Rolando McClain Lacks Instincts To Lead Oakland Raiders Defense

Dennis ParslowContributor ISeptember 23, 2011

Rolando McLain Is Just a Step Behind
Rolando McLain Is Just a Step BehindRick Stewart/Getty Images

A step behind.  After rewatching the Raiders game yesterday I came away with the sad realization that Rolando McClain was always a step behind. I watched this early in his career, and thought it was just a rookie thing, that he would start to dominate soon.   Especially after a few body slams got us all excited.

Unfortunately, the occasional body slam is not what silver and black defense needs.  They need their big, strong, smart first-round middle linebacker to make plays.  They need him to lead this defense when they are leading by four points, on the road, with a chance to start the season 2-0.    Instead, he kind of "floats" around the field, just a step short.  If you watched Urlacher early in his career, you saw a guy who may have been out of position at times, but he had such good instincts that he was right more often, and most of all, he made plays all over the place.  

On running plays, he steps toward the line, plays patty cake with the linemen as he tries to figure out where the play is going.  Oops, it just went by on his right.  Oops, the left this time.  Then, he can't really chase the play because he doesn't have the type of speed.    On one of Jackson's TD's he slowed down and let the DB's chase.   If he had sprinted all out instead of jogging, he would have been able to tackle him when he was forced to cut back and maybe even cause a turnover.  

On pass plays, if he blitzes, he doesn't get there.  He either gets picked up too easily or doesn't time it well and gets caught in no man's land.

If he covers, he does reasonably well at times, but usually, he just can't keep up with quick moves and drops far enough for the easy completion underneath.

Then, on the biggest play of the season, thus far, he appears to miss an assignment and leave a wide-open receiver in the MIDDLE of the field.  

You know, that spot with his name on it.