Raiders still looking for a leader on defense

Allen on defensive QB: 'We're still looking for that guy'

Raiders still looking for a leader on defense
December 19, 2012, 3:30 pm
Share This Post

ALAMEDA -- The Raiders have missed a lot of things on defense this season, no doubt.

But perhaps the biggest missing component has been a leader at middle linebacker.

"I think that's big," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Wednesday. "You have your quarterback on offense, you need your quarterback on defense. And because there's a lot of communication that goes on defensively, and most places that you're at, the middle linebacker is kind of the guy that does that for you."

Unless you're in Oakland, right? Because even before Rolando McClain's two-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team and being made inactive before the Raiders' 15-0 defeat of Kansas City on Sunday, he was stripped of many responsibilities.

It's not like you can plug just anyone in the role on the field, either, though relatively-recent signee Omar Gaither has assumed the starting MLB gig of late.

"If you're not a guy that's vocal in the first place or you've never really been a leader, then, yeah, it's probably not going to work to your benefit, at least early on," Gaither said. "But if you've been doing those things your whole life and you did it in college, it's just natural for you. All you have to do is learn the language."

Said Allen: "Omar's kind of taken that role a little bit, with Rolando not playing. And then obviously, I think, Matt Giordano does a nice job back there for us, and so does Tyvon Branch. But I don't know that we have that guy that just steps up and says, 'I'm the guy, and I'm going to make all the adjustments for you.'

"And we're still looking for that."

Strong side linebacker Philip Wheeler continues to wear the green dot on his helmet, signifying who has the communication device on defense.

"And he does a nice job in the nickel situations, obviously," Allen said. "But I think we're still kind of looking for the guy that just handles it all for us."