I want to begin by giving a thank you to Kirk Morrison.
He let it all hang out there week after week, and I think Raider Nation appreciated that.
However, Morrison was the single biggest problem that plagued the Oakland Raiders run defense.
I can assure you that it wasn't Tommy Kelly's problem, and occasionally was Gerrard Warren's mistake.
Why was Morrison responsible for those big runs the Raiders gave up?
I picked the Cowboy game last season for this article. The reason being that it had all three game scenarios that would work for this article.
Here are the three possible reasons, followed by examples from the Dallas Cowboy Thanksgiving Day game:
Reason #1 : Morrison Got Blocked by a Fullback
The Raiders played with eight men in the box, with Morrison lining up behind the right B gap. The Cowboys were lined up (0:10 second mark on the highlight) in the wildcat.
Tashard Choice cuts straight to the left B gap. The fullback makes a terrific block on Morrison, and the result was a 60+ yard gain.
You could make this the case of being Sam Williams fault also, but it was Morrison's job to make a play after Gerrard Warren got double teamed.
If one of the two tackles gets double teamed, there's nobody's fault, but Morrison's, to make a play on the ball carrier.
Reason #2 : Morrison Over Pursued
The very next play, the Raiders aligned in almost the same formation. Morrison, lined up by the right B gap.
He over pursued. He got trapped behind C Andre Gurode and LG Kyle Kosier.
Thankfully, Michael Huff made a touchdown saving tackle on the play.
Reason # 3: Morrison Got Blocked by a Guard
The Raiders lined up in the standard 4-3 alignment. The ball is handed off to Felix Jones.
I believe the Cowboys' plan was actually to have the left guard try and block the A gap, but the right guard eventually got Morrison.
Kirk Morrison made the correct play, but the right guard handled him with ease.
This is probably the biggest reason why the Raiders drafted McClain.
Morrison's hits are weak, while the Butkus' award winner punishes guards and fullbacks.
What you've got with Morrison is him getting pushed back instead of him doing the pushing.
I can't promise that the run defense will automatically be fixed with the drafting of McClain. The number eight overall pick does over pursue his share of times also. But I feel that we definitely needed a bigger presence at middle linebacker.
With the switch from Gerrard Warren to John Henderson, it clearly makes the Raiders a better team defensively.
All of these scouting services say Morrison was this great/good player, just because he led the Raiders in tackles for the past five seasons.
If they actually looked at the tape, they would find out that Morrison's miscues were a big part of the run defense woes for a team that's struggled in that area for the better part of the last decade.
On a serious note, I do wish Kirk the best in Jacksonville. You couldn't ask for a better guy.
From what I hear, Rolando McClain isn't too shabby either.