To hear some self-styled experts talk, they have the only way to build a winning football team. However, there is no exact science as to the best way to build a football team or everyone would be doing it. Instead, there is a sense of follow the leader, and whatever it is that happens to be working for one team is copied to the point that other teams figure out how to beat it.
The fads come and go in the NFL. Anyone remember the Run N’ Shoot offense that worked so well for the Houston Oilers or its variation the K-Gun that led the Buffalo Bills to four straight Super Bowl defeats. For a long while, it was West Coast this and West Coast that. Bill Walsh had built his genius reputation in San Francisco with the Niners developing what would become the West Coast offense. The West Coast offense spread throughout the league and mutated into other variations.
The defensive side of the ball has its own fads. The Chicago Bears brought the house with the 46 defense. It was soon discovered that a quick release passing game could beat the 46, and it rapidly fell out of favor. The Tampa-2 defense was the perfect antidote for the west coast offense as the Tampa-2 kept the pressure on the short zones where the West Coast offense loves to throw the ball.
Historically, the Raiders have been a power running, deep threat type offense. They have varied from that at different times, most notably using a variation of the multiple motion West Coast offense under Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan. They have strayed from the power running since 2007, by using the zone blocking scheme for their running game.
The key point is that fads come and go on both sides of the ball, and it seems like an offense or defense can’t be stopped, but inevitbly the holes will be found in each. There is a tendency to want to jump on the latest bandwagon. It wasn’t long ago that the Raider Nation was clamoring for a Tampa-2 defense, but the spread option offenses that have started to come into vogue have found the weaknesses in that defense by spreading it out.
The fact is each team has to be built for the type of offense and defense they are looking to run, and it is not about having the catchy names or following the trend. The key factor comes down to executing the playbook. Its not the fact that the Raiders run a 4-3 instead of a 3-4 that led to so many missed tackles. It was a lack of tackling that led to missed tackles. It was JaMarcus Russell’s inaccuracy that doomed the Raiders defense. It will be interesting to see how this new defensive scheme that Cable is so giddy about will play out. It will also be interesting to see how Hue Jackson will change the offensive scheme.