Oakland Raiders: Former DE LaMarr Woodley Finally Hitting Something

Nov 1, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) carries the ball past Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (56) at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cardinals won 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell (34) carries the ball past Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (56) at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Cardinals won 34-20. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Oakland Raiders DE LaMarr Woodley is currently a free agent and sounding like a frustrated man, has begun lashing out at former coaches.

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A couple of seasons ago, the Oakland Raiders brought in former Pittsburgh linebacker LaMarr Woodley to help fortify their defense. He was coming off a season in which he notched five sacks and played fairly solid defense for the Steelers, so the signing made some degree of sense – also, he was a relatively inexpensive placeholder to have while GM Reggie McKenzie was busy laying the foundation for a defense that would change drastically the following year.

Having played in half a dozen games for the Raiders and having basically nothing to show for it, it seems to go without saying that the Woodley experience didn’t quite pay off too well. Actually, with just five tackles and zero sacks, the Woodley experience didn’t pay off at all.

And to hear Woodley tell it, his lack of production was purely because of then-Defensive Coordinator Jason Tarver.

"“In Oakland, we had a dumb defensive coordinator and in Arizona, we had a dumb defensive coordinator. It was just two dumb guys. They thought we were like Madden players. They’d draw something up and on paper it looked good, but the players still have to go out there and run it. Those guys didn’t really listen to their players. They wanted to do it their way and their way only.”"

While some might say that as the player, it’s his job to run the play the DC dials up. But his point isn’t without merit. The smart DC is the one who listens to his players and tailors the game plan around the talent he has on hand. But then, nobody really ever accused Jason Tarver of being smart – football smart, anyway – or of being a competent DC.

In fact, Tarver was part of a coaching staff that was quite possibly one of the worst the league has ever seen. Just ask Raider fans and they’ll tell you that the Dennis Allen-Jason Tarver-Greg Olson era was one of the darkest periods in Raiders history. And with just eleven wins over three seasons, it’s hard not to agree with the assessment.

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One of Woodley’s biggest problems with the way Tarver used him – and one of the reasons he cites for his lack of production – was that he was moved from the outstide linebacker spot he’d excelled in while with the Steelers to a defensive end with the Raiders.

Fair enough. Sort of.

After his release from Oakland, he signed with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015, and was moved back to his familiar outside linebacker spot. Guess what though? The results didn’t get much better. In ten games with the Cardinals – including seven starts – Woodley managed a whopping ten tackles and one whole sack.

Now granted, Woodley’s stats with the Cardinals were far superior to those he accumulated in Oakland, but that’s a pretty low bar to clear. And as Woodley sits and waits for his phone to ring, for somebody to give him another shot to play somewhere in the NFL – is anybody else surprised Cleveland hasn’t called him yet? – he is seemingly growing frustrated and has begun lashing out and offering up excuses for his serious decline in productivity.

Though he was playing in his customary outside linebacker spot with Arizona, Woodley still managed to find somebody else to blame for his poor play.

"“In Arizona, we had one of the best defenses. You look at the results that happened in the Carolina game. It wasn’t because we had bad players. No, our defensive coordinator he didn’t have the common sense to talk to his players to make the adjustments. Because he just wanted to do things his way those are the results we got, bottom line.”"

Arizona’s defense ranked fifth overall in the league last year – which means it was a pretty darn good unit. So, it would seem that Cardinals DC James Bettcher maybe, kinda, sorta knows what he was doing.

And while sometimes, the DC is to blame for a shoddy defense – see Jason Tarver – it’s kind of hard to believe that a DC who helps shape his unit into one of the best in the league is the only one to have a hand in a team’s poor performance.

Perhaps Woodley would do better to turn that mirror on himself and see that his play and production have severely declined over the last few years. There’s no shame in it, it happens to everybody as they get older. But the fact of the matter is that Woodley hasn’t been anything close to an impact player in a number of years and that’s not really the fault of the defensive coordinators he’s played for.

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Woodley would do well to look in the mirror and see that he’s just not the player he used to be. Though – his savage hit on Tarver and Bettcher are just the sort of hits Raider fans were hoping he’d be putting on opposing quarterbacks when the team signed him back in 2014.

Woodley’s argument has its merits and isn’t without a solid point. But the bigger problem in all of this seems to be him – he just hasn’t figured that out yet.