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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Oakland Raiders now have Richard Seymour and Greg Elllis, but...

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UPDATE: Seymour may not report to the Raiders.

The trade shot heard 'round the football and the Internet world is that the New England Patriots long time defensive end Richard Seymour was traded to the Oakland Raiders.

While the transaction seems like a good deal for Oakland, hold on. There are two problems: the first one is that Seymour has not had an all pro season since 2006 and the Raiders defensive formation design is suspect.

Since 2001 Richard Seymour has been a force on New England's defense. But starting with a knee injury in 2007 and a back injury in 2008, he hasn't been the disruptive player he was known as three years ago. While he did have a career-high eight sacks last year, giving up a first round pick was too much for Seymour. Why Oakland did that is beyond me (it would make more sense for a Seymour three years younger) but he's here so we have to figure out a way to employ him to get best results. Let's look at the pluses of this trade:

Richard Seymour is not old

Richard Seymour while 29 years old, is not old at all. He still has perhaps five good years left in him. If the Raiders focus on enhancing his pass-run skills, then he will be a major addition to the squad. If the Raiders use him paired with Greg Ellis in a hybrid version of Buddy Ryan's "46 Defense" - where Ellis and Seymour would be aligned on the strongside of the formation - it would place considerable pressure on the offenses of the AFC West, especially the San Diego Chargers.

Richard Seymour is a tall defender

Seymour's 6 foot 6 inches tall so having him rush on the left side, when most quarterbacks are right handed, would block throwing lanes like no other player has been able to do. Greg Ellis, who the Raiders got from Dallas, is the same height as Seymour, so having them on the same side in a 46 Defense would spell matchup problems for any offense.

Richard Seymour brings the experience of a winner

Richard Seymour has four Super Bowl rings and is a product of a New England Patriots locker room culture that transformed Randy Moss from a player not really into the game in Oakland to a star player who takes over a game in Boston. Yes, I can understand if you question the Raiders culture, but this move signals a desire to bring in people who can lead the team and set the tone on the field and off of it.

Will Coach John Marshall creatively use Seymour?

My concern is less with Seymour than with Oakland Raiders Defensive Coordinator John Marshall. Will he design schemes that creatively employ Seymour and Ellis? Is Marshall capable of the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that's needed to counter what is a period of revolution in NFL offensive design?

The college game has altered NFL offenses like never before with the Utah Spread and the Wildcat Offense being paired with the passing philosophies popularized by the late 49ers Coach Bill Walsh to produce some of the best passing systems ever seen. It's no wonder why defensive designs like those used by the Baltimore Ravens are more in vogue, with overload defensive fronts and stand-up defensive end / zone blitz schemes.

Is John Marshall willing to be creative with the Raiders Defense? If so, he certainly has the tools to do so. Now, with the addition of Seymour, the Oakland Raiders Defense is a wild card; I don't know how well they will do this year and have to wait until the San Diego game to determine that. But I'm excited to see what's next from this unit.

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