Recently, Raiders S Tyvon Branch was interviewed on 95.7 The Fan by John Lund. He answered a variety of questions regarding the state defense, how the team will move forward without Al Davis, and his own contract situation. Branch seemed upbeat about the direction the team is going and seemed unconcerned with his franchise tag and long-term future with the team.You can read the transcript here.
Branch is clearly the best player on the defense and having him buy into the scheme will be key to the team's success, as will locking him up to a long-term contract in the future. Branch is a professional and will not sulk if he doesn't get a contract offer in whatever time he deems appropriate, but his contract should be Reggie McKenzie's top priority going in to the next offseason.
“Everybody is looking good. I’m excited. We’ve got a new defense, guys are out there making plays, been attacking the ball and I’m excited about it.”
Branch's strength is being a ballhawk and attacking the ball in flight. The Raiders' previous man defense did not allow him to do this to the best of his ability, but using more zone will allow him to pick his spots and use his athleticism to its maximum potential.
Branch also seems impressed with Dennis Allen so far (although not a single coach Branch has played under has been even halfway decent) and seems content with the new scheme. Hopefully the rest of the Raiders feel the same, and this team can finally uitilize all the talent it has amassed in the most efficient and effective way possible.
He also mentioned that the team is totally different without Al Davis, with a definite chain of command and practice running at high tempo. In other words, it's being run like an actual NFL team instead of like the Oakland Raiders. Hopefully this increased stability and intensity will result in better performance on the field in the coming seasons.