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Philip Wheeler Q&A

A transcription of linebacker Philip Wheeler’s conference call with Bay Area media Monday:

Q: What can you say about your first day in terms of the atmosphere, what impressions can you draw?

Wheeler: It’s like, I’m pretty sure everybody else thought, everybody was new, a lot of new faces, new coaches, for everybody. I feel like we’re all coming in on an even playing field type thing. As far as competition, I feel like it’s going to be healthy competition for us and I feel like we’re going to be a good team because of that.

Q: What can you say about the coaching staff, their message to you, etc?

Wheeler: This is my first day. I did know one of the coaches, prior, the Senior Bowl when I was coming out of college, coach Tarver, and I talked to him on the phone before I signed and that kind of helped make my decision. He knows my ability and everything. That’s one coach I already knew. I feel like this is the best situation for me. I think, these coaches here, they were pretty adamant about the way they’re running their defenses. It’s a defensive head coach, he has a defensive mind, I wanted to come to a place that would take defense a little more serious.

Q: Was decision tough when it came down to it?

Wheeler: It was a tough decision any time you’re moving somewhere, especially when I have an opportunity to move on the other side of the country, to move toward a defense that, it looks like this defense is catered to linebackers and specifically the way I play, I think. It feels good to be around other good linebackers. It seems like it’s already a decent linebacking corps here, a pretty good linebacking corps. They’re young, just like myself so I feel this would be a great opportunity to build something here. As far as my decision, I had my choice to go to a couple other teams, Miami was one of ‘em. It was a hard decision, but it was a better fit for me here because of the type of defense and the type of scheme they’re running here and the type of coaches they got here.

Q: How is the defense catered to your style of play?

Wheeler: Coach Tarver told me there was going to be a lot of blitzing, just a lot of mixing up things, not just standing still in Cover 2 like I did in with the Indianapolis Colts for awhile. Nothing against that, we had a great offense that kept the lead a lot. We were able to sit back in Cover 2 and rush the passer a lot because teams had to catch up, and we had two great defensive ends that did that. But I also like to rush the passer and everything from the linebacker position and coach Tarver told me that it would be some of that going on.

Q: Impressed by how Raider fans reached out, how many followers did you pick up?

Wheeler: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know I think it was like 2,000. It was cool man, because that kind of helped me in my decision because it showed me how big of a football city this is and how much they paid attention to football instead of going somewhere else. Indianapolis, it was pretty good football city, but the fans, they didn’t’ get more involved in media, and just showing us how much they care about the game. I always wanted to play in a big football for a legendary team, something like that and that kind of helped me choose Oakland.

Q: How does knowing Peyton Manning help when you play him?

Wheeler: He’s going to be in a different situation than he was. I just know from practice and going against me, he helped me playing against the best quarterback in the league. I know how to step my game up because of that. As far as knowing what he’s going to do, he’s always unpredictable. That’s why he was so good. You don’t know where he is going with the ball. You know what type of play he runs but you don’t know when he’s going to run it. I feel like I’m better just from going up against him in practice every day and I’ll be prepared to face any quarterback like that. I think I can help the team do that.

Q: How do you set the edge as smaller strongside linebacker?

Wheeler: To be honest it’s kind of difficult for me to decide on a position for myself because I think I’m versatile. The coaches also recognize that. I feel like playing that position it comes pretty simple to me. I don’t worry about it as far as size and everything. I just want to be able to use all of my talent. I’m kind of a jack of all trades. I feel like in Indianapolis I wasn’t able to use everything that I had. It didn’t bore me. It just made my want to do something else, check to other teams. I just want to be able to use all of my talents. That’s all. I feel like I’ll be able to do that here. That’s why I chose to play here.

Q: Any sense how many guys showed up today?

Wheeler: I don’t know how much of the team was here. We had meetings, we had our first introduction meeting. A lot of new faces from what I here. I lot of new faces for me. Everybody got to know each other today.

Q: Used to see Raiders played 4-3, seldom blitzed and played a ton of man, sounds like new era will be different?

