John Henderson: Just What the Oakland Raiders Needed
The Oakland Raiders run defense has been horrible, atrocious, and whatever other unflattering terms you might like to call it.
Looking back at some of last season's game tape, the biggest problems were centered around the right and left A gap. Plug in Henderson for Warren, McClain for Morrison, and the change will be drastic.
Comparing the Raiders run defense last season to years past it was actually better, which doesn't say much at all.
The reason why the Raiders gave up the most big plays on the run was a single gap mistake, or Warren or Kelly just getting dominated off the ball. It is imperative that we fix our gap issues.
Look at the premier running backs we will be facing this season: Chris Johnson (assuming his contract issues are settled), Steven Jackson, Frank Gore, and Maurice Jones-Drew.
That list of backs doesn't even include the rising stars in our division like Jamaal Charles, Knowshon Moreno, and the tandem of Darren Sproles and Ryan Matthews.
Most of those guys make their living running between the tackles.
While recently signed defensive tackle John Henderson is certainly not the same player he was two or three years ago, there's no reason he can't be a force against the run. And remember, he's going to be playing for his last contract, which should keep him motivated.
It's also been rumored that the Raiders may be using some 3-4 defensive looks, which would put Henderson's position as a nose tackle.
Henderson has never been in a 3-4 scheme so it may be difficult for him to adjust. But then again, defensive coordinator John Marshall doesn't exactly have a complex defense, so maybe it won't be so difficult.
I expect them to use that look more on first and second downs. The Raiders probably won't have him in more than 25 plays per game. While his pass rushing skills are not terrible, he's definitely not as quick as he once was.
This should be Oakland's final move to shore up the run defense. The Raiders made it a real focus this offseason, and succeeded in doing so.
Will these moves affect their pass defense? By trading Kirk Morrison, and converting Trevor Scott to WLB, it may.
In the end, the Raiders improved themselves this offseason. Reading about practice sessions, it seems the culture has changed. Let's hope and expect for a big season, Raider Nation!
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