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Camp questions: Can Raiders block and tackle?

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, July 26th, 2010 at 1:26 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Last in a series of camp questions, with players reporting Tuesday and practice opening Thursday in Napa:

Can the Raiders improve their blocking and tackling in camp without doing a lot of blocking and tackling?

Warren Sapp used to say stats are for losers, his argument being you could bend a statistic any which way to make a point. The only thing that truly matters is wins and losses.

In the case of the Raiders, the stats clearly show they’re losers because of the two most important aspects of the game _ blocking and tackling.

Over the past four years, the Raiders have allowed an NFL high 201 sacks, and while properly teaching quarterbacks to get rid of the ball can take care of some of that, a lot of it has to do with pass blocking.

The last four seasons have seen the Raiders rank 21st, 10th, sixth and 29th in rushing, but with only 36 rushing touchdowns over those four seasons. In 2007-08, having installed a zone blocking scheme, their rushing yardage was up but they still managed 20 rushing touchdowns in 32 games _ an offense that could run the ball between the 20s before faltering in the red zone.

On defense, the Raiders’ well-documented woes defending the run have seen them ranked 29th, 31st, 31st and 25th since 2006 while surrendering 86 rushing touchdowns _ fifty more than they scored during the same span. The fact that safety Tyvon Branch led all NFL defensive backs in tackles with 123 is not a good thing, because it means runners are consistently getting downfield. Against the pass, only three teams gave up more 20-plus yard pass plays than Oakland’s 56 _ with many of those coming after an early blown tackle.

Yes, you can bend stats a lot of ways, but it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than this is a team that has had serious toughness issues along the line of scrimmage _ the polar opposite of, say, the Baltimore Ravens.

Good Raiders teams have been possible because of offensive line play, and that includes the most recent string of AFC West titles from 2000 through 2002 with Bill Callahan as the architect of a line which led the league in rushing in 2000 and pass blocked their way to an AFC title in 2002. Say what you will about Callahan as a head coach _he’s one of the NFL’s best lieutenants, as witnessed by his work with the New York Jets since leaving Nebraska.

The arrival of Hue Jackson means the Raiders will no longer be a pure zone blocking team, and the hope is that will enable the team to get tough yards in the red zone and particularly inside the 10-yard-line. Jackson was spending as much or more time in offseason practices open to the media as Tom Cable with line coach Jim Michalczik.

Assuming that rookie draft picks Jared Veldheer (third round) and Bruce Campbell (fourth round) won’t be instant starters, coaching and scheme will have to make the difference, because going into camp, the present lineup of Langston Walker at right tackle, Cooper Carlisle at right guard, Samson Satele at center, Robert Gallery at left guard and Mario Henderson at left tackle looks awful familiar.

It’s a different story on defense, where the Raiders got appreciably bigger and more physical at linebacker with the selection of Rolando McClain, the trade for strong side linebacker Kamerion Wimbley and the late-season ascension of Trevor Scott to weak side linebacker. Add rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston to the mix and Oakland clearly addressed its run defense in terms of personnel.

They also brought in released Jacksonville defensive tackle John Henderson, whose best days as a run defender may be behind him but could be a useful player for 15 to 20 snaps a game.

But here’s the rub regarding upgrading blocking and tackling _ it’s not like the old days when training camp was a survival of the fittest, injuries be damned.

You don’t bring tacklers to the ground in spring training, nor do you finish cut blocks or go out of your way to pancake a defender.

The best tackling Raiders team since they came back to Oakland was in 1998, with Willie Shaw as defensive coordinator. Shaw explained that by the time players got to the NFL, their tackling skills weren’t going to change much. The solution was to get more people to the ball, so that when a tackle was missed, another player followed right up.

That Oakland team was particularly adept at making tackles on third down, giving up some yards but never enough to move the chains.

If the Raiders can’t find a way to be a better blocking and tackling team during training camp, these previous 12 questions of this series are moot:

Is McFadden just a camp star?

Is Jason Campbell the answer?

Can Nnamdi be a playmaker?

Can Gradkowski start?

Will wee see T.O.?

Can less be more for Cable?

Can the starting linebackers hold up in coverage?

How good is Mike Mitchell?

Can Mario be super?

Can Higgins return to ’08 form?

Where is Seymour’s ripple effect?

