bear in making one Oakland one of the worst teams in the NFL against the run. Until Oakland can hold teams under 4 yards per carry and make it difficult for opposing rushers to gain 100 yards, Raiders linebackers can’t be taken seriously and talk of Pro Bowl consideration is laughable. It’s not all their fault, because the Oakland defensive line doesn’t consistently win the line of scrimmage battle. But it’s also true Raiders linebackers have had trouble shedding blocks and haven’t been the best at fitting gaps. Two intriguing newcomers are Norris and Nixon, who consistently ran with the second team during minicamps and OTAs (Norris on the strong side, Nixon on the weak side). Ekejiuba is exclusively a special teams player. O’Neill was moved from tight end to middle linebacker at the request of Al Davis and Tom Cable. Williams, one of the nicer guys you’ll ever meet, never worked out as the classic SAM linebacker and if he makes the roster as a special teams player would be in his sixth year on scholarship.

The key battle: Alston vs. Brown. Alston went from a low of 211 pounds last season to 232 pounds, looking much thicker around the neck and shoulders without any apparent loss of speed. That’s still a tad undersized for a strong side linebacker. Not sure what to make of moving Brown to the middle for the offseason, given that he opened last season as the strong side starter. But since he was tendered at $1.7 million, he’s sticking around.

What I think: The Raiders need a strong, nasty run-stopping presence on their linebacking crew that hasn’t existed for far too long _ probably since Bill Romanowski’s last good year in 2002. Like the defensive line, the upgrades will have to come from a new coaching staff _ coordinator Jon Marshall and new linebackers coach Mike Haluchak. We can assume Haluchak knows something about the position. He’s been an NFL assistant for 23 years and has coached nothing but linebackers.

What could go wrong: The song remains the same and opposing runners continually find open gaps and creases in the defense.

  • Share/Bookmark

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    # Dude Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Oakglenn,

    Thanks for furthering my point bro, you da man. Keep it up.
    ————————————————–

    Went over your head again didn’t it. Stick to talking to missedabrain. he is more on your level.

  • jhill

    Cover 2 every game?

    I won’t even pretend that I know every formation we run. It makes sense that our famed “Back 7″ would all drop onto some type of zone coverage at the same time.

    Maybe that was Ryan’s problem, and that is why we keep hearing about getting back to basics. 4-3, man to man, with 2 deep safeties. Nickel or dime, man to man, with 2 deep safeties. Mix in the cover 3 with both safties actually dropping in zone coverage. That should pretty much be it. Master that, THEN throw in another package.

  • Dude

    Ok Knowlton, more like Knonothin.

  • Mistabrown

    The world according to PokeGlenn…

    Cover 3 is man 2 man, but we dont play man 2 man we play cover 3. They are the same but different….lmao

  • lefty12

    what some seem to miss is every team mixes up the Def. they play every game.the key is when you play a certain Def.with RR we seemed to mostly play the wrong def. at the wrong time thus you have to question his play calling.we did blitz,we did play man,we did play cover 2,etc.we just always seemed to play the wrong scheme at the wrong times.

  • Mistabrown

    AZ, maybe I took your post to literal ? It said Move KM to the outside so we can BLITZ more.

    Maybe your saying KM would be better suited to play OLB? Add a better run stuffing MLB? And then blitz more?

  • AZ Raider2

    Yowzers! LOL

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    # Dude Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    Ok Knowlton, more like Knonothin.
    —————————————————

    Wow. Sheer genius. No wonder missedabrain and two year olds think you’re funny.

  • priesttj

    Lefty12, I get it, but Mista needs to just shut it. No one knows your ignorant unless YOU prove it to them.

  • Dude

    Still waiting for you first original thought Knowlton.

  • AZ Raider2

    Na, I’m saying blitz now!

    Move Kirk next season, draft MLB and DL. Nothing we can do about our deffensive depth chart this season.

