Tale of the Tape: Scouting Jason Tarver’s Defense

Oakland Raiders defensive 2011 stats:
Yds/G: 387.6(29th)      Rushing Yds/G: 136.1(27th)   Passing Yds/G: 251.4 (27th) 
T/Points: 433 (29th)    Interceptions: 18 (12th)          Sacks: 39 (15th)
F/Fumbles: 13 (30th)  Penalties: 120 (4th)                  Pen/Yds: 982 (4th)
(League Rank)

2011 Oakland Raiders stat leaders:
Tackles: Tyvon Branch(120)  Sacks: Tommy Kelly(7.5)  Interceptions:Matt Giordano(5)
F/Fumbles:Tommy Kelly(2)  Pass/def: Stanford Routt (19). 

 2011 Top Performers:                          2011 Worst Performers:
Richard Seymour                                      RCBs-Lito Sheppard and Chris Johnson
Tyvon Branch                                           Rolando McClain
Tommy Kelly                                            Michael Huff

The Oakland Raiders defense in 2011 was horrible – we all know it – and while we like to shift all the blame on Chuck Bresnahan, it was up to the players as well to get the job done.  With the new coaching staff brought in by head coach Dennis Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie, I think the Raiders defense will be heavily improved and one of the reasons I think it will be is the addition of defensive coordinator Jason Tarver.

    2012 Voluntary Veteran Mini-Camp Day 2
                          New Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver at Mini-camp.

 

Jason Tarver

Age: 37 

Education: Earned his Bachelors of Science degree in chemistry from in 1997 from Santa Clara University. He also earned his Master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from UCLA and received the departmental prize for distinguished teaching in 1998 and 2000. 

 

Experience: 2012 will be his first season as defensive coordinator for The Oakland Raiders. Tarver served as co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Stanford in 2011 after spending 10 seasons in various coaching capacities with the San Francisco 49ers. 

In 2011, his first season as the program’s co-defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach, Stanford was one of the top defensive units in the Pac-12 Conference and nationally, ranking in either first or second in the conference in six defensive categories, including rushing defense (1st; 84.4), third-down conversion defense (1st; 31.1), scoring defense (2nd; 21.9), total defense (2nd; 337.6), sacks-per-game (2nd; 3.00) and opponent first downs (2nd; 17.5).

 

Stanfords Defensive Rankings in 2011 Season:

Rushing yards per game: 84.4 (3rd) 

Passing yards per game: 253.2 (87th) 

Overall defense: 26th
(FBS Ranking)

 

Into the tape:
Dennis Allen stated that he would not be calling plays and that the coordinators would be taking care of that responsibility while he concentrates on being head coach but he and coach Tarver will game plan and scheme together each week, so the defense will be a mixture of both minds.

In order to understand both philosophies I watched film of some Broncos games (it was hard) and some Stanford games.  Tarver didn’t coordinate the Stanford defense by himself.  He shared the job with Derek Mason (now Stanfords DC).  Stanford blitzed a lot and reportedly many of the blitz designs came from Tarver.

From the film I’ve watched, the Raiders will be getting a lot of pressure on the QB as both Tarver and Allen love to blitz and have designed many different ways free guys to get to the QB.  One way they do this is with the multiple front defense (ie.4-3, 3-4, 2-5 etc.) the Raiders will be running.  You’ll see an array of exotic blitz packages confusing the offense, with the team having added many new OLB/DE type players in the draft and in free agency to help get to the QB.

This is more important than ever with the AFC West getting stronger each year – especially with the addition of Peyton Manning.  Getting to the QB is a must and that’s why I believe there was heavy emphasis on the front seven in the draft; there’ll be a lot of rotation on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps.

Also from the film I saw the both defenses play a lot of press man coverage.  There have been many reports that the Raiders are going to be zone focused now, but looking at the history of both men, II don’t think so.  When I look at the type of players the team has signed,  most are more suited to play press-man coverage. 

At an average height of 6’0” and most possessing good speed and solid builds (barring DVD he needs some bulk), our cornerbacks will be pressing receivers at the line of scrimmage to slow the timing of the receivers routes and give the pass rush more time. I do expect to see multiple coverages as well as fronts but the press will be the staple at the Raiders, still.

The safeties are going to be used all over the field in a variety of ways: in many blitz coverages, they’ll man up, sometimes they’ll sit in deep zone and will also be used to rush the QB. I see very good years from both Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff next season and will the new scheme should give the Raiders a lot more help deep then they did when Al was around.

Overall, I think the defense will be heavily improved over from last year based upon the team’s attempts to be more multiple.  One of the weaknesses of the Raiders in past years was their reliance on man coverage.  Other teams knew exactly how they would play and could game plan around the team. With the new coaching staff, the Raiders should become much more multiple and unpredictable.

Predictions for Raiders Defense in 2012:

Rush Yds/G: 103.2 (11th)             Pass Yds/G: 240.6 (16th)

Total Yds/G: 332.6(12th)               T/Points: 362 (17th)    

Sacks: 42 (6th)                                Interceptions: 21(9th)                                

Players that needs to step up:                       Breakout Players of the year:
Rolando McClain                                                 Matt Shaughnessy
Michael Huff                                                        Lamarr Houston

 

Positions of concern: Nose Tackle, Speed Rusher (4-3) and slot cornerback

For more of Tyler’s thoughts on the Raiders, follow him on Twitter @RaiderDraftnik

About Asher Mathews

Head writer for TFDS Sports, covering the Oakland Raiders and NFL at large. Proud Purdue alum. Follow me on Twitter!

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