Wheeler: I actually heard some of the coaches saying we’re not just big and fast anymore. We’re going to be big, fast and we’re going to be smarter and have good football players. I played Madden a lot. I know a lot of players on the team because I play with the Raiders. They always had the fastest team. I always put Terrelle Pryor in the game and I run around with him on Madden. He’s probably my favorite player on the team. Nobody knows that yet. I play with him on Madden so I feel like I know everything about the team. They were always bigger, faster and stronger than everybody. But the awareness of the game, some of it was down or whatever. I feel like Mr. McKenzie brought in a lot of players in who actually know how to play the game and aren’t just faster than everybody. We have actual football players here now.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • PurpleDrank81

    PD81 Mock Draft

    3rd) Josh Chapman
    4th)Janzen Jackson
    5th)Miles Burris
    5th)Nicolas Jean Baptiste
    6th)Winston Guy Jr.

  • PurpleDrank81

    Any1 home????

  • Twocents

    I suspect that if McKenzie has a player that he just has to have and he is available in the early part of third round, he will have a plan to move up. But it will cost us.
    If not, then he will sit chilly and take the best that falls to 95. I have no clue who that is.

  • YoungAmerican

    Yeah, if Reggie sees a guy he thinks his team NEEDS, he’ll move up. But unless that happens, I think the Raiders will stand pat at #95. Nothing wrong with that approach.

  • YoungAmerican

    In a perfect world?

    3) NT Chapman
    4) OLB Brown
    5) DB Blanton
    5) OLB/ILB Burris
    6) DE/OLB Alexander

  • PurpleDrank81

    Well in a perfect world I’d be Rich and own the Raiders and Y/A would be my GM

  • YoungAmerican

    Alternatively…

    3) OLB Lewis
    4) FS Jackson
    5) NT Hicks
    5) ILB/OLB Burris
    6) DE/OLB Alexander

  • YoungAmerican

    Who knows. I don’t really know who I want the Raiders to pick at #95 aside from saying that I want it to be the best guy left on the Raiders’ draft board. Who knows what happens before they pick. A guy they might have a 2nd round grade on could free fall to #95 for whatever reason.

  • Twocents

    The only player that I think we could trade to get a high third would be Ford.

  • PurpleDrank81

    I’d like RG3 and Luke Kuechly and with Mat Kalil and DeCastro with Claiborne but hey my Perfect world is just alil different

  • YoungAmerican

    I think the Raiders could package Kelly and a 2013 4th to move up to the mid/late 3rd. Essentially trading the equivalent of two 4th rounders.

    But again, I only see that happening if a player they love is inexplicably dangling in front of them, but they’re not convinced he’ll be there at #95.

  • The Big Banana

    They were always bigger, faster and stronger than everybody. But the awareness of the game, some of it was down or whatever.

    ______________________________________________

    LMAO! Hear that, McClain?

  • The Big Banana

    That last response by Wheeler is VERY telling. Let’s get some football players in here. About dam time!

  • Twocents

    I vote for sticking with what we have and rely on picking up a couple of gems among the undrafted.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    Trading Kelly for a mid 3rd rounder is not worth it, imo. Unless they’re still shedding salary. Certainly not for production reasons.

  • Seymour Bush

    YoungAmerican Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I think the Raiders could package Kelly and a 2013 4th to move up to the mid/late 3rd. Essentially trading the equivalent of two 4th rounders.
    ========================================

    So you are giving up a Pro Bowl quality DT and a 4th rounder to get who?

  • raiderinparadise

    Kelly has outplayed Seymour the last 2 years. Seymour is a leader, but production is more important. His blocked FG’s against KC was huge tho :/

    I don’t think Reggie is going to trade for picks, he said he could field a team this Sunday if they had to. Therefore I think he will do best value wise with what they have and then dip into some undrafted FA’s and sort thru everything in camp/pre-season and maybe grab some players he liked from other teams when they are cut.

