Defense - 5 Players to Watch


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Nov 2, 2005
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To me the most important players to watch during camp are as follows:

1.) Thomas Howard - LB - Finally some speed within the LB'er corps. I think it's extremely important that this speedy LB'er can secure a starting spot from day-1. We currently have no answer for the swift TE's in the AFC West.

2.) Rashad Moore - DT - I'm going to watch this guy very carefully. We need someone to assume the Ted Washington role of clogging the middle and occupy, at least on occasion, two OL. As I mentioned earlier, a tandem of Sapp/Kelly would allow teams to run on us too easily. If Moore can be at least adequate, it will allow us to take advantage of our apparent upgrades in speed and athletiscim. If Moore (or someone else) doesn't secure the job, our speed will be negated and teams will simply mash us to pieces.

3.) Antajj Hawthorne - DL - I personally believe that Warren Sapp is going to be a non-factor. I'm not sure what to make of this guy, but all reports are that he's a 1-gap penetrator ala Warren Sapp. Hopefully he's been sufficiently humbled by not only tumbling in the 2005 draft, but he was also relagated to NFL Europe.

4.) Stuart Schwiegert - FS - Make or break year for this dude. The team appears set on allowing Huff to play the rover DB role, but what is Schwiegert continues his alarming tendency to badly miss tackles? If he isn't playing lights out during camp, I say bench his ass. The leash should be very short IMHO....

5.) Sam Williams - LB - I'm predicting big things from Williams this year. If healthy, he should be able to unseat Danny Clark and woudn't that be nice to see Williams-Morrison-Howard at LB'er? What a far cry from the Brayton-Clark-Morrison last season.

I selected these five because I basically assume that Fabian Washington, Nmandi Asomugah and Michael Huff will take care of business in the secondary, Derrick Burgess and Tommy Kelly will play solid along the line, Lance Johnstone will provide a nice complement to Burgess on passing downs and Kirk Morrison will continue to be fundamentally sound at LB'er.
I'm with you on Sam Williams. This guy has game and it's time he gets a break and stays healthy. If by some chance that happens and Clark is moved to the bench it would provide us with some quaity depth which we haven't had in ages. But then we're assuming that Howard comes right in and is able to start. Well, Harris did it so I don't see why this guy can't seeing as he looks to have more talent.

Asw for Kelly, according to all the reports I've read coming from Art Shell, Kelly will be playing DT.

Agree again on Stu. He's had fl;ashes but this is year three and no more time for messing around. Don't want another Derrick Gibson 6 year experiment.
Those are definitely 5 critical players for the season. And as far as the young guys go, you nailed them.

Someone at DT will have to step up, and we've got a grip of them. In fact, I understand the marching orders are to go young on the DL around Sapp. So everyone is going to have to step up. Moore and Hawthorne are definitely guys who can do it. How well remains to be seen.

I think Bing becomes critical if Stu can't become a consistent contributor. Who the hell want's to put Gibson back on the field if we move Huff to FS? Not me brother!

Of the old far... uh veterans, I think Brooks will be critical to our success this season. He is the typical Al Davis reclamation project. A very talented guy who wore out his welcome and no-one else wanted to take the risk.

From everything I've read, Brooks is a solid guy who's looking to prove his critics wrong. Look at his stats people! It would have been a no-brainer if he was available when we snatched that pound of flesh, Collins.

But if Brooks falters we've got to hope either Tui or Walter is ready.
Oh, you said defense. I got carried away. Defense is really the critical unit this year. Offense will be brimming with vets except for McMullet at RG. And while some might say Gallery and Grove are in breakout or get out seasons, I think the new scheme will prove incredibly well suited to their talents, not to mention the coaching.
A fast start is paramount for Brooks...

Rupert said:
But if Brooks falters we've got to hope either Tui or Walter is ready.
Unlike the last two seasons I think Brooks will be on a short leash.

It's pretty clear that Walter is the guy in the organization's mind (he's been elevated to #2 apparently). So if the Radiers get off to one of their patented 1-3 or worse starts look for the Andrew Walter era to begin in Oakland.
You know, I think Brooks will give Raider nation a pleasant surprise. I'm worried that he will do well enough to keep Walter on the bench next year as well. Unless Brooks gets all contract upset.
I really like Sam Williams too and I am hoping he finally stays healthy. Schweig still scares me with his tackling but he is doing fine so far on the other aspects. The DTs still worry me some.

On offense, Grove has worried me since mid season. That is the spot on the offensive line that I most worry about.
I'm still concerned that Michael Huff is a bit small to play SS. I realize in the Raider scheme, the safety plays all over the field and isn't quite the traditional SS in the mold of Rodney Harrison, but I think Huff should be at FS simply to maximize his big play potential.

