Oakland Raiders Defensive Problems May Not Be Fixed by 3-4

D.J. O'ConnorSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 28, 2012

ENGLEWOOD, CO - JULY 28:  Dennis Allen, Defensive Coordinator of the Denver Broncos directs the defense during training camp at the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre at Dove Valley on July 28, 2011 in Englewood, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

So another season has come and gone in Raider Nation but the result has been the same as it has been since 2003—missing the playoffs. There have been numerous issues since 2003 that have come and gone, but there are two consistent issues: penalties and defense.

The defense hasn't been terrible since 2003 (ranking among league leaders in pass defense a few times), but this past season it was terrible under Chuck Bresnahan, who I would call a has been—though that would imply he was good at one time, which he wasn't. The offense carried the Raiders from 2000-2002 when they were a playoff team, as Bresnahan's defense coat-tailed along the way.

The Raiders have brought in Dennis Allen as their new head coach, and I'm sure you have all read many times he is the first defensive-minded coach since John Madden. Allen is yet to find a defensive coordinator, but it is more than likely he will make the calls on defense.

So will Allen change the Raiders from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense?

While Allen was in Denver, the Broncos were 4-3, but keep in mind that Allen was under John Fox, who was in charge on defense. Allen has coached on teams that have had 3-4 and 4-3 base defenses, looking back on his time in New Orleans and Atlanta.

The question is sure to come up Monday when Allen meets the Bay Area media at his introductory news conference, but Allen shouldn't be too fast to commit to a defensive scheme.

The Raiders are a strangely built defense, having a strong defensive line which benefits from the 4-3, but the linebackers are built better for the 3-4. Kamerion Wimbley, Richard Seymour and Rolando McClain have experience in 3-4 defenses. But with the talent and depth on the defensive line, is it wise to take out one of those linemen and put in another linebacker?

The Raiders could look into free agency or the draft to find a suitable linebacker for the 3-4, but I don't see a stud behind McClain, Wimbley and Aaron Curry, who should start. Quentin Groves is from a 3-4 defense in Jacksonville, but I'm not sold on him or the versatile DE/OLB Trevor Scott as a starter.

There's also the question of which lineman would be removed from the starting lineup? Matt Shaugnessy was a good defensive end until a season ending injury last year, but he seems like the weak link on a line of Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston.

Maybe the Raiders can include both sets of defense according to the game plan. That would certainly make them tougher to study by opposing offenses. The Raiders have been a 4-3 defense since 2003, but it seems "change" has been the key word since Reggie McKenzie took over.  

Only time will tell.