I'm sure you all remember the old expression, "If you can't beat them, join them." In the Oakland Raiders case, it needs to be, "If you can't beat them, you need to bring them back."
After the beating they took from the Green Bay Packers, the Raiders should take a good look at their blueprint. They'd see a big-play offense and physical, turnover-forcing defense that harasses quarterbacks.
Add stopping the run and you have the original blueprint the old Raiders were built on. It's no accident to me that some of the builders on the Packers coaching staff and front office are members of the Raiders family.
Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli is trying to establish the Patriot way he had in New England last decade. John Elway is in Denver bringing back the Mile High magic he had as a player through Tim Tebow.
As long as Philip Rivers, the modern-day Dan Fouts, is in San Diego with the Chargers, their brand remains the same. With this in the division, the Raiders need to take back their blueprint from the Packers.
The quick-strike offense is already there when healthy, but the 3-4 defensive scheme is where they should start. If you look at the Raiders defensive personnel, you can see that the 3-4 could make their defense dominant.
It would also bring more of the Raiders family back home.
Turn the page to see how they might and should try to make this work.
We'll see later how Jackson has done as the Raiders GM this year since the passing of Davis. Either way, I don't think that will work long-term, as Jackson's coaching has slipped a bit since he started down that road.
Therefore, Jackson should be able to just focus on coaching and allow someone to do his shopping for him. Reggie McKenzie, the Packers director of personnel, is as perfect a candidate as there is.
McKenzie worked directly under Ron Wolf, a form Davis scout that was the Packers' GM from 1991 to 2001. This is significant because Wolf was the architect of the reconstruction of Title Town in the 1990s.
Wolf said of McKenzie, "Reggie is a tremendous evaluator. He can tell you who can play and who can't play." http://www.jsonline.com/sports/packers/raiders-interested-in-packers-mckenzie-pq30qph-133726773.html?
He happens to be among those that has recommended the former Raiders linebacker to Al's son Mark Davis. According to ESPN.com, Davis is still very interested in hiring McKenzie this offseason. http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post/_/id/35774/afc-west-mailbag-260
Who better than a former Raider?
Who better than a guy that just helped put together the personnel for a championship 3-4 defense?
A former 3-4 inside linebacker at that!
This will help the Raiders go into the future running the 3-4.
Green Bay Packers linebackers coach Winston Moss is another part of the Packers championship 3-4 defense. Having played for the Raiders from 1991 to 1995, he is also family that should be brought back home.
Remember, when Chuck Bresnahan was hired back this past offseason, it wasn't as a defensive coordinator right away. It was only after head coach Hue Jackson was unable to bring Moss in that Bresnahan got that job.
Jackson has brilliantly spoken of his desire to stay in the Raiders family when hiring assistants. Moss is the perfect guy because he is a former Raider and also a disciple of Dom Capers.
Capers is a disciple of Dick Labeau so the Raiders would have an innovative 3-4 at its finest. Current Raiders defensive backs coach Rod Woodson played under Labeau in Pittsburgh, so he would know exactly what coverages to mix in with Moss's schemes up front.
Look what he's done with Clay Matthews Jr.
The Raiders would then have a defense that rivals that of Pittsburgh, Green Bay and New York (Jets).
At 6'3", 265 pounds, outside linebacker Quentin Groves is extremely talented and would do well as an inside linebacker. When the Raiders ran their 4-3 over, Groves showed the ability to shoot and fill gaps nicely, blowing up running plays for little to no gain.
For those that aren't familiar with 4-3 over, the strong-side linebacker lines up over the tight end, the weak-side defensive end lines up wider, and the other two linebackers line up pretty much as if they are inside backers.
I have watched Groves do well in that alignment and only found one real flaw with him in pass coverage these days. That's an improvement from last year for the converted defensive end and I expect his pass coverage to improve as well, especially with Moss as the defensive coordinator.
The guy runs a 4.4 40-yard dash and beat speedy fullback Marcel Reece in a race after practice. So he actually has it in him to be an outstanding cover linebacker, but needs only to learn, as this is only his second year playing linebacker.
If it works with Groves, it would give the Raiders a crazy-fast, outstanding linebacker corps now. If it doesn't work with Groves, thumper Travis Goethel was an inside linebacker in college and he will be back next year.
I think it would be better than what the Raiders are doing now.
The next slide may have an even better idea in it.
Raider Nation has ranted and raved about how Vontaze Burfict is meant to be a Raider. They speak of how mean, instinctive and physical he is but I dismissed it because he was originally projected to be a first-round pick.
After hearing talk of him slipping, I still didn't think it would be enough for the Raiders, who have only a fifth and sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft. But according to ESPN. com's Bill Williamson, the Raiders should get three compensatory picks for losing Nnamdi Asomugha, Robert Gallery and Zach Miller. http://espn.go.com/blog/afcwest/post/_/id/34045/a-look-at-raiders-2012-draft
The Raiders should get three, but they will at least get one third-round pick for Asomugha. We will see just how generous NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is feeling toward the Raiders when that time rolls around.
After a bad senior year with personal foul penalties (Raider trait) and punching a teammate, GMs around the league threw up red flags. Matt Shaughnessy would be misplaced in a 3-4, so a deal involving him going to a 4-3 team to move up into the second round may be possible.
However it could happen, Moss could get him to turn his aggression into a great inside linebacker.
Or could Burfict slide far enough for the Raiders to grab him with a compensatory pick?
From what I've seen of "Big" John Henderson, it looks like he has another of year left in him. Centers will not be able to move the 6'7", 340-pounder, and he will require at least a double team.
