Raiders hope bigger is better


Raiders coach Tom Cable emphasized many times during the offseason his desire to see his team forge a more physical identity.

The ability to convert in short yardage and be tough in the red zone offensively.

The strength to stop opponents from doing the same to their defense.

It’s really no different than what coaches say every year. The next time you hear a coach say he wants to be less physical and isn’t overly concerned about stopping the run will be the first.

Except this time, the Raiders made personnel and schematic changes which indicate they were doing more than paying lip service to those goals.

We’ll get an idea Sunday if they’re any closer to being the kind of team Cable desires, because the Tennessee Titans are an ideal opponent for testing their toughness and strength at the point of attack.

The Titans have a relatively anonymous defesnive front seven considered to be extremely active and strong, the kind of team which has often overwhelmed the Raiders in the past. Their offensive line is good enough so that Tennessee has thought nothing of continuing to run Chris Johnson, and do it successfully, even when opponents put eight or nine in the box.

Why would the Raiders be better equipped to handle the Titans than in the past?

Cable made some concessions in order to keep his job, and one of them was to loosen up on his strict adherence to zone blocking. He made no apologies for being an Alex Gibbs disciple and was firm in his convictions that if done correctly, zone blocking was not only the best system, but the only one.

Zone blocking calls for linemen to be smaller and lighter, with the ability to cut block and rely on running backs to put their foot in the ground and look for an open back side.

The Raiders still have zone blocking in their tool box, but have augumented it with gap and power blocking. That’s how the Baltimore Ravens did things when Hue Jackson was quarterbacks coach, and the Raiders have borrowed heavily from offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s offense.

Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, during a conference call with Bay Area media this week, went so far as to call the Raiders offense “the Baltimore system.”

While we’ll have to wait and find out if the Raiders are better, they’re certainly bigger up front, making them in theory more adept at converting near the goal line with a straight ahead push.

Langston Walker, the right tackle and replacement for Cornell Green, would not be a starter in a strict zone system. The Raiders went for a bigger center in Jared Veldheer, some six inches taller and 15 to 20 pounds heavier than Samson Satele. Chris Morris, a zone blocking center and guard dating back to his days at Michigan State, was released. Daniel Loper, a bear of a man at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, was kept instead.

When the Raiders signed defensive end Jay Alford Wednesday, the player cut was Erik Pears, an angular tackle schooled in the zone system in Denver. Khalif Barnes, bigger and stronger than Pears, becomes the primary backup at right tackle as well as left tackle.

Left guard Mario Henderson and left guard Robert Gallery are big enough and powerful enough to handle either scheme, although Henderson’s consistency remains an issue. The remaining starter with a predominantly zone background is Cooper Carlisle, who for the time being is holding off Bruce Campbell, the fourth-round project who may not be ready to play until much later this season, if at all, as a rookie.

The moves have been just as decisive on defense.

Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison was traded to Jacksonville, and four-year starter Thomas Howard is been brought back as a reserve and special teams players, both men saddled with the reputation of being not stout enough against the run. The crew of linebackers is entirely new and much bigger _ strong side starter Kamerion Wimbley and middle linebacker Rolando McClain are listed at 255 pounds, and new weak side starter Quentin Groves is a converted end who weighs 265.

On the defensive line, Richard Seymour moved from end to tackle and to date hasn’t played nearly the percentage of snaps outside. John Henderson, at 335 pounds, signed as an free agent after being released by Jacksonville although it’s not clear how much he’ll play. Tommy Kelly is lighter at 315 pounds, but ostensibly stronger.

About the only against-the-grain decision of late was moving Trevor Scott from linebacker to defensive end, displacing Matt Shaughnessy, who outweighs him by 15 pounds. Shaughnessy will play plenty in a rotation basis, and it remains to be seen if Scott, listed as the starter, will actually be playing on running downs instead of being a nickel rusher along with Wimbley.

The Raiders set a goal to become bigger and stronger to address areas of need and executed it during the offseason. Now comes the big step _ executing it on Sundays.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Carl Weathers

    Does a ceaser count?

  • Carl Weathers

    Lets all make a pact to chug a cold pint when the Raiders score their first TD!

  • Carl Weathers


  • PlunkforHOF

    Afternoon Raider fans! Tomorrow is the big day!!!!