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    # Mistabrown Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    The world according to PokeGlenn…

    Cover 3 is man 2 man, but we dont play man 2 man we play cover 3. They are the same but different….lmao
    —————————————————

    No. Now you have completely confused yourself which happens every time you are here. missedabrain embarrasing himself. Happens everytime!! Everyone, keep it simple for him. Like this: football is a game. The sun comes up in the morning. there, that’s your level.

  • Mistabrown

    Km doesnt have the speed to play OLB. Either stick with him at MLB or trade him.

    I think Marshall & his LB coach will improve KM’s play at the point of attack.

    If not BYE BYE!

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    # Dude Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Still waiting for you first original thought Knowlton.
    —————————————————

    Dud, it would be waaaaaaay beyond your comprehension level. Accept it.

  • Mistabrown

    AZ,
    I have come to the conclusion your post are not well written in relation to your thoughts.

    At least you do have thoughts and dont just suck on other posters like PokeGlenn.

  • Mistabrown

    0bama spoke “stupidly” on the Cambridge PD.
    :D

  • Dude

    LOL!!! Thats all you ever say…… Talk is cheap. Really easy to say “I am not gonna talk to you it would be waaaaay over your head” but then never actually say a damn thing. Your the worst poster on here Knowlton.

  • AZ Raider2

    3-4!!!!! MAKE THE SWITCH!!!

    That’s what I want for Christmas!

  • jhill

    As usual Lefty, I agree.

    Wrong play called at the wrong time by Ryan!

  • priesttj

    Lefty12, post#156 was his biggest weakness IMO his playcalling at times really hurt us. As far as schemes and coverages are concerned he had them all. His gameplanning was on point most of the time. But he would call ineffective plays too often. He would play the LBers too deep against offenses with great underneath games. Against NE we should’ve came after Cassell that was the only way to get him off his spot and force t/o’s. He was frustrating.

  • lefty12

    KM isn’t quick enough to move outside-been there,done that.many on here biotch about the Raiders drafting players and then moving them to different positions,yet they do the same thing all the time-move Huff-didn’t work,move kirk-already happened,etc.say you don’t particularly like a player,but don’t say he’d be better if he moved to another position.if that was true,the coaches would have already thought of it,because believe it or not,they know more about the players than we the fans do.

  • AZ Raider2

    Dang mista, lonely? Why so fired up?

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    One thing that no one has mentioned is Dwayne Board is actually a very good defensive line coach. Hopefully he can get guys like Richardson and Sands to improve their techniques.

  • Mistabrown

    How does fired up equate to being lonely ?
    lol

  • jhill

    Anyway, it doesn’t matter because Marshall is calling the shots now.

    All we can do is sit back and see how he differs from Ryan. Especially on his 3rd down playcalling.

  • priesttj

    That’s post #155 sorry

  • Mistabrown

    Because who gives 2 schits about the D-line coach except you!

  • priesttj

    Kirk was saying Marshall might blitz more aggressively. Truth is Kirk wants to get in on the action. Nothing wrong with that.

  • jhill

    First thing we need to understand about Richardson is that he has NO business playing RDE! There were just some fundamental errors with how the team lined up, IMO!

    Another issue I had was Ryan lining Warren and Sands up directly over the C.

    AND, when he had Morrison on the line trying to “blow up” the gap between the C and G.

  • lefty12

    Priest,that was RR’s main weakness-play calling.i don’t know if it was because every opposing coach knew what he would do or what,but he always seemed to call the wrong def. at the wrong time-thus it always seemed like our players were either out of position or weren’t any good.i prefer to think RR always had them in the wrong place at the wrong time.i guess we’ll find out now that we have a new DC.

  • Mistabrown

    PokeGlenn you probably creamed your underoos when Lofton came aboard! In fact I know you did..

    The Coordinators are the difference makers. The position coaches are nice but relatively not noticeable except to gravy training koolaid drinkers like yourself and your right boob Priest.

  • jhill

    D-Line coach isn’t important?

    Is that your position?

    Really?!?!?!?

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    # AZ Raider2 Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Dang mista, lonely? Why so fired up?
    ——————————————-

    He’s lonely because his personality absolutely sucks. Of course being fat, bald and stupid can’t help either.

