By all accounts, Brentson Buckner is a welcome breath of fresh air in Alameda. The former defensive tackle is leading the defensive line for the Oakland Raiders and the players love having a coach who was knee deep in trench warfare at the helm.
“I like coach Buck,” defensive tackle Justin Ellis told Raider.com of his new coach. “He’s played the game, so I’m excited to see all the stuff he’s going to teach us.”
Unlike previous Raiders defensive line boss, Mike Trgovac (now a senior defensive assistant), Buckner is a 4-3 disciple. Trgovac is a 3-4 man by nature and his specialty was getting linemen to win 1-on-1 situations. Whether it was a lack of talent or a misfit of coaching, the Raiders D-line didn’t win many 1:1s.
Buckner appears to be the better fit, schematically, and he should meld well with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. However, Ellis did bring up a notion regarding Buckner.
“He wants us moving, that’s one thing he’s talking about,” Ellis said of Buckner. “He wants us moving. Every D-line coach has good technique, even [Coach Mike Trgovac] last year, but like I said he just wants us active. Be active, don’t be labeled to one position, like nose guard. We going to play defensive tackle, we going to play three technique, slide to the four. Whatever it is we going to be able to do it.”
Movement and variety on the Raiders defensive line is a sound concept and would be a welcome sight for a team that finished dead last with a paltry 12 sacks last season. But here’s the dilemma: Historically, Guenther prefers to have a traditional nose tackle playing alongside a three tech. Ellis was the nose, before he got hurt, then free agent Jonathan Hankins took that mantle. Guenther’s scheme doesn’t call for diversity at the two defensive tackle spots.
Now, whether that’s due to lack of depth and talent at the position, there was little movement and variety at the two interior sports. Guenther is quite flexible at defensive end when he has the right tools in the toolbox, which is understood.
With a trio of first round picks and the 35th overall selection in the second round, Oakland has a great opportunity to fortify a meek defensive line – especially at the end positions.
However, whether or not Buckner’s intended versatility on the interior happens will remain to be seen. Either way, we’re going to see if desire is going to meet reality when it comes to the Raiders D-line in 2019.