Now, comes the fun part of Oakland's season. The other part of the team...
Yep, we're talking the defense. Also known as, "the guys that need to stop the other team from scoring."
The last few seasons were a mish-mash of oddly constucted defenses, a few bright spots, but pure and simple we couldn't stop the run.
Case in point, any game we played in had a running back go wild on us. LT loves playing us. Even third stringers loved trying us out.
Okay, so let's look at the bright points.
We know how to pick off passes. We have Nmandi Asomugha, who did well with his chances. Of course, the previous season, he punished QBs with picks. We have Derrick Burgess, who's gotten 35 sacks in three years, and last year, in only 14 games, still had eight.
We've got Kirk Morrison, from an LB position, getting six picks in three seasons, all in the last two years.
In the offseason, we said goodbye to Warren Sapp. In his place, there's a cast of guys looking for the keys to the line.
We added in DeAngelo Hall, another CB to force teams to play honest and gamble on long throws...something not seen in Oakland, since Hayes and Haynes played in the 80s.
Now, what sort of defense, should we expect to see from this team?
Well, the basic premise, is pretty simple: stack the box. Close the safeties in, and let the corners roam out, forcing teams into three choices:
•Throw deep, and hope for a bad day by the CBs.
•Go over the middle, and hope one LB didn't see you.
•Hope their line still can't tackle with all these players at close coverage.
Personally, on a set like this, you could mix in a blitz, or, for a royal surprise, bring everyone. Granted, it works only on one or two plays, but throwing it when no one expects it...well, it would be funny to find Philips running for his life from DeAngelo Hall.
The second option calls for a dual spread with CB and S set back in a more open formation. The downside is that it offers the offense a better chance to run the holes. After last season I'd only do this if I felt either Kalimba Edwards, Greg Spires, etc., could step up and replace Sapp's position—it'll be iffy.
There's also been questions if Rob Ryan will try to go back to his original idea of going 3-4, something he tried his first season only to have it fail horribly due to Sapp's inability to play the position well.
All in all, it'll be fun to see how the first major training camp with vets unfolds. If anything, let them get down and dirty, shake loose the rust. And if you can't cut it, join the unemployment line.
Or, go to another team.