Even then, the middle of the line of scrimmage will go backwards just like it does in Pittsburgh with nose tackle Casey Hampton. Henderson's huge size alone makes him a quintessential three-gap defensive lineman.
Henderson obviously isn't a long-term player at this point so his replacement will have to be drafted soon. The Raiders need to steal nose tackle Kellen Heard back from the Buffalo Bills if they can.
The draft is always a good option too, and his replacement may be on the team already.
Tommy Kelly snuck into the NFL as an undrafted free agent as a 3-4 defensive end for the Raiders. Whether it be the 3-4 or 4-3, he is a penetrator but I think he is most effective as a two-gap defensive end.
Come to think of it, Rob Ryan was the Raiders defensive coordinator with his 3-4, and he changed it to fit Warren Sapp, who gave the Raiders nothing anyway. Lamarr Houston also seems like a good fit for 3-4 defensive end, but not over Kelly.
Houston would have to wait his turn as Kelly moves to the nose as he slows down. The Raiders could even use Kelly at nose tackle as soon as next year, as a quick, penetrating-type nose tackle a la Reggie Kinlaw.
Kinlaw had seasons with 11.5 and 12.5 sacks from the position.
That would make room for Houston to start at end, or Houston would be in the rotation and play the nickel-rush end on third down.
Aaron Curry has done a good job at outside linebacker for the Raiders since coming over and playing right away in Week 6 vs. the Cleveland Browns. He sets the edge well against the run and he really hasn't been that bad in pass coverage.
However, Curry would do much better if he had more opportunities to blitz and put heat on the quarterback. The 3-4 would give Curry more of such opportunities, as he could use his tremendous speed off the edge.
The Raiders gotta let Curry do what he does best.
Richard "The Great One" Seymour doesn't look like he's lost a single solitary step when healthy at age 32. He was a perennial Pro Bowler as a 3-4 defensive end and he's starting to look that way as a defensive tackle.
A move back to 3-4 defensive end would enhance his legend as one of the most dominant defensive linemen of his generation. Seymour even made an impact on a horrible Raiders team in his first year as a 4-3 end.
Putting all this experience together and going back to a 3-4 would allow him to be the second coming of Howie Long. What I mean by that is he could move all over the defensive line so all five opposing offensive lineman would have to prepare for him.
He could line up on the nose on occasion and line up at tackle when the Raiders go to their nickel defense. But for the most part, he will get to do what he has done best over his career—be a 3-4 end.
Outside linebacker Kamerion Wimbley has done a good job as an all-around linebacker since coming to Oakland. But the big contract that he got wasn't to just be a good all-around outside linebacker.
That contract was all about sacking the quarterback, as he had nine quarterback sacks last year. He puts his hand in the ground as an end in third-down-and long situations, but doesn't do a heck of a whole lot of blitzing.
Playing in a 3-4 would allow Wimbley to do what he does best—rush the passer more, like Demarcus Ware and LaMarr Woodley. Wimbley is tied for No. 17 in the NFL in sacks with seven, and Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller is the only 4-3 outside linebacker that's ahead of him.
The rest are either defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers, and Miller gets to blitz an awful lot for a 4-3 guy. Giving Wimbley more opportunities to rush the passer would have him in the top three.
That would especially be the case if the opposing offense isn't sure when he's coming.
Many are disappointed with the play of 2010 No. 8 overall pick Rolando McClain and I can't argue that. He was a can't-miss prospect that ran a pro-style defense at the University of Alabama.
The problem with McClain isn't physical, as he is among the most physical players in the league. The problem isn't mental, and it's not his work ethic as he has always been known as an eater, drinker and sleeper of football.
So what's the problem then?
The problem is that you can't get whisky out of a bottle of wine, and that's what the Raiders are trying to do here. McClain is clearly a downhill, physical, thumper linebacker—not a sideline-to-sideline guy like Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher.
McClain is more of a Matt Millen type and guess what—Millen won two Super Bowls with the Raiders in a 3-4. What the Raiders are doing to McClain is tantamount to trying to turn Darren McFadden into a zone-runner before Jackson came to Raider Nation.
Next year is year three for McClain, so I think Jackson should try to help him out in the same way he helped McFadden. What he brings as a blitzer up the middle with his timing would serve the Raiders welll in a 3-4 too.
Never mind the fact that two of the last three teams to win Super Bowls ran the 3-4. The Raiders themselves ran the 3-4 on all three of their Super Bowl-winning teams.
The 1976, 1980 and 1983 teams all ran it while the Super Bowl losing teams of 1967 and 2002 ran a 4-3. This may be a coincidence but the Raiders have always looked for the same types of players, and the 3-4 might be what suits them best.
Big, fast, physical and aggressive players have always been what Al Davis coveted on his defenses. If you look at the good 3-4 defenses around the league, they have the biggest, fastest, most physical and aggressive players.
Seems like a natural fit to me.
The Raiders don't get a lot production from the defensive end position until Wimbely lines up there. Shaughnessy was supposed to be the next best thing but his play was disappointing before he was injured.
The bottom line is Wimbley is the best pass-rusher on the team and he is getting paid handsomely to do so. Therefore, he should definitely be the guy coming from the quarterback's blind side.
Curry, who is also fast off the edge, would be the perfect complement to Wimbley on the other side. The two best edge rushers on the team don't play defensive end—they're outside linebackers.
That's 3-4 personnel right there.
Then you have all of the money invested in McClain, who's asked to perform outside of his skill-set. There is simply too much money and talent on the defensive front seven of the Raiders for this defense to be so bad.
With the improvement of the secondary, the switch to the 3-4 could really help the Raiders defense. They have some 3-packages now, so I think Jackson already has interest in running it in the future.
Bringing some of the Raiders family back home would help too.
Just win baby!