Demoting MLB Rolando McClain from the Raiders’ sub-packages is being hailed as a key to Oakland’s improved defensive showing in Week Six. In fact, some insiders were surprised it took first-year head coach Dennis Allen and his staff the first month of the season to make the move.
Oakland’s defense had its most impressive performance of the season in Week Six, when Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who is among the league’s highest rated passers, was intercepted a season-high three times by the Raiders. Instead of McClain, rookie WLB Miles Burris, a fourth-round pick, played in the nickel package, and McClain played only 17-of-55 snaps. He had been off the field for only 10 defensive snaps in the first four games combined.
The Raiders were pleased with McClain’s response and performance in his new role. He is still starting in the base package and will see his playing time increase against more run-oriented offenses, but for McClain — the No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 draft — this is clearly a sign that if he becomes an every-down player again, it probably will be with a different team.
McClain’s future was already in doubt because of his off-the-field issues, and his demotion only adds to the speculation that he might not be a long-term fit for Allen and GM Reggie McKenzie.