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.

Van Jones is a good man who should fight back

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Van Jones talks about "The Green Collar Economy"

I just saw an email from The Washington Post explaining that Van Jones resigned from his post as the Green Jobs Czar in the Obama Administration. Sad news as I know Van and have known him as nothing but a good man committed to the betterment of society.

One of the staples of Van's life has been the pursuit of social justice. He's always worked to better the lives of those less fortunate and the creation of the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center is a great example of what he's tried to do to improve life for Oaklanders, especially those who are poor and black.

Van Jones stepped down from a post that was the logical end result of his tremendous growth as a person: a job in the White House. Moreover, those attacking his character themselves are people with questionable backgrounds or anti-social actors. I will not go into that here; but Van should fight back.

Glen Beck is the person Jones should fight back against. Beck's acting like a domestic thug, calling the President racist, then using the media to be the inspiration for others to make terrible statements and threatening acts, like the woman who camped out at a National Guard base, thinking it was a FEMA encampment.

But Beck's not the only one who's unfairly attacked Van Jones. There's a long list of conservatives. To be fair, they did go and get video of things Jones did say, but then posted part of the videos so the comments lack the proper context and have him sounding like a radical totally against America. (By contrast, I have an unknown cyberharasser that makes up lies about my life online. If I learn who this person is, they will be arrested and prosecuted as they're breaking Federal law.)

I'm proud to be an American, but I'm not proud of the modern-day McCarthyite's run amok online. It's as if we're allowing them to get away with murder.

A Landmark graduate

Some of my friends who also know Van point to his enrollment in The Landmark Forum as a key reason for his amazing personal growth. The idea of Landmark, which I've not "done" but seem surrounded by people who have been in it, is to provide a person with mental tools that cause them to overcome their cognitive road blocks and achieve their desired objectives.

Can one say Van became a different person? No. I think it's more accurate to say he became a better version of himself. I met him after his time in the program; the Van Jones I know has never even come off as anti-American and always as one who cares about people.

Good people like Jones must vigorously fight back against their attackers. To me, it's as if he was mugged in broad daylight.