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    # jhill Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    D-Line coach isn’t important?

    Is that your position?

    Really?!?!?!?
    ——————————————-

    Let this missedabrain guy keep going. He continually proves how absolutely moronic he is. It’s hilarious. He never fails to prove he is a moron.

  • HayesDaze37

    Hey everybody! It’s a great night to be a Raiders fan. Isn’t it?

    Ahhh — mistabrown and dude/troll getting smacked around. What a cool site.

    mista is absolutely trying to save face (like that’s possible) by dodging the fact he absolutely did not know what Cover 3 is.

    Better to point fingers and call names, than to actually know what the fock you’re arguing about, ain’t that right?!

  • priesttj

    That’s all the complain about is the Dline, they better care who’s the coach.

  • AZ Raider2

    Don’t know, just pictured a lonely guy pissed at the world picking fights with people in chat rooms… Don’t know how, it’s just the image I got reading that post you wrote for me lol…

  • jhill

    The position coaches are nice but relatively not noticeable

    —————————————————-

    WOW! I can’t believe you wrote that.

  • Mistabrown

    I said not noticeable I did NOT say not unimportant.

    JHILL, if the defense blows up under Marshall are you going to scream BOARD….BOARD IS THE MAN or you going to give props to Marshall ?

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    # Mistabrown Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    PokeGlenn you probably creamed your underoos when Lofton came aboard! In fact I know you did..

    The Coordinators are the difference makers. The position coaches are nice but relatively not noticeable except to gravy training koolaid drinkers like yourself and your right boob Priest.
    —————————————————-

    Of course almost all coordinators actually come up as position coaches. In fact, so do most head coaches, including Cowher, Bellichek, Phillips, Turner, Dungy. But you’d have to a complete MORON not to know that!!

  • lefty12

    i heard Kirk say towards the end of last year that he was finally “getting it”.he felt like a QB.the game was slowing down and he was seeing it better.with more experienced coaches around him,we should really see him blossom this year as a MLB-at least we should hope to.

  • Mistabrown

    Thats funny you say that AZ.

    PokeGlenn sifts thru this blog everyday and comments on my post as if he has a raging boner for my lower leg but you dont notice that do you ?

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    Missedabrain is soooo fun to have here!!! Only MR gets shat on and pissed all over more, and still cannot tell it’s not rain.

  • Mistabrown

    PokeGlenn, nobody was talking about how coaches come up through the ranks. What is your major malfunction? Can you at least keep up ?

    I was talking about position coaches being in the background in relation to the Coordinators but you are too dam stupid to follow along.

    # Oakglenn Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Of course almost all coordinators actually come up as position coaches. In fact, so do most head coaches, including Cowher, Bellichek, Phillips, Turner, Dungy. But you’d have to a complete MORON not to know that!!

  • AZ Raider2

    Dunno, he never attacks me….

    You do though :) .

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    # Mistabrown Says:
    July 26th, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Thats funny you say that AZ.

    PokeGlenn sifts thru this blog everyday and comments on my post as if he has a raging boner for my lower leg but you dont notice that do you ?
    ———————————————————-

    Actually wrong again. It’s just you are wrong on almost every thing you post, I have to come in here and correct you. Now, if only someone could do something about your diction and personal hygiene but I guess that’s just too much to ask.

  • jhill

    If the defense blows up next year, Marshall will get the credit. But I guarantee you that Board will get a lot of acknowledgement too. Maybe not from the casual fan, but how about a DC position with another team? Dline starts getting after the QB, and stopping the run, Board will without question be the man!

  • Mistabrown

    My point is I dont get fired up about position coaches like you do. Who gives a krap about Board ?

    And you want to turn the debate into how coaches come up the ranks! You are truly BRAIN DEAD!

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    Sorry I have tears of laughter in my eyes. Have to go. You sure showed us didn’t you missedabrain??? LMAO

  • Mistabrown

    Go pet your cat pickle kisser..