Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 8/23/12

As the Oakland Raiders' defense prepare for their toughest test of the preseason against the Detroit Lions, defensive coordinator Jason Tarver wants to see the defense continue to show progression. As a first year defense coordinator in the NFL, Tarver is teaching his defense to a new team, but likes what he has seen with team work and process.

“It’s all about process, it really is,” Tarver said. “It’s about teaching progression and processing. Putting everything together in categories so we can progress where we want to go. It’s great that they can see that because now they are putting those things together, going, ‘oh this looks like this. I see myself in this making plays.’ But now we’ve got to do it and we have to do it with 11 guys together.”

Tarver broke into the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and spent 10 years with the team, most coming as a linebackers coach. Last season he jumped to Stanford to be the co-defensive coordinator and the Cardinal led the Pac 12 in six defense categories. After all he has a master's degree in biochemistry and molecular biology helping him match wits against the offense.

The first year Raiders' defensive coordinator wants to utilize multiple defensive looks and schemes. He will be tasked with improving a defense that last season ranked 27th against both the run and the pass. He will use both man and zone coverages. One of the most important aspects Tarver wants to bring to the Raiders is pressure by dialing up blitzes.

“There’s good pressure at times,” Tarver said. “More encouraged is the guys working together and the mindset. It’s about mindset, it’s about I know where I’m going and you’ve got to deal with me.”

There has been much chatter from players like Michael Huff and Richard Seymour that this Raiders defense under Tarver has a chance to be top five. The players love the system because it allows them to be aggressive and make plays. As far as being a top five defense when 2012 is done, Tarver defines good defense in his terms.

“How do you rank a top-five defense” Tarver said. “There’s a lot of ways, but the biggest one is getting the heck off the field and getting the ball to Carson and the guys. That’s the biggest one, that’s what we want to do. The other stats with that, that’s a result of controlling how we get off the field. Third down percentage, red zone touchdown percentage, those are a couple that are good markers.

With the third NFL preseason game widely regarded as the closest to a regular season game as far as starters playing more time and game planning for a specific opponent, Tarver sees the Detroit Lions as a significant challenge. Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and company will give the Raiders defense their best test of the offseason.

“It’s a good order for us,” Tarver said. “You got Dallas that can throw it, and wants to run [the ball] downhill at you. You have Arizona who shifts a little bit and still runs downhill at you, and of course as a good wide receiver. And then you have Detroit that runs it more than most people think they do, but it is a little bit more spread out and they try to get match-ups for their good players. Of course we know the guy with the nickname who is on the cover of ESPN The Magazine this week. But they have other players, and that quarterback he gets it out. It’s kind of a nice progression for us. Facing those three, two styles, and a little slightly different style, with slightly different personnel groups. So we can learn how to use our rules for all our different defenses.”


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