Can Bush be a beast?

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  • Jonesy941

    I think we need to hire R.Kelly and send him to Kiffens house and when Lane answers well you know what happens next.

  • DutchRaider77

    A lot rookies through the years have started out playing guard like: Florzell Adams (RG). Why is everyone so hyped on Campbell being a tackle anyways? I did not think he was an awesome Tackle in college, I thought we were high on him b/c of his combine numbers? Not sure why a 4th rounder playing guard is a wasted pick, considering how raw a player he is supposed to be? I was looking forward to the Raiders using some of those combine skills on traps and getting up to the next level on LBs.

  • bcz24

    Gallery was a first round LT who has excelled at guard… maybe they saw the same patterns in campbell

  • bcz24

    That would be nasty dutch… Campbell pulling across the line at 4.6 40 speed blasting unsuspecting dlineman!

  • bcz24

    Edgerin James would be a very solid replacement for Farglass. He could be a real mentor to Bush and DMac, without infringing on their carries to much.

  • Nnamdi21

    Tennesse can get behind Davis. We get to sue him first…

  • Nnamdi21

    bcz24 Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 4:47 pm
    That would be nasty dutch… Campbell pulling across the line at 4.6 40 speed blasting unsuspecting dlineman!

    =========================

    Except that he’s a terible run blocker especially in space.

    “Must improve his effectiveness as a cut blocker, often failing to even reach the ground. Throws his body towards a defender instead of locking on and sustaining.”

  • DutchRaider77

    Where is Barnes and Pears plaing? Jerry said that Barnes was playing exclusively at LG in camps? Wonder if Barnes has a chance to play RG also? What I heard on Barnes from Jackonsiville day was he was a good run blocker, terrible at pass protection. Cable has been high on Pears(RT?), well he was high on Harris and Green also (maybe he is just high?). Also, I am eager to see what a new and improved Langston Walker can do at RT.

    Let us hope B. Campbell is a fast learner and a hard worker. Love to see

  • DutchRaider77

    Am I wrong that Gallery failed at LT b/c of his short arms?

  • Nnamdi21

    Fix the O line, save the Raiders…

  • fat kidd

    i bought a mountain dew slushy i put it down now i cant find it!!!!!!!!!!

  • J Wiggle

    Except that he’s a terible run blocker especially in space.

    ——————————————————-

    How about waiting to see when the pads go on?

    Were talking about getting a body on a guy in a phone booth as opposed to him blocking as a LT.

  • Thec07

    fat kidd Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 5:27 pm
    i bought a mountain dew slushy i put it down now i cant find it!!!!!!!!!!

    +++++++++++++++++++==

    lol…… are u high???

  • Thec07

    every thing being equal our season rests on the oline…

  • fat kidd

    New Madden game will feature revamped soundtrack
    Posted by Mike Florio on July 26, 2010 6:10 PM ET
    In past years, the Madden franchise featured a soundtrack with new music that appealed to the youthful demographic to which the exclusive NFL video game appeals.

    This year, Electronic Arts will focus on replicating the in-stadium experience.

    The full soundtrack appears at the EA website. Original songs appearing on the game include AC/DC’s Thunderstruck, Welcome to the Jungle by Guns ‘N’ Roses, Let It Rock from Kevin Rudoff, the Kiss classic Rock and Rock All Nite, and Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train.

    The game also includes covers of Rock ‘N’ Roll Part 2 and We Will Rock You.

    For the first time, team-specific songs will appear in the game, including Bear Down Chicago Bears, Go Packers Go!, Skol Vikings, and Fly Eagles Fly.

    Meanwhile, Florio Jr. continues to pester the hell out of me to demonstrate my modest sports industry juice by scoring for him an advance copy of the game. EA, Drew Brees, can you help me get Florio Jr. off my back?

  • M Lonetree

    ah yes, block and tackle. very useful to hoist untold weights like the 7 year gorilla off one’s back.

    no 300 pound walrus pushing while everyone else is pulling is also an enormous help.

    Raider on.

  • bcz24

    At least we have some appreciable depth this year… I still dont know why we havent even worked out Mawae

  • bcz24

    Wonder if that means “The Autumn Wind is a Raider” will be on the Madden soundtrack

  • fat kidd

    everyone can sleep easier now i am going to vouch for the o-line flozell is coming!!!!!!!!the o-line will be fine.

