With Vontaze Burfict’s pending suspension leaving him unable to play, the Oakland Raiders face a major depth problem at the linebacker position. At the finalization of the 53-man roster, the Raiders had four total linebackers. Yes, before moving Nathan Peterman to injured reserve, the Raiders had as many quarterbacks on staff as they did linebackers.
Ideally, teams will use one quarterback the entire season while, depending on packages, a team could use a handful of linebackers in just one game. The roster decisions have left fans confused, but the decisions to not appear to be negatively influencing the team too significantly.
Against the Chicago Bears, the Raiders used a total of two linebackers during the entire game. Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow were the only two linebackers to take the field for the Raiders. Whitehead, who has been a major factor this season, played every snap on defense and tied Erik Harris for most tackles in the game. As usual, Whitehead left everything on the field and did everything he could to drive the Raiders to victory. Nicholas Morrow, on the other hand, played every snap but two on defense. Also, he snagged an interception from Chase Daniel that Daniels.
The linebacker play of the Raiders is not the issue here. In fact, the linebacker position has been one of Oakland’s shining points. The starters are playing well, but when a team only has two linebackers enter the game, it should be clear there are some depth issues. The Raiders have five linebackers listed on their depth chart: Whitehead, Morrow, Justin Phillips, Dakota Allen, and Kyle Wilber. The team lists one middle linebacker (Phillips), and he did not even see the field last week. In fact, Wilber is the only other active linebacker to play a snap for the Raiders this season.
It is incredibly beneficial that the Raiders head into their bye week. Yes, the Raiders are 3-2 and have their first winning record since 2016. Yes, Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow have been great. But there is no way the Raiders can play 16 competitive games with just two linebackers. Having two weeks until their next game gives the Raiders time to catch the new linebackers up to speed. It must be reiterated that linebacker play has been great so far. Taking minutes away from the starters is never ideal, but taking precaution for potential overuse injuries is necessary.