    GO RAIDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Bloody Marys @ 9:30.. Check

  • Twocents


    If, over the last seven years, I had waited to “chug a cold pint” until the Raiders scored a TD the breweries would be bankrupt!

  • Roch R

    Go Raiders!

  • Kirk

    Thanks to all on this blog for keeping hope alive.

    Now it’s time for the real thing.

  • EMRaiders

    This is going to be a tough game for us. I think it’s winnable, but very tough. Even if CJ gets 200 yds rushing, and a couple of TDs, our best chance of winning is to keep up the score. Our offense needs to keep scoring no matter what. And that will largely depend on the performance of our Oline primarily. Secondarily, it will be the performance of DMc, since our best weapon agains CJ will be to keep him off the field, and finally, the performance of our WRs. Because if DMc is just average, and our line doesn’t create holes for him to run, then we are going to need to pass a lot. Plus if we fall behind early, passing will be the way to go. Again, our Oline needs to hold up for this. Anyway you cut it, our Oline play is crucial.

    I just hope RolMc has spent all week watching film on CJ and knows everything there’s to know about him.

    Campbell will need to show he’s an improvement as well. But like I said, scoring will be the key on this game, and our Oline better be ready to step up.

  • EMRaiders

    14 hours and counting…

  • RaiderKen

    Bloody mary’s @ 9:30 check. Does anyone have a good recipe for the mix?

  • edward teach

    Raider Ken,

    Make ’em any way you want. After the second one they taste good no matter what you did. 🙂

  • Head Coach Al Davis

    When the raiders win, all of my friends that get off on trashing them are suddenly absent. I live in Orlando which is full of bucks and dolphins fans. Before the raiders play and after they lose each Sunday, which is usually the case, they RAM it down my throat how crappy my team is and how they’ll never have a winning season, the lions are better than the raiders, blah blah. They don’t know anything about the team, just going on the record. I am really hoping the changes made to the team in the off-season actually bring us back to respectability. Super bowl would be great, but id be happy with just .500.
    As far as the Titans are concerned, its pretty insulting that people think that CJ is going to single handedly destroy us. With the ludicrous amount of changes done to our run stopping ability, its just plain stupid to think that we will just lay down and let every good back run on us forever. CJ might be a great back, but there aren’t too many other serious players on their offense. While many think that CJ is the reason Oakland will lose (while acting like the only plays that will occur are the ones he’s in), I believe that he’s the only weapon they have that will keep the game from being a one sided whooping. Other than the occasional scare VY might present, his best chance of success is by keeping the ball instead of playing with fire by throwing against asomugha and company. CJ only impacts the plays he’s in. CJ isn’t on Defense, I promise. If you look at the titans d, especially their suspect secondary, whose best player is finnegan, I see no reason why we can’t score points on them. I don’t see us blowing them out, but if it was possible to compare these teams without any bias and the clean slate you get with a new season, you’d be insane to bet against the raiders. Anyone that thinks that the titans are rolling over everyone this season because of one star RB, should talk to Barry Sanders, haha.
    But I remain optimistic as ever and I hope da raiders finally shock everyone. It’s about creaking time. I no longer live in CA, but ill bleed silver and black forever.

  • Twocents


    I use V8, Worcestershire, Tabasco and lime juice.

  • Head Coach Al Davis

    Damn twocents, that concoction sounds toxic. How does it taste?

  • Twocents

    Head Coach,

    It depends on how much Vodka you add.

  • Male Cheerleader


  • Male Cheerleader

    Lets go Oakland!…lets go Oakland!!!!

  • RaiderKen

    Post 63 well said, I just prefer to curb my optimism until I see change on the field. for example finally stopping the run, and finally sustaining drives.

  • RaiderKen

    Oh and mostly just killing ourselves. Not necessarily getting beat by the other team.

  • Male Cheerleader

    We will win the game tomorrow people!!!

  • Twocents

    Just want to say thanks to all the regulars on here for keeping me entertained during the off season.

    A lot of crap goes down but, all in all, it’s a great place.

    Here’s to a great season, the Raider Nation deserves it.

  • Nnamdi21
  • Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher, during a conference call with Bay Area media this week, went so far as to call the Raiders offense “the Baltimore system.”
    Davis isn’t going to like that.