  • fat kidd

    and i found my slushy

  • JT52

    oh how I love nfl game rewind. Watching some past games right now notably our ass wopping we gave the chargers week 1 LOL too bad we lost.

  • bcz24

    Still say they ROBBED Murph of that TD… difference in the game, and possibly our whole season… Who knows what we do if we start 1-0

  • JT52

    AGREED! Even Steve Young said it was a TD in the booth

    Anyway I just switched over to NO vs. Washington to scount Cambell some he had like 330 pass yards this game and 3TD’s

  • Thec07

    just had the same discussion in the office. That was a touchdown…

  • Thec07

    fat kidd Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 5:43 pm
    and i found my slushy

    ++++++++++++++++=

    where was it in the fridge???

  • JT52

    Correction 367 yards passing, 3TDs, 71.4% completions

  • fat kidd

    2010 fantasy football rankings wr 1. Andre Johnson, Texans
    2. Calvin Johnson, Lions
    3. Randy Moss, Patriots
    4. Miles Austin, Cowboys
    5. Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
    6. Reggie Wayne, Colts
    7. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
    8. Roddy White, Falcons
    9. Brandon Marshall, Dolphins
    10. Sidney Rice, Vikings
    11. Anquan Boldin, Ravens
    12. Marques Colston, Saints
    13. Greg Jennings, Packers
    14. Chad Ochocinco, Bengals
    15. Steve Smith, Panthers
    16. Steve Smith, Giants
    17. Percy Harvin, Vikings
    18. Hakeem Nicks, Giants
    19. Michael Crabtree, 49ers
    20. Pierre Garcon, Colts
    21. Dwayne Bowe, chiefs
    22. Hines Ward, Steelers
    23. Mike Sims-Walker, Jaguars
    24. Robert Meachem, Saints
    25. Donald Driver, Packers
    26. Mike Wallace, Steelers
    27. Vincent Jackson, Chargers
    28. Santana Moss, Redskins
    29. Derrick Mason, Ravens
    30. Jeremy Maclin, Eagles
    31. Steve Breaston, Cardinals
    32. Dez Bryant, Cowboys
    33. Kenny Britt, Titans
    34. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Seahawks
    35. Wes Welker, Patriots
    36. Lee Evans, Bills
    37. Antonio Bryant, Bengals
    38. Braylon Edwards, Jets
    39. Devin Aromashodu, Bears
    40. Nate Burleson, Seahawks
    41. Santonio Holmes, Jets
    42. Julian Edelman, Patriots
    43. Demaryius Thomas, Broncos
    44 Malcom Floyd, Chargers
    45. Mario Manningham, Giants
    46. Johnny Knox, Bears
    47. Josh Morgan, 49ers
    48. Mohamed Massaquoi, Browns
    49. Devery Henderson, Saints
    50. Eddie Royal, Broncos
    51. Devin Thomas, Redskins
    52. Chris Chambers, Chiefs
    53. Terrell Owens, FA
    54. Jerricho Cotchery, Jets
    55. Laurent Robinson, Rams
    56. Donnie Avery, Rams
    57. Golden Tate, Seahawks
    58. Jabar Gaffney, Broncos
    59. Austin Collie, Colts
    60. Kevin Walter, Texans
    61. Jacoby Jones, Texans
    62. Arrelious Benn, Buccaneers
    63. Davone Bess, Dolphins
    64. Roy Williams, Cowboys
    65. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Raiders
    66. Lance Moore, Saints
    67. Nate Washington, Titans
    68. Anthony Gonzalez, Colts
    69. Early Doucet, Cardinals
    70. Devin Hester, Bears
    71. Chaz Schilens, Raiders
    72. Mike Williams, Seahawks
    73. Jason Avant, Eagles
    74. Brandon Gibson, Rams
    75. Bernard Berrian, Vikings
    where is murphy?

  • fat kidd

    Thec07 Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 5:54 pm
    fat kidd Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 5:43 pm
    and i found my slushy

    ++++++++++++++++=

    where was it in the fridge???

    ……………….no i was carrying groceries and sat it down on the porch!!!

  • JT52

    LOL To be honest I do a fantasy league where we buy-in for 100 each and I doubt I am picking any Raiders this year.

