The Oakland Raiders 2009 linebacker corp took the blame for the impressive ineptitude of the the 2009 Raiders defense. So, in 2010 the Raiders had an entirely new linebacking corp. The Raiders' rush defense made strides, but that is largely attributed to the dominant play of the Übermensch defensive line.
I don't expect this to be a revelation to anyone. And the reason I bring it up is because our good friends at Pro Football Focus have done a study on linebacker tackling.
They rated the LBs by measuring their tackles to missed tackle ratio. 3-4 outside linebackers were given their own group, but all other linebackers were grouped together.
They posted the top and bottom 20. Should we start with the good, the bad or the neutral? I'm going neutral. That'd be Mr. McClain. He did not qqualify for the list. Mr. Quentin Groves did though. Jump over and see for yourselves....
Groves had the seventh worst tackling percentage of all LBs. Groves missed five tackles and only made 32. That is not good. Not nearly as good as Kamerion Wimbley.
Kamerion Wimbley had the 20th best tackling percentage. Wimbley made 39 tackles while playing linebacker and missed only three. This is rock solid, and not all that surprising. Wimbley's weakness as a linebacker is getting in the right place at the right time in run coverage, and given his inexperience as an OLB in a 4-3 that is not all that surprising.
Groves is equally inexperinced as an OLB in a 4-3, but there is not a lot in his play to inspire hope. He is not a sure tackler and he lacks instincts. I like Groves. I am glad he is a Raider, but I like him as a backup and a special teams player, which is what he will be if Travis Goethel can stay healthy.
All in all, it is not the missed tackles that point to the woes of the Raiders' rush defense. It is the tackle numbers. The Raiders linebackers aren't making enough plays in the run game. If this rush defense is going to improve than the linebackers tackling numbers need to go up and the safeties need to go down...and most importantly, the Raiders need to eliminate the tackles of opposing running backs made by the endzone.
Oh, and the No. 2 linebacker in tackling efficiency? That'd be Kirk Morrison. He missed one tackle and made 69.
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