It really depends on Schwiegert I suppose. If this cat is still missing tackles, I say bench him quickly and move Huff to FS. I think SS can be found between Bing, Gibson and Cooper.
I think Bing becomes critical if Stu can't become a consistent contributor. Who the hell want's to put Gibson back on the field if we move Huff to FS? Not me brother!
i love Stu's progress. I think he is becoming a damn good player and showed flashes of such towards the end of last year. I'm hoping he gets 5 int's this year. with him and huff back there it should be interesting.
I would really like Huff to play FS but that will depend on Stu's ability to progress. Huff looks like a guy who can cover a lot of ground and would be good in that centerfield free lance situation. but for now it looks like he'll play SS and do the "Woodson" thing in the 4-2-5 scheme which I think we might run at the beginning of the seaon.

I like Fabs and Aso as our corners.
I love Washington and Asomugah at Corner as well. BTW, is there a bigger hitter at the CB position than Aso? Dude brings the wood from that position IMO. Washington is a scrappy, quick player who will almost assuredly get at least a few INT's this season. Both are fundamentally sound and that is what makes them a solid tandem.

I still think Huff is a bit small to play SS, but obviously the Raiders disagree.

It really appears that certain players like Huff, Morrison and Tommy Kelly will slide around depending on down & distance situations. Morrison plays a little MLB and OLB, Huff appears destined to play the Safety-rover role that CWOOD had last season and Tommy Kelly will slide between DE/DT it would appear.

I think Rob Ryan's goal is to run the hybrid defense that he has been trying to develop for two years. 3/4, 4/3 and 4/2/5 - that is why we have so many versatile and/or tweener type guys on defense IMO. Darnell Bing? OLB or SS? Perhaps a compbination of both? Thomas Howard? Should get plenty of PT when the team goes with 3 or 4 LB'ers, but will probably sit when we go 4-2-5. I love the potential flexibility that this group has to offer.
Well the Raiders seem to think Bing is going to be converted to LB. I'm not sure we couldn't just sick him at SS and put Huff at FS. Done. Apparently the Raiders don't agree with me. (Bastards). Besides we have yet to see Bing on the field and Howard either for that matter.

I'm still not down with this switching the defenses around so much. The players don't seem to be able to grasp the concept for the most part. Hey, I think we need to walk before we run. Ryan better get it straight. He'll be on the hot seat if the "D" goes tits up again this year.

My guess is we'll be complaining about the defense more this year as I think Rupert pointed out the offense will probably be a lot better this year.

So is it the defense's turn in the barrel?
Here's the issue (slight though it is) that I have with Bing at safety, he's relatively slow at 4.6. Check out Howard at OLB, he's faster. Now, if you know where to be and when to be there, then hell speed isn't as important. Another knock on Bing is his coverage skills, but with a good teacher he can come around a bit. So if we're using man coverage with our safeties, we're not going to be able to use Bing (yet).

Regarding Huff being small as a SS, he's 6-0 198. Lawyer Milloy is listed as 6-0 190 and hits like a ton of bricks. No-one has questions whether he's big enough to play SS. Additionally, when Milloy came into the league he was generously listed at 6-0, so he grew into the position. Huff should be no different. He should be able to add some NFL muscles and bulk up another 5-10 with no problem and no loss of speed.

I'm not worried about that at all.
OK, fair enough about the size question, but do you think that more "big plays" can be had from the FS spot OR with the Raider scheme it's irrelavent since the SS is used in any number of roles?
I think the SS is actually more likely to make big plays in the Raiders' defensive scheme. I think Stu is perfectly suited for the role we're using the FS for, coming over the top and slamming a sucker or breaking up the pass. The FS in our scheme is a support role, and Stu is great at that. He definitely came a long way at being where he needed to be a LOT more last season, picking off a couple and breaking some passes up.

I admit Stu needs to sure up his tackling more than a little, but if the guys up front are taking care of business, he won't need to be the last line of defense too often.

With Huff up front and playing a coverage role as the SS, we can leave Stu in centerfield reading and reacting. I think it's ideal.
Yeah I think what is happening up front affects Stu a lot. Nothing new however. It reamins to be seen what kind of pass rush we're going to be able to create. I've said it before that as great a season that Burgess had last season when he wasn't applying the pressure nobody was and our secondary paid dearly.
It's always fun to dig up old threads to see how are thoughts at the time bear out. Oh and yes, I'm shamelessly pimping my own thread !!!

I acutally thought Rashad Moore was a player to watch? Bwhahahahahaha

Watch what? The waiver wire?
Ahh, when hope sprang eternal.
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