    If DMAC or Bush are there past round 10 I will consider them, I would even take Raiders Defense depending on how they look in the preseason. But thats all.

  • bcz24

    Zack Miller is the only worthy fantasy guy, at least for now…

  • fat kidd

    32.dez bryant hasnt caught a ball yet in the nfl and people hate him.

  • Just Fire Baby

    JT52 Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 5:55 pm
    Correction 367 yards passing, 3TDs, 71.4% completions

    ********************************

    Don’t forget the back-breaking int with a minute to go in his own territory in a tie game.

    Just saying.

    But if that kicker makes that 24 yarder it wouldn’t even have came to that.

  • fat kidd

    randy moss went to new england too play for a contender ,i hope we play new england in the playoffs and stomp their a$$.

  • JT52

    ust Fire Baby Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 6:04 pm
    JT52 Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 5:55 pm
    Correction 367 yards passing, 3TDs, 71.4% completions

    ********************************

    Don’t forget the back-breaking int with a minute to go in his own territory in a tie game.

    Just saying.

    But if that kicker makes that 24 yarder it wouldn’t even have came to that.

    **************************

    Ouch havent seen this game yet so I did not know thats how it ends. Damn that sucks. Well NO did win the SB last year I hope the INT was atleast a good Defensive play and not a boner move.

    On the other hand Zach Miller is a worthy fantasy option i had him the past two years and will prob grab him again

  • fat kidd

    2010 nfl training camp dates Team: Oakland Raiders
    Location: Napa Valley Marriott
    City: Napa Valley, Calif.
    Rookies: July 28
    Veterans: July 28 in case somebody fogot.Mcclain you better be there!!!

  • fat kidd

    The 2010 Raiders schedule has been released.

    Oakland opens the season against Tennessee on Sept. 12.

    Check out the complete 2010 Oakland Raiders schedule below. All times are ET.

    1 Sun, Sept 12 at Tennessee 1:00 PM WIN
    2 Sun, Sept 19 St. Louis 4:05 PM WIN
    3 Sun, Sept 26 at Arizona 4:15 PM WIN
    4 Sun, Oct 3 Houston 4:05 PM WIN
    5 Sun, Oct 10 San Diego 4:15 PM WIN
    6 Sun, Oct 17 at San Francisco 4:05 PM WIN
    7 Sun, Oct 24 at Denver 4:15 PM WIN
    8 Sun, Oct 31 Seattle 4:15 PM WIN
    9 Sun, Nov 7 Kansas City 4:15 PM WIN
    11 Sun, Nov 21 at Pittsburgh 1:00 PM WIN
    12 Sun, Nov 28 Miami 4:05 PM WIN
    13 Sun, Dec 5 at San Diego 4:05 PM WIN
    14 Sun, Dec 12 at Jacksonville 1:00 PM WIN
    15 Sun, Dec 19 Denver 4:15 PM WIN
    16 Sun, Dec 26 Indianapolis 4:05 PM WIN
    17 Sun, Jan 2 at Kansas City 1:00 PM WIN

  • Just Fire Baby

    He played great all game, maybe even better than Brees.

    Than on the int……well you just go watch it. Very Jamarcus-esque.

    But 360 yards and 3 TD’s is about 5 weeks for Jamarcus, lol.

  • bcz24

    16-0… I like your thinking Fats!

  • bcz24

    5 weeks Vegas? Did Janyquil through 3 tds with the Raiders?

  • JT52

    Checked the sports book today oakland is 100-1 to win the Big one this year.

    I think thats worthy of a bet.

    Hell Cinnci is 50-1. If they get TO I am taking that bet too

  • fat kidd

    LIST OF PEOPLE LANE KIFFIN HAS NOT PISSED OFF 1. HIS MOM 2. HIS DAD 3. HIS PAPERBOY 4. 5. 6. …………………………I NEED SOME HELP HERE!!!

  • fat kidd

    Bengals want answer, lower price from T.O.
    Posted by Gregg Rosenthal on July 26, 2010 8:41 PM ET
    With the Rams out of the mix, the Bengals are once again the only team going after Terrell Owens. Just like March.

    With that in mind, the Bengals are trying to close the deal fast. They made an official offer on Monday according to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer and the team is hoping an answer comes in the next 48 hours before training camp starts. The problem here looks like Owens’ price tag.

