How Do Oakland Raiders Cornerbacks Matchup Versus AFC Wests Receivers?
Jerry Rump – Jun 29, 2012
As July 29th approaches and the Oakland Raiders prepare to enter training camp, there are a lot of questions on the minds of Raider fans about how the defense will look this year. Much has changed on defense since last season and that friends, is a good thing.
Under first year defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, the entire way of how the Raiders will approach playing defense is about to go where it has never gone before. That being a zone coverage scheme that allows the Raiders to compete in the now pass-happy NFL.
One spot on defense in particular has a lot of Raider Nation wondering and guessing about how they will perform. This position has long been coveted and dominated by some of the greats to ever play the game and was a spot of extreme pride and importance when the late Al Davis ran the club.
It is also the one position on defense that neither starter from a year ago will be returning.
It’s the cornerback position we’re talking about here and to say things have changed at this position is a bit of an understatement Governor, to say the least. Gone are last season’s overpaid and under-performing starters, Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson.
It was literally a nightmare to watch these two try to stop anybody last year as they completely crumbled down the stretch and left the team once again, out of a playoff spot.
Yes, the whole defense played horribly last season, but the cornerback play was simply atrocious!
So, we bid you both “Adieu” and don’t let the door hit you on your way out! I said: ”Good-day, gentlemen!”
Gone as well, is the line up and play man to man scheme that the Raiders have long prided themselves on playing. Putting the corners on an island and expecting them to win every time is no longer a feasible way to play defense in the NFL.
Quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers had to be licking their chops like salivating coyotes coming upon an already dead deer carcass, when it came to facing this out-dated defensive scheme.
Be real now Raider Nation, as no-one loved this type of match-up more than me, but the league has transitioned and left this archaic form of pass defense long in the dust.
With all this happening, many of you are probably ready to just move on and look for a placating article that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy about the up-coming season right about now.
While it is a serious challenge forthcoming for the New Era, it is not all gloom and doom, so let me point out the one major bright spot in all of this change.
Let’s now take a minute to rejoice that the fool who coached the defense into a disappointing 29th place last season has been shown the door! May Chuck Bresnahan never don the Silver and Black again! Amen!
Last season, I cannot begin to tell you how many times I yelled: “Why is this idiot still coaching?” His game-planning skills were so ridiculous that an investigation should have been initiated to see if he was betting against the Raiders!
Games against the likes of Green Bay and Miami down the stretch prove my point as the defense did not even show up for either game. Not to mention, the horrible performance against Detroit and that season-ending debacle versus the San Diego Chargers. Payback is on the way September 10th, Bolt fans!
The very fact that this clown is gone is reason enough for Raider Nation to rejoice. But that still leaves a gaping hole in the defense at cornerback that warrants an area of concern for many in the world-wide Nation of Raider fans.
That is why a look at how the Raiders will line up and defend the opposing receivers from the AFC West is indeed an article that many should pay attention to and exactly why this is just such an article.
As previously stated, the starters from a season ago are long-gone and in their stead are CB’s Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell.
Yep, the Raiders went out and got two guys who were injured last season and are putting all their hopes of slowing down what is sure to be a pass-dominated division, on their shoulders.
All is not lost though as their backups are the only cornerbacks returning to the squad in the form of second-year players, Chimdi Chekwa, and Demarcus Van Dyke.
Both of these guys were injured at times last season, but when they did play, they both showed the potential that Al Davis saw in them when he went out and drafted them in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Do not get it twisted, Spencer and Bartell are both good cornerbacks, but with them both coming back from injuries, there is a lot of added pressure and expectation for Chekwa and Van Dyke to step up and perform.
Now looking at our divisional foes, it is going to be crucial that all of the cornerbacks learn the new scheme and perform better than expected, if the Raiders wish to improve upon their back to back 8-8 seasons and win the AFC West division.
Starting with the Kansas City Chiefs, whom once they resign WR, Dwayne Bowe, will have a formidable receiving corps for the Raiders to have to step-up and defend.
