Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

February 1, 2008
LBs provide stability

All you have to do is look at the linebackers on the Raiders roster.

I should have been done with position reviews a week or so ago, but I put them off because Raiders headquarters became the center of tabloid-like situations.

I like the Raiders linebackers. Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard figure to be a few Pro Bowls in the near future. Robert Thomas is talented and versatile.

The trio is athletic enough that reports Lane Kiffin wanted to switch to a Cover 2 scheme made sense because having three linebackers that can run is a most in that system.

Some would lament the linebackers and their work against the run because with the exception of Howard on the weakside, the other two lack the bulk of other backers, and led to them being pushed around.

There were times they weren't in the best of positions. Even with four linebacker sets, the Raiders couldn't slow most running games. But with better play up front, the linebackers will have no excuse not to rack up tackles.

Morrison is as smart as they come. Howard is a freakish athlete (remember him playing cornerback covering Braylon Edwards?). Thomas can do it all.

Depth is the biggest concern. The Raiders had Ricky Brown, Isaiah Ekejiuba, Sam Williams and Jon Alston in reserve, but all three are key special teams players with none of them in the mold of the starters

Ekejiuba is going to be a free agent and should be a top priority.

One thing the coaching staff could do to get more from the linebackers in the passing game is blitz. Morrison and Howard combined for 10 interceptions, but the linebacking unit only produced two sacks.

I know this goes against the philosophy of the Raiders (Al Davis) but the athleticism of the backers is wasted when they don't do more.

And I have a hard time Rob Ryan, who came from the aggressive Bill Belichick and was raised by the man that won a Super Bowl with the '85 Bears using the 46 defense, is against blitzing.

Since Ryan is going to be back, I'd like to see him to use some of the blitzes that were there to help against the run in the passing game, too.

But overall, there's not much to complain about with this group.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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