    In other words …. guy like Nick Miller, Sam Williams, Chaz Schilens in the past won’t be allowed to suck up roster space wihtout procduction and value the field.

    Ahhhhhhhhhh, a real franchise. finally.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    Tommy Kelly is the prototype 3 tech DT in the NFL.

  • YoungAmerican

    KoolKell Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Trading Kelly for a mid 3rd rounder is not worth it, imo. Unless they’re still shedding salary. Certainly not for production reasons.

    ————–

    They have adequate depth at 3-4 DE and 4-3 UT. Again, if a player they’re in love with is still on the board between 75-85, they should make a move.

    Otherwise? Kelly is not a bad piece to have around, but they should look at restructuring him at some point if they still intend on adding depth, especially at QB, LB, and OL. Plus they’ll eventually have to sign their draft picks.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    3-Technique (4-3 Pass Rush Tackle) – Tommy Kelly

    Probably the most well known of the defensive techniques, the 3-technique lines up shaded to the guard’s outside shoulder, ready to shoot the B-gap on his side of the formation. Various line shifts and defensive schemes have been developed with the express purpose of getting the 3-technique the most beneficial situation possible, which is why guys like Warren Sapp, John Randle, Keith Millard and now Ndamukong Suh have been able to rack-up sack numbers. The 4-3 Under front, discussed in our article on Hybrid defenses, was designed to isolate the weak side guard 1-on-1 with the 3-technique (or under) tackle. This player’s job is to penetrate the line of scrimmage through his B-gap and disrupt plays in the backfield, whether pass or run. Unlike the first two tackle positions, the 3-technique relies far more on speed and agility than brute strength. Oakland’s Tommy Kelly is arguably the NFL’s prototype for the position. At 6’6 and 300lbs he is quick, nimble and has the kind of burst off the ball that can make it tough for a blocker to recover position.
    .
    Alternative prototypes: Kevin Williams, Shaun Rogers, Kyle Williams

    http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2011/08/12/defensive-line-techniques-the-prototypes/
    .

  • YoungAmerican

    So you are giving up a Pro Bowl quality DT and a 4th rounder to get who?

    ——————-

    Sack numbers are cool and all. Constantly losing the battle against double teams when you’re supposed to be the 1-tech DT? Leaving your gap in pursuit and in turn opening up huge holes in the middle for cutback runners to exploit? Not so much.

    But again, he’s not a bad piece to have around. But if the new regime sees a player they can live without within reach, but they don’t think he’ll still be there at #95? I don’t have a problem with them moving up, and Kelly would be the most logical piece to use to make such a move.

  • Chris in NY

    43,
    I think it makes sense to resign Gio. Capable vet who made some big plays last season. Solid backup who knows how to play the game.

  • Seymour Bush

    KoolKell Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Tommy Kelly is the prototype 3 tech DT in the NFL.
    ======================================

    This is exactly right. You guys have to get out of the 345lb UT mindset. That was 5 or 6 years. That player now can only get on the field in goal line and short yardage situations. Kelly is a 3 down DT who rushes the passer very well. You guys blame our ren defense woes on him, but it is not his fault. 55, looking at you here.

  • Twocents

    It does make it interesting. Back when Al was in charge I had an idea of what would happen.
    Now, a whole new regime.

  • Angry Villager with Pitchfork

    I ONLY use the Raiders when I play Madden. Created a spread offense in shotgun 95% of the time. I keep online opponents guessing by using both CP3 and Pryor in the spread. Raider D is weak this year though LOL

  • raiderinparadise

    Koolkell

    I’m all about putting him at DT. Seymour and Shaunghessy at ends and Houston/Bryant to step in at times.

    Allen and Tarver will have fun with tweaking some unique schemes I’m sure. Lamar could play a LB in a 3-4 … he is fast enough and athletic enough

  • YoungAmerican

    You guys have to get out of the 345lb UT mindset.

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

    UT is what Kelly is. 1-tech DT, or 4-3 NT, is what he plays.

    Has nothing to do with his measurables. Everything to do with his style of play.

