Raiders GM says versatility of Nick Roach “jumped out”Continue reading.
Raiders coach expects big things from Nick Roach
PHOENIX – Oakland Raiders coach Dennis Allen was glowing when talking about his newest addition — former Bears linebacker Nick Roach. Allen even called Roach the “quarterback” of his defense.
“No. 1, when you put on the tape, he’s all over the place,” Allen said Tuesday during the AFC coaches breakfast at Arizona Biltmore during the NFL owners meetings. “You visually see production, and I think that’s one of the first things
that you look at. Anybody that’s you’ve talked to around the league that’s either been in the locker room with him or been in involved with coaching him can’t say enough good things about him.
“Then you bring him in and you visit with him and you find out just how smart this guy is and you really find out how important football is to him and the level of commitment that he’s going to be willing to put forth to not only perform on the field individually, but to take on some of that leadership role that we’re looking for in our locker room.”
Roach, a six-year veteran out of Northwestern, was the Bears’ starting strong-side linebacker, starting 59 career games. He also took over in the middle for the final four games of last season after Brian Urlacher injured his hamstring.
Roach expressed a desire to remain with the Bears, who coveted his versatility. But Oakland had the cap space to sign him to a four-year, $13 million deal. The Bears — as general manager Phil Emery recently made clear — are “tight against the cap.”
Allen said he envisions Roach beginning as the Raiders’ starting middle linebacker right now.
“I think the great thing about Nick is that he’s very versatile,” Allen said. “Again, put the Chicago tape on him and you see him play all three linebacking positions: Sam, Mike and Will. That’s what I think is great about him. I think we’ll start him off in the middle and we’ll kind of see where things go from there.”
The most impressive thing about Roach was “just his intelligence,” Allen said. Roach, who also was a valuable special-teams player, had 84 tackles, five tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and fumble recovery in 2012 (per Bears statistics).
“We had a chance to sit down and watch some video with him and kind of go over some things,” Allen said. “He really had a grasp and a concept for what we were talking about. I can see that translating onto the football field. He’ll be a guy who can be that quarterback of our defense, that can help us get everybody on the right page, get everybody lined up and execute the way we need to.”
Roach often has been overshadowed by the exploits of Urlacher and Lance Briggs. Allen said the idea of being “the guy” for the Raiders may have been very attractive for Roach.
“I think if you ask anybody within [the Bears] organization over there, they’d say they know exactly what they had in Nick Roach,” Allen said. “I’m sure they didn’t want to lose him. I think some of [his talents are] lost [behind] Urlacher and Briggs. I think that’s probably one of the things that attracted Nick to us is the fact that he was going to come into a situation where it wasn’t somebody else’s defense. In Chicago, I don’t think there is any mistaking that this is a Brian Urlacher-Lance Briggs defense.”