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Breaking Down Pat Sims' Stint With the Oakland Raiders

We take a look back at Pat Sims' time with the Oakland Raiders to explain what went wrong, what went right, and what to expect of Sims in 2015.

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John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Sims was drafted by the Bengals in 2008 as a third round pick out of Auburn. As it stands, Sims is the only player from that Cincinnati draft class currently on the roster.

After fulfilling his four-year rookie contract, Sims signed a one-year deal to remain with the Bengals for the 2012 season. He was still recovering from an ankle injury that landed him on Injured Reserve in the previous season, so he spent the first nine weeks on the Physically Unable to Perform list. When he returned, he solidified the unit's run stopping ability and made a few memorable impact plays.

One such play came during a primetime match up with the Philadelphia Eagles. Sims was lined up at defensive tackle across from the Eagles' left guard Evan Mathisthe highest rated guard by PFF over the last four years. Sims dipped around the arms of Mathis and ran up-field like a freight train. The Eagles' running back Bryce Brown was so worried about Sims that he never even secured the ball. It was a clear fumble, and Wallace Gilberry ran the fumble back for a touchdown. The live broadcast angle is included below as well.

After the 2012 season concluded, the Bengals didn't make a strong effort to re-sign Sims. He had some injury issues, but the bigger problem was playing time. The Bengals had four defensive tackles locked in at the time - their two starters (Domata Peko and Geno Atkins) and their two future guys (Devon Still and Brandon Thompson). Sims ended up signing a 1 year, $1.75 million deal with the Oakland Raiders as one of their starting defensive tackles.

In the 2013 season, Sims had the best year of his career. He finished the year with 41 solo tackles, at least 19 more than in every other season he's had. He earned two sacks that year as well, which actually isn't bad for him, as he has seven