  • alzadoX

    Twocents Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:18 pm
    I suspect that if McKenzie has a player that he just has to have and he is available in the early part of third round, he will have a plan to move up. But it will cost us.
    If not, then he will sit chilly and take the best that falls to 95. I have no clue who that is.

    ****

    if we trade up, we can’t use 2012 #3, 4, or any compensatory picks. No matter what, we will use the compensatory picks where they are unless the world blows up, there is a terrorist/ disruption at the draft, or we pass and let another team pick before us. Actually that happened when the Vikings picked DT Kevin Williams

    of course April pre-draft and during draft is biggest trade time of year. But it’s hard to get value in trades, the new Reggime likes value, but if the coaches determine that certain players don’t fit new schemes after first ota 4/17-18 or so then those players may be traded anyway for whatever we can get.

    CP3 said Knapp wants “to throw a lot of balls over receiver’s heads” apparently lofted touch passes receiver runs under. DHB weak point is tracking the ball, but he could improve here like he has in other areas. DHB is good at catching underneath and running after catch, and I believe Knapp will like that.

    A player like Kelly could be worth a lot in a trade in like September if a top contender has a key DL go down to injury or something, but it’s hard to trade these guys and get value in return at this time of year

  • YoungAmerican

    Giordano would make sense. Affordable veteran depth, good locker room guy, experience with Dennis Allen. As far as I’m aware, the Raiders only have Michael Huff at FS currently.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    They have adequate depth at 3-4 DE and 4-3 UT. Again, if a player they’re in love with is still on the board between 75-85, they should make a move.
    ———————————-
    Who could you be in love with, at bet 75-85, who’s going to be more valuable than TK?

    So Dez Bryant replaces Kelly if traded, then where does the UT depth, go?

  • Seymour Bush

    They have adequate depth at 3-4 DE and 4-3 UT.
    =================================

    They only have Bryant, Kelly and Seymour. Houston is a DE/DT replacement.

  • http://www.addictedtoquack.com RaiderDuck

    KoolKell Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Trading Kelly for a mid 3rd rounder is not worth it, imo. Unless they’re still shedding salary. Certainly not for production reasons.

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

    At this stage of his career, Kelly is probably a 4-3 DT only. He doesn’t really have a position in the 3-4.

  • Chris in NY

    Tommy Kelly kicks @ss. You guys are crazy. I realize he’s a been a presence on some poor run Ds, but I blame that more on simplistic schemes, sub-par DCs and very poor MLB play. Last two years TK has been one of the best around.

  • YoungAmerican

    They only have Bryant, Kelly and Seymour. Houston is a DE/DT replacement.

    ————————-

    Bryant, Kelly, Seymour, and Houston all play the same position. 3-tech DT. Houston, in my opinion, is a little out of position at LDE because he doesn’t offer much as an edge rusher. Better disrupting plays from the inside.

    All four of these guys could also translate to 5-tech DE in 3-4 looks.

  • YoungAmerican

    Who could you be in love with, at bet 75-85, who’s going to be more valuable than TK?

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

    Ask the GM. Like I said, personally I’m comfortable picking at #95. But players inexplicably fall in the draft all the time. Coaches see things in some players that other coaches don’t. Some players do things that fits exactly what a coach wants to do. Worst thing any GM can do is have no plan whatsoever for such a contingency.

  • Seymour Bush

    When you are now going to face Peyton Manning at least twice a year, and Phillip Rivers, you HAVE to have guys that can rush up the middle. Those two negate outside rushers with their quick releases. And we don’t have outside rushers any ways. So getting rid of Kelly and Seymour would be absolutely disastrous. Unless you are going to replace them with a Willfork or Nndamakung Suh.

  • Chris in NY

    Not crazy about going with a ton of 3-4 this year. Unless Goethel proves really good and everyone stays healthy I don’t see how we have the LBs to make that our primary look. Maybe we’ll see more of Mike Mitchell in some kind of hybrid LB/S role this year in a pseudo 3-4.