Second–year wide receiver, Jonathan Baldwin, will be looking for a breakout season as injury hampered his progress and Steve Breaston will prove to be a reliable number three receiver for QB, Matt Cassell to look to if his primary receivers are covered.
These games versus KC will show Raider Nation what type of character our new cornerbacks possess, as they are sure to be tested by this group.
The Chiefs pose a serious threat and cannot be taken lightly as they have both a quality running game and a competitive passing threat to deal with, no other team in the division besides the Raiders can say this. Not to mention we owe them for last season!
Next up, is the one team everybody, outside of Raider Nation, is band-wagoning to win, not only the division, but the whole dang show. Yes, it’s the Denver Broncos with their new shiny, slightly used and abused, QB Peyton Manning that we are talking about.
In typical Bronco fashion, the mile-high air has affected their oxygen deprived brains and they forgot to add some reliable players to surround their franchise’s shiny new/used toy with. Typical John Elway with his “the quarterback is everything” mentality.
Demaryius Thomas is predicted to be the number one receiver for Peyton this year and that bodes well for the Raiders. Thomas is injury-prone and maybe I’m wrong, but if this is the best they've got, then it’s going to be a long season for John Elway, not to mention Manning.
Look instead for Eric Decker to be Peyton’s go to guy as he is a good possession receiver and has better than average hands. He was sidelined by injury during the Bronco’s post-season last year and will look to rebound now that someone who can actually throw the ball occupies the position under center.
Also worth mentioning is the free agent pickup from Cincinnati, Andre Caldwell. Here is the all critical slot-receiver Manning loves and it is possible for Caldwell to flourish in this position with Denver. In upcoming games against the Raiders, Caldwell will be the guy to shut-down as this will lead to Peyton ending up on his back and/or turning the ball over.
Brandon Stokley, Matthew Willis, and rookie, Gerell Robinson, round out the receivers for Denver and out of the three, be wary of Robinson as he has the tools to develop in up-coming seasons, but will be limited this year to mainly a backup, utilized only in case of injury.
All in all, look for Manning and the Broncos’ to spread the ball around requiring the Raiders to adjust and make some plays to limit their possessions. As we all know the best way to beat Peyton is to keep him off the field and this hasn’t changed.
Now onto the San Diego Chargers, whom will be looking pretty raw at the wide receiver position since Vincent Jackson departed for Tampa Bay not to mention, Patrick Crayton and Bryan Walters are now playing elsewhere to boot.
To replace this production, the genius’ of the Chargers organization brought in New Orleans WR, Robert Meachem, and rival Denver player, Eddie Royal as well as Michael Spurlock and Roscoe Parrish.
This means Phillip Rivers has an all new receiving corps and there is the only one of them that has played more than nine games in a season, that being Royal.
This lack of consistent production and given the fact that this is their first season in Chargerland, means all those analysts that picked San Diego to win the division will quite possibly be eating crow by week 12 of the upcoming 2012 season. Enjoy your Thanksgiving boys!
Given all the factors that GM, Reggie McKenzie, had to fix in Oakland and the expectations of fans all over Raider Nation, is it any wonder he chose to completely reboot the cornerback positions for the team and start from scratch?
Look for the defensive backs to respond accordingly and fit nicely into the new scheme, which employs zone coverage and a focus upon a “whole team” mentality on defense. This will take the pressure off of having to play on “an island” and provide the cornerbacks with a chance to make more plays.
All of this points to being big, positive steps to reclaiming the top spot in the AFC West and a trip to the post-season for the Raiders for the first time since 2002. Is anybody else as tired of hearing this as I am?
One thing is for certain, with it being a new era and given a total reconstruction of the team’s prized position on defense, the phrase “commitment to excellence” is no longer just a reflection of what once was, but a dedication to carry on for our number one fan above.
Rest in peace Mr. Davis, and...Just Win Baby!
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