February 08, 2017

Though the issue abated as the 2016 season wore on, the Raiders struggled when offenses isolated their linebackers in coverage. Much of the time a simple lack of zone awareness was to blame. The fluid but inconsistent Malcolm Smith, Oakland's best coverage 'backer, was too often exposed. Even more so were youngsters Cory James and Ben Heeney (who is also coming off a right ankle injury that put him on IR in early October). Longtime Redskin Perry Riley helped after arriving midseason, but he's a plug-in guy. Considering the undisciplined play against the run, and given that the Raiders' D-line is already strong—if not stacked—a three-down clean-up linebacker would do wonders.

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