  • Plunketthead

    Opening night eve and all through Jerrys house not a troll was stirring

    Where the heck is everyone. Let the insults fly

  • Plunketthead

    Al has signed off on it.

  • # Twocents Says:
    September 11th, 2010 at 5:58 pm


    I use V8, Worcestershire, Tabasco and lime juice.

    and lots of Vodka.. throw in a celery and a few green olives… Bam! Breakfast is served..

  • RaiderRetribution

    Many of were hoping Raiders would sign pro-bowl C, Mawae.

    A key factor many of incuding myself overlooked, he’s not playing for the Titans either, which means they have a new center as well.

    They are also w/o Van Den Bosch on the defensive line.

    Titans have an excellent coach, whom we all have tons of respect for, but they have lost Two key probowl players one on each side of the line of scrimmage.

  • PassTheCheetos

    63 one of the few long quotes worth reading.

  • PassTheCheetos

    wtf the baltimore system. Al davis invented our offense in the 20’s.

  • TerrapinRaider

    Watching NFLN Top 100. First Raider to hit the boards at #85 ..Marcus Allen.

    Ahead of notables: Micheal Irvin, Kurt Warner, Strahan, Willie Davis, Ed Reed

  • RaiderRetribution

    I’ll be eating a breakfast platter at El Papagayo’s Sports Bar, Casino, & Bowling alley in Moses Lake, WA watching the Raiders dominate the Titans in the trenches.

  • PassTheCheetos

    http://espn.go.com/nfl/team/depth/_/name/ten/tennessee-titans Basically the reason why chris johnson had the season he did.

  • LT DAN


  • LT DAN

    Ill be breaking down High School football film on Sunday but Ill have the blog and nfl.com on for updates!

  • TerrapinRaider

    Hendricks #82

  • TerrapinRaider

    just saw that youtube highlight of Mike Mitchell’s hit of Forsett …holy sht that was huge!!!! He totally obliterated the guy.

    Send him at CJ once and if he get that good of a hit on ’em …CJ is done for the game.

  • TerrapinRaider

    Branch hits hard too but not THAT hard!

  • LT DAN

    Do you have a link to the hit terrapin?

  • TerrapinRaider
  • TerrapinRaider

    I didn’t see the game but I heed to this comment posted by some person watching the youtube vid:(these kind of hits have game changing impact)

    4 days ago
    Forsett short armed a pass on the very next play as it fell incomplete – it’s called “residuals” – which is why this hitter needs to play; who cares if his cover work needs improvement, this kind of intimidating factor has sub-conscious ramifications that far outweigh his ability to cover a TE on a pass route. If you know a Raiders’ coach – pass it on.

  • fat kidd

    RaiderKen Says:
    September 11th, 2010 at 5:50 pm
    Bloody mary’s @ 9:30 check. Does anyone have a good recipe for the mix?
    tomato juice
    3 tbsp. lemon juice
    1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
    1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce (optional)
    celery stalks
    1 lbs. marijuana

  • LT DAN

    That was a sweet hit. Hope he catches cj a couple times like that tomorrow!!! TY terrapin

  • Musaeus

    I like this article.

  • Head Coach Al Davis

    It’s insane how stacked our d is, across the board. If only they were wearing different uniforms so they could get taken seriously. You can’t argue with results, so its time for them to actually play up to their ability. I honestly believe that the road to the afc west crown goes through san Diego as I doubt that kc or Denver have what it takes to deal with the potential beast that Oakland can be. I’ll even go so far as to say that we may even be able to finally shake the charger victory drought this season, especially if kc manages to topple them tomorrow.

  • Head Coach Al Davis

    I mean Monday

  • hendu

    Fat Kidd,youre killin me w/the last,I prefer the rest with Great Vodka, period! RAIDERS!!!!!!!!! ps 408,Gilbert says glad youve discovered Blood Marys!

  • Too many players out, too many players “suspect”..too many questions without the definitive answer..which all adds up to 34-17 Titans.

  • LT DAN

    Night nation

  • priesttj

    KK you’re such an idiot why do you think he hred Hue Jackson to get Shanahan’s system? What system do you think they’d be running Hue is the OC?

    Are you really dumb enough to think that he doesn’t kmow what system his team is running that he needs an opposing coach to tell him? Soem of you guy’s are so ignorant with all your Al Davis dogma that you can’t see past your own pathetic nose. Dumbell!!