I read this blog entry from Bleacher Report and it was very similar to the ongoing discussion we've been having about Morrison and his role within the Raiders' linebacker corp.
Overrated, soft, bad tackler, bad run defender. These terms come to mind when looking at the Raiders fourth-year linebacker who anchors their defense. Is that the problem?
The defensive line hasn't really given him much help in terms of drawing up double teams and staying true to their gaps, but when they have given Morrison opportunities for him to make his name heard around the NFL, he fails.
Morrison being the leading tackler for the Raiders the past few years doesn't mean he's good, otherwise Stuart Schweigart would have been a Pro Bowler for the Raiders.
For four years now, the Raiders have patiently waited for Morrison to become a monster in the middle, which they expected going into the 2006 campaign after releasing Danny Clark.
The Raiders thought Morrison, being younger and a tad bigger, could give the defense that extra push. He didn't. Turns out Clark leaving didn't help the Raiders much, but hurt them.
Luckily for Morrison, he has some cover skills, so he has built somewhat of a reputation for himself, because he has intercepted a couple more balls than another middle linebacker might.
However, linebackers aren't supposed to be ball hawks, there supposed to hit you at the line of scrimmage, get into the backfield, disrupt things. Anything else is a bonus.
Only once this year did I see Morrison get into the backfield for a loss. It's not only that he is bad at filling his gap(s)/assignments, he's a poor tackler. When you are the starting middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense, you should be the best tackler on the field, period.
He frequently has missed tackles in crucial situations, along with getting blocked down at the goal line.
It doesn't help the Raiders that they don't have a nose tackle to help draw up double teams, because they have been using Gerard Warren and Terdel Sands in the nose spot, even though Warren is undersized and Sands is a backup player.
It's almost an excuse though, because Morrison has been with most of his front seven for a good two years, and he really hasn't made strides.
There has been talk that moving Morrison to strong side linebacker would be better for him, then getting a nasty middle linebacker to do the things Morrison never could do half to take his place.
Kind of makes you scratch your head though, because if a linebacker can't make plays or be some what disruptive at all, why would he do it in a different position?
Well, he started as an outside linebacker his first year, and that was his best season, besides his 2007 interceptions (four) that got his name out there.
In four NFL seasons, Kirk Morrison has three sacks, 498 total tackles and seven picks. If only they counted how many times Morrison was blocked out of a play or whiffed when going to make a tackle, someone in the Raiders organization would realize he's not been playing good.
His inability to shed blocks and make open-field tackles just makes him painful to watch sometimes. Morrison is an average, at best, middle linebacker.
In a recent interview, he said he rallies that defense, gets them playing hard, is in control...when really he isn't.
The Raiders ought to take a look at some free agents in Takeo Spikes (49ers), Mike Peterson (Jaguars), and possibly Bart Scott (Ravens) to come in and compete to take the anchoring position of the Oakland Raiders defense.
If the Raiders want a leader on defense, a player that plays aggressive, that plays well and gets the best out of the people around him, they'd be wise not to hand over the starting middle linebacker spot to Morrison.
He has not played well nor provided the spark they have needed for a while. However, it is the Al Davis defense, and if he can't realize that he needed to improve both offensive and defensive lines last year and the year before, when will he figure out Morrison is a liability?
The author recognizes that Morrison is not solely to blame for the Raiders' woes stopping the run, including that the defensive line can be porous at times. Still, I think the author is being harder on Morrison that any of us have been.
I don't think you can call Kirk Morrison a "liability", but it's safe to say that people are pondering whether Morrison is playing out of position. If I were a Raiders beat reporter and had an opportunity to interview John Marshall I would certainly ask him about the idea of moving Morrison to the SAM position. The Raiders may also telegraph their thoughts on the issue based on their moves in free agency or the draft.
So S&BP bloggers, is Kirk Morrison a liability?