  • Seymour Bush

    Bryant, Kelly, Seymour, and Houston all play the same position. 3-tech DT.
    =======================================

    This is true. But to get a true UT, you would then have to sign another player, who would come in on passing downs. Or just keep Kelly, even tho he is slightly out of position.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    I haven’t seen ANY signs of the Defense going 3-4, based on roster moves, so far.

  • Chris in NY

    On the other hand, don’t have much faith in McClain in a 4-3 so I’m not sure which way to go.

  • YoungAmerican

    KoolKell Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I haven’t seen ANY signs of the Defense going 3-4, based on roster moves, so far.

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

    It’s not a matter of “going 3-4″ or “staying 4-3″. They’re going to play both. That’s what good defenses do. You have to have versatility on defense if you want to compete with QBs like Peyton Manning.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    The Raiders have a roster of big-fast, explosive defensive lineman. Why go 3-4?

  • DutchRaider77

    I haven’t seen ANY signs of the Defense going 3-4, based on roster moves, so far.

    _______________________________________________________

    Raiders bringing in Sammy Brown

    http://bayarea.sbnation.com/oakland-raiders/2012/4/2/2920074/2012-nfl-draft-oakland-raiders-scheduled-to-meet-with-houston

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    YoungAmerican Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    It’s not a matter of “going 3-4″ or “staying 4-3″. They’re going to play both. That’s what good defenses do. You have to have versatility on defense if you want to compete with QBs like Peyton Manning.
    —————————————-
    It’s true, I’m getting older, but I don’t know of any defenses that play both 4-3, 3-4?

    You, who?

  • YoungAmerican

    It’s true, I’m getting older, but I don’t know of any defenses that play both 4-3, 3-4?

    You, who?

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

    Patriots, Ravens, 49ers, Dolphins (soon the Falcons under Mike Nolan), Texans, Jets, Bills… I’m sure the list goes on.

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    DutchRaider77 Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I haven’t seen ANY signs of the Defense going 3-4, based on roster moves, so far.

    _______________________________________________________

    Raiders bringing in Sammy Brown

    http://bayarea.sbnation.com/oakland-raiders/2012/4/2/2920074/2012-nfl-draft-oakland-raiders-scheduled-to-meet-with-houston
    —————————————
    Nice post, Lol. we’ll see.

  • r8eray

    Tuesday, Nike unveils our new jersey!!

  • http://www.Raiders.com KoolKell

    Patriots, Ravens, 49ers, Dolphins (soon the Falcons under Mike Nolan), Texans, Jets, Bills… I’m sure the list goes on.
    ————————————
    Those are all 3-4 teams

    http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/sfo/lineups.htm

    I don’t know how much 4-3 they play, if any. I don’t see how you can have a roster fit for both.

  • Twocents

    More and more we see weird defensive alignments and offenses going to a no huddle scheme.
    I think Tarver is up to the task, at least I hope.

  • alzadoX

    YoungAmerican Says:
    April 2nd, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Bryant, Kelly, Seymour, and Houston all play the same position. 3-tech DT. Houston, in my opinion, is a little out of position at LDE because he doesn’t offer much as an edge rusher. Better disrupting plays from the inside.

    All four of these guys could also translate to 5-tech DE in 3-4 looks.

    *********

    I agree. Lots of talented players with somewhat similar styles, but underproductive in past. I think creative new defensive coaches will shuffle the deck more than we may imagine. Seymour’s knees may last longer at DE. I think Tommy Kelly (and the others mentioned) could fit well as 3-4 DE. As far as edge rush, LDE is usually on strong side, and is usually a guy who can hold the point vs run (and preferrably provide a strong pass rush too; often more of a power rusher). The best edge rusher is usually RDE in 4-3. Of course, Robert Mathis played LDE for Colts for last 8-9 years or so, and he’s obviously an edge rusher.

    I also think if RDE Sho’Nasty is healthy he should be a 10 sack a year guy. Not certain if he fits a 3-4 though, a little stiff for a hybrid but he’s a baller.