Ok...I caught a lot of flak for the offensive version of this list, (Top Oakland Raiders Who Didn't Carry Their Weight on Offense in 2009) because I didn't hold enough players accountable. Allow me to make some things perfectly clear.
There are a lot of reasons for the dismal performances turned in by our defense last season...not all of which were even on the field.
There were injuries, an anemic offense, poor coaching decisions, poor player adjustments and yes, there were plenty of mental breakdowns and poor fundamentals.
This list is my opinion of the five defensive players that were the furthest from fulfilling their potential and expectations...not necessarily the players that were most responsible for the failure of the defense or the ones that played the worst.
I am not about to suggest that Kirk Morrison is a bad player or that he is the sole reason for the woes on defense. I will say that he certainly played a part in the team failure and hasn't reached his ceiling.
He is streaky. He'll follow three great reads, plays or tackles with a bad miss in the hole or he'll overpursue and give up his gap responsibility.
In the game against the Giants he made a bunch of tackles (16), but Ahmad Bradshaw juked him out of his socks a few times!
Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "Morrison played better than Thomas Howard!" I won't argue with that. Truthfully, I didn't expect much out of Thomas Howard last year. He actually exceeded my expectations.
I believe this guy has a lot of talent, but being asked to play out of position and learn all the calls is tough for any player. The Raiders can either draft Rolando McClain, pick up Gary Bracket or let Trevor Scott play MLB and move Morrison back outside...where he belongs.
That would allow is natural ability to take over a bit, then he can get back to perfecting fundamentals again. This would also allow him to be more productive in coverage and add some speed to the edge of the D.
With changes like these, Kirk Morrison could really benefit this team now and in the future.
It is my contention that Ricky Brown should not be starting for any NFL team. He makes one or two good plays a game, then turns around and makes five or six bad ones.
Honestly, I don't know what to make of this guy. One minute I watch him and think, "What a great play. Maybe this kid can play." The next..."Uhhhh...what was that, Rick?"
I've seen him make textbook reads and tackles! I've just never seen it two or three plays in a row and I don't know what to suggest that would make that happen.
I'm at a loss...
All I know is that the expectation was to be a quality starting linebacker for an NFL team. That hasn't happened and puts him at number three on this list.
Talk about getting caught with your pants down!
Look, this guy is not a bad player, but he just can't seem to be consistent. Great game followed by bad. Sometimes he plays in their backfield, some times he's looks like he's on roller skates!
I think he's overpaid and Al Davis should consider asking him to restructure his contract. He was supposed to be our anchor on the D-line, but has played no better than an average second- or third-string "rotation" guy.
He needs to pick up his play and I'm sure he understands that. Now the question becomes...will he or won't he?
I think the body language in that picture speaks volumes...but I like to talk so...
Stanford Routt hasn't come anywhere near reaching his potential in his career. He has 23 deflections and 4 interceptions in 5 seasons. That's not even average.
In the man-to-man scheme of the Oakland Raiders he is abysmal. He couldn't cover himself with a blanket! I expected much more from him out of college.
He is a great blitzer and he has the physical tools to be solid. With some coaching help from newly hired Clancy Pendergast he should get better, but how much better remains to be seen.
I guess we'll see if he can improve, or if he continues to falter. Let's hope for the best, because it looks like Al Davis is loyal to this guy.
He didn't work out in Cleveland or Denver...why was he picked up again? Oh yeah, it was to control gaps and make tackles. How's that working out for the team?
He is listed at 330 pounds. That's too heavy for him to be effective and it makes him lumbering, lethargic, and unable to change direction...oh...and it makes him tire easy. Not good traits in a DT!
This Florida Gator played very well in college and earned a third overall draft position in 2001.
His rookie year was pretty sensational when he tallied 61 tackles, 5 sacks and 3 deflections for the Cleveland Browns. Pretty good numbers for any DT, much less a rookie!
Since then his production has been on a steady decline. His best season as a Raider was 2008 when he totaled 39 tackles and 4 sacks. Not horrible, but not even close to his potential.
Now he is beginning to really show his age. He is tiring out, not in the fourth quarter, but in the third. All athletes start to slow down a bit when they reach 30, and Warren is no exception.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, his downward spiral started in 2007.
The slight surge in his stats when he came to Oakland was due to more playing time, not improved play. I don't think his career is over, but it will be if he doesn't work a little harder than the young guys.
If it were up to me, I'd be looking REALLY closely at Gerald McCoy from Oklahoma.
If we can get a good MLB through free agency then we should use that No. 8 pick on a DT. If not, then Rolando McClain, MLB-Alabama, should be available.
Who knows? Getting a young stud in there to challenge him could push Warren into playing up to the level he is capable of and help this team. If not, he will sit on the bench and spell the starters.
Now we just wait and see how Al Davis deals with this going forward.
We need to strengthen the middle of our front seven. There are several ways to do that.
The draft seems to be the most logical choice because free agents will not be as easy to acquire as they were in the past. Due to the uncapped year coming in 2010, teams will be less likely to let good players go.
If we do choose to use the draft, we have to use the No. 8 overall pick on a DT or MLB because the talent drop off from round one to rounds two and three is steep on the defensive side.
I know, I know...everyone is saying, "we need to use that No. 8 pick on an OT."
The O-line position is unusually deep in the draft this year and the D-line is not. As I have said before, we can get a good, young OT in the second and third rounds.
The defensive line position will be tapped out of potential starters by the early second round. We must use the No. 8 pick for defense. Just my take.
That said, there are a few players I feel can really help this team right away.
1. Gerald McCoy-DT-OK. He's not Ndomukong Suh, but he's the next best thing. He can be an anchor up front for years to come.
2. Rolando McClain-MLB-AL. This is by far the best, most well-rounded MLB in the draft. He has a nose for the ball and a nasty streak. He loves to punish ball carriers.
3. Brandon Spikes-MLB-FL. This kid is a good backer, but has his flaws. He flows well and understands his gap responsibilities, but his fundamentals need consistency.
I would love to see Al Davis draft one of these guys and get things turned around for this defense, but if Russell Okung is still there at No. 8 we almost have to take him. He'd be the only offensive player I would take at No. 8 over the defensive players mentioned above.
I know everyone has an opinion about this and some of you are thinking I'm crazy. I look forward to hearing where and why you think I'm wrong.
Let the debate begin!