    “There’s a reason why the Rams pulled out of the TO bidding — the asking price hasn’t come down,” Reedy writes.

    The Bengals like to waste money on wide receivers, but it’s ridiculous if they don’t get Owens at a discount. The team burnt $10 million on Laveranues Coles last year and invested huge money into Antonio Bryant, who the Bengals coaching staff now feels “lukewarm” about according to Adam Schefter.

    Paying Owens over $5 million would be throwing good money after bad.

  • bcz24

    Silly pick up for the Bungles… They already have one personality too big for their locker room, dont need another.

  • fat kidd

    Martellus Bennett apologizes for nude photos
    Posted by Michael David Smith on July 26, 2010 7:01 PM ET
    Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett is apologizing once again, this time for naked pictures of him that surfaced today.

    “These pictures were taken four years ago and placed on the Internet recently without my knowledge or consent,” Bennett said in a statement released by the Cowboys. “I understand that they are totally inappropriate. And for that I am sorry. I regret the embarrassment that it has caused the organization.”

    The photos show a nude Bennett using his iPhone to take a picture of himself in a mirror. They were apparently sold to a web site by an ex-girlfriend.

    The Cowboys haven’t said whether they’re taking any action on this particular matter, but coach Wade Phillips did say that the team can discipline players if their personal conduct reflects poorly on the team.

    “We fine players. We’ve done quite a few things in that area,” Phillips said. “We talk about social media, and we have rules on all those things.”

    It’s far from the first time that Bennett’s antics have landed him in hot water. This month he posted a video on YouTube showing him wearing a fake beard and pretending to be Osama bin Laden. Last month he ripped Titans quarterback Vince Young for getting into an altercation at a strip club, then apologized to Young. A year ago he apologized for posting a YouTube video that he called the “Black Olympics,” featuring himself and his brother competing to see who could eat more fried chicken and watermelon. He was fined by the Cowboys for using a homophobic slur and a racially offensive remark. He once claimed to have eaten a dog at a Chinese restaurant. And so on.

    On the field, Bennett is currently unable to participate in the Cowboys’ training camp practices with an ankle injury.

    is this the worlds smartest guy?

  • Nnamdi21

    Take him Cincy.

    They apparently have a need for a locker room psycho at WR.

    (No, not you Ocho…)

  • Nnamdi21

    fat kidd Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 6:25 pm
    LIST OF PEOPLE LANE KIFFIN HAS NOT PISSED OFF 1. HIS MOM 2. HIS DAD 3. HIS PAPERBOY 4. 5. 6. …………………………I NEED SOME HELP HERE!!!

    ===================

    Mom and Dad stopped taking his calls…

  • Nnamdi21

    fat kidd Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 6:03 pm
    32.dez bryant hasnt caught a ball yet in the nfl and people hate him.

    ===================

    They want to…

    They’ll al shut up when he starts catching passes. He is REALLY GOOD…

  • Thec07

    Dez Bryant is who would should have been drafting had we drafted ligcally a few years in a row…..

    I like dez bryant better than crabtree….

  • Thec07

    I meant to type drafting logically…
    Drafting ligcally is what we have been doing the last few years….

  • fat kidd

    Dez Bryant Just Another Cowboys Diva
    7/26/2010 8:32 PM ET By Anthony L. Gargano
    Thanks now to Dez Bryant, LeBron James isn’t the most me-bloated, self-sniffing rebel without a pause button on the planet. See, Roy Williams told Dez to carry his shoulder pads like a good rookie, and Dez told him to get his own shine box because Dez doesn’t play that.

    Even though his well-accomplished number-sake did. And from first-rounders to free-agent camp bodies throughout the history of the league, just about everyone else did when they were a rookie. Because there’s a lesson in it about humility. Because no matter how swoll your bankroll or swagger rating on “Madden ’11″, you need to earn respect in the room. Because the sum of the room wins in football.

    And while Dez has declared much through a couple days in San Antonio, impressing the eyes with a series of one-handed snares and deep grabs, the Cowboys will only win in a house not divided. So while it’s news that Dez dons Michael Irving’s jersey, the voices in that locker room had better make sure now that it doesn’t say H1N1 on the back instead of 88.

    Romo better order a Code Red.

    And blame it on the ghost of Terrell Owens.