Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Raiders Sign A Beast

The Raiders signed today 9 year vet Strong Safety Donovin Darius to a 3 year/$7.1M contract. Double D has been injury plagued the last 2 season but if healthy, he should provide solid run support and veteran leadership. DD's tackling prowess & physical nature is his true calling card.

It will be very interesting to see how Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan incorporates DD into the defensive backfield. Last year's safety starters, FS Stuart Schweigert & SS Michael Huff, played solid, consistent football but the knock on both was their inability to be "playmakers". Neither player tallied a sack, interception, or created a fumble. Many in the Raider Nation view Schweigert as a poor tackler and Huff as more of a true Free Safety. Before training camp has started and with DD's recovery from a calf injury uncertain, speculation is running rampant that Schweigert will be the odd man out. Safeties such as veteran Jerrod Cooper, Rookie Eric Frampton and 2nd year man Darnell Bing will need to scrape and claw to make the final 53 man roster in a special teams capacity.

One defensive scheme and personnel package that I anticipate being used frequently in obvious passing downs is the "Big Nickel" or "Wolverine" D. In this package, Rob Ryan will use 3 safeties and 2 cornerbacks. DD would be in the box while Huff & Schweigert would bracket one half of the field in coverage. Having a deep, talented group of players in the defensive backfield will create a fierce competition plus allow Rob Ryan to become the mad scientist ... mixing and matching his defensive personnel packages to negate an opponent's strengths and tendencies. For example, when the Raiders square off against teams with talented Tight Ends (ie. San Diego's Antonio Gates & KC's Tony Gonzalez), Ryan will be able employ Huff vs. the Tight End in coverage. Against teams with strong run tendencies, DD is a very nice piece to have supporting the front 7. As the 8th man in the box, DD will do what he does best ... hit like a ton of bricks.

6 pack of questions to ponder ...

(1) Will DD's health be an issue?
(2) If healthy, will DD earn the starting SS position with Huff sliding over to FS?
(3) Will DD provide a sorely lacking intimidating presence to the Raiders D?
(4) Will Rob Ryan cut DD loose on safety blitzes to create more sacks & turnovers?
(5) If demoted to a part time player, how will Schweigert respond?
(6) Will Cooper be cut? Will Bing or Frampton be designated to the practice squad?

"Raise the Black Flag, load the cannons, and welcome the new Raider marauder, Donovin Darius!"


Blogger PantyRaider said...

We could add to the "BigNickel" with the "SilverDime" and posible "Lucky-7" (Lucky for INT's) because we now have the personel depth to run several differant formations....

With Bing being "OverSized" at "S" and small at "OLB" but able to play both positions he could be used in the "Lucky-7" along with "DD" in the box....NOT the "Prevent" style when a team has the lead late in the game but a full backfield where we play "Bump-n-Run" on the corners with "S"s deep and "S"s in the box playing run support and "Blitz" packages and covering "TE"s.....I would call it the "NO-PassingZone".....4"S"s -n- 3"CB"s...."ML"-n- 3"DL"....

With the tallent we now have there are several posibilities and that makes it worthwhile to keep several "DB"s on the "53" man roster....We don't have depth at "LB" but we do at "DB"....


8:57 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

If DD is completely healthy, this is how I see our Safety Depth Tree working out:

DD > Strong Safety; used on obvious running downs + in Big Nickel + on the field when opposing team does not have a top tier TE

Huff Daddy aka "The Swiss Brand Army Knife" > On the field in all the personnel packages; his versatility will be used as a FS, SS, and "Rover".

STUUUUU > Part time safety; Big Nickel and other packages depending on how DD & Huff are being utilized; Full time Special Teams Ace

Ba Da Bing > Special Teams gunner; groomed for 2008 and beyond by DD. Ocassional D snaps to get his feet wet.

Frampton Comes Alive >>> practice squad designation or FT Special Teams

Coop >>> Cut or Special Teams

Bottom Line: There will be healthy, fierce competition for roster spots, playing time, and staring roles... a trifecta recipe for Win, Win, Win.

Last But Not Least: I eagerly anticipate DD's 1st vicisous hit where he lights up a WR going across the middle.


10:24 PM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

i think dd plays right into our system. he doesn't have to play every down and risk injury. i think he will be able to teach stu, huff, and bing how to tackle and become that play maker.
the scary thing is bing knows how to hit already, and so does huff. what dd is going to bring to the table is showing all 3 (stu, huff, and bing) how to put themselves in the best possible position to make a huge play while putting someone on their backs.
so even if he isn't completely healthy later in the season, i think we will see stu and company become better players.
again the philosophy is kiffin is looking for players who are versatile, and dd is a versatile safety. i love this move.

4:42 AM  
Anonymous LK said...

great takes--I posted a couple weeks back I was unsure of the value, but I'm seeing it different now.....Darius will jack a bitch up across the middle--can't wait to see it--and Ryan now has all kinds of depth to game plan against any style of offense [Indy, SD, Pgh, NE] plus we just got a huge boost in run support. Sappopotamus [slim version], Captain Kirk and DD up the middle? Scary.

5:30 AM  
Anonymous scorpio said...

darius CAN hit but he's a one-dimensional player (run support only?) and has a history of injury. i would hate to see bing or any of the other young players with potential off this team for any reason. this is the dark side of signing an older vet.

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Raider Nate 75 said...

i disagree scorpio. 614 tackles, 14 interceptions, eight forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries and two sacks doesn't look like a one dimensional player to me. he's not a one dimensional player, he forces fumbles, breaks up deep middle passes to the TE/Slot WR. I think you have darius confused with schweigert.
I think this signing is comparable to signing rod woodson; but darius is younger, and would have finished the season last year had he not broken his leg.
i think this helps the younger players, and the likes of cooper, whitted, starks, and eugene.

11:12 AM  
Blogger PantyRaider said...


He may appear "OneDementional" at this time in his game but the last time he was healthy in "04" he had 5 "Int"s...I think that put in the right position he will produce that way again....He will come in with a very good supporting cast and may draw attention because "QB"s through away from the "CB"s and Huff....so this gives him opertunities to make "LightsOut" hits and "Int"s....We needed an "IntinidatingForce" in our "D" BackField and now we have it....


11:44 AM  
Blogger BlandaRocked said...

Cool, Calico. I see some heavy duty defensive disguises in the Raiders' futurel. It's not like the Raiders have addes a SS or a FS. It's like they've added a DB, who can actually move around to just about anywhere. The same is true for Huff. Schweigert plays FS, but he's likely a better SS.

I think we'll retain all three. I also think we can put personnel on the field where opponents don't know if we're looking pass or run.

12:27 PM  
Blogger CutThroat said...


What type of "Blitz" Packages could we be lookin at with this group....disguised "Blitz"s where the "O" doesn't know who is comming or from where....Similar to what "Pitt"s did under Cohwer....That would get me "PumpedUp"....I love the "Blitz" and with a "HardHittenHeadHunter" comin at ya....."LookOut" "QB"s.....

Old "Buddy" Ryan use to do alot of that too so his son knows how....


1:44 PM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

Darius looks to be a Rod Woodson/ Ronnie Lott / Eric Turner type signing.

If we can get 2-3 years of solid leadership and Pro Bowl caliber play out of Donovin, all will be well with the universe.

Now, forget the six pack of ?s... What real fans wanna know is:

Does this mean we are FINALLY done with Radio Gibson and his special ed brand of football forever?

1:54 PM  
Blogger Calico Jack said...

Stick'em: To your relief, Radio Gibson is no longer in the picture. The Raiders cut ties with him. Next on the horizon (hopefully) to be on the chopping block will be Brayton (a DE with zero pass rush moves) and Whitted (a poor man's version of James Jett on a bad day).

7:10 PM  
Blogger Stick'em said...

Don't be so sure... last year Radio was cut with a big check due and we celebrated... and then he returned from the dead with the vet minimum... just like Jason on Fri the 13th.

The good news is Justin Griffith is listed as wearing #36 so Radio would have to find a different jersey # to disgrace in '07.

1:41 PM  

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