Thursday, July 31, 2008

Derrick Burgess Stands Up

The Oakland Raiders have been working on several different scenarios in Training Camp but one thing remains the same; no one can handle Derrick Burgess.

He has been wearing out whoever has been placed in front of him. He has appeared unblockable.

The Raiders offensive tackle positions are still a work in progress and based on Offensive Line Coach Tom Cable’s resume they’ll be ready to go on the eighth of September.

Teams have to game plan against Derrick Burgess due to the fact that he is that good.

He had for him an off season last year and he dealt with the setback of an injury that slowed him. He still finished the season with 40 tackles and tied for the team lead with eight sacks.

Despite a rare off season spending spree bringing in new talent, he didn’t receive the new contract he was after and the hope is he will after the season is over. Burgess came into camp ready for work.

As usual, the defense as a whole is ahead of the offense in training camp and Burgess is healthy and back to being his usual destructive self. The 6’2” 260 lb. DE remains a fast, aggressive pass rushing force and a player to watch for the Oakland Raiders.

To limit the damage of Derrick Burgess teams have used tight ends to double team him with offensive tackles. He has also experienced teams using both tight ends and running backs to chip him to slow him down.

To adjust to this tactic the Raiders have Burgess pulling double duty working at his customary DE position as well as OLB. Moving him around will limit obstacles between him and the opposing QB.

He will draw the attention of every offensive tackle in the league and set up some one-on-one situations for one of his teammates.

This is something new for him with the Raiders because he will in a sense be turned loose to create more damage.

He has all of the traits you look for in an OLB; Instincts, Athleticism and Range. The most important being athleticism, with the ability to tackle in the open field, blitz, rush the passer and drop into coverage.

An OLB operates in space and needs to have great range and speed to flow to the ball and chase down backs from sideline to sideline. In a 3-4 an OLB can be used to get upfield and bring pressure.

I’m aware that the Raiders run a base 4-3 defense, but it must be said, that so many different things can be done with the versatility of the 3-4 defense and it is one that Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan knows well.

I mentioned a few months ago that the Raiders should blitz more and re-visit installing a 3-4 look on defense as a change of pace and not as the base defense and several people expressed their displeasure with the idea for several reasons.

There were several people made some valid points, others pulled the "that's not what the Raiders do card" dismissing any possibility of a change and dismissing it if it does happen which surprised me.

One of the reasons mentioned was that some felt that Derrick Burgess couldn’t play outside linebacker.

The people making these comments were people who had no idea that in high school Derrick Burgess was an All-State selection at Outside Linebacker.

In his senior season he collected 102 tackles, four sacks, an interception and he recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown.

He earned team MVP and defensive player of the year honors that season. This information won’t surprise any Raider fan seeing as he was one of the best free agent additions in team history.

He made it to his first Pro Bowl and set a team record with 16 sacks in his first season with the team.

The optimum size for a DE is 6’5” 280 lbs., while the minimum size is 6’2” 255 lbs. He doesn’t have the size to play DE in the 3-4 alignment which is one of the reasons he is working at OLB.

He is undersized for a DE, although he can in a 4-3, but he has rare first-step explosion, he also has above average long speed.

He has natural pass rush moves as well as the ability to go to counter moves when a tackle gets his hands on him.

I'm requesting every member of the Raider Nation to weigh in on the topic. I pose the question "how do you feel about Derrick Burgess pulling "Double-Duty in training camp?"

I love the idea of giving a veteran player something new to work on to improve his game. The idea of Derrick Burgess being let loose to be more of force and the defense being more versatile is a good thing.

The Oakland Raiders are moving in the right direction and their defense has something to prove in 2008 and Derrick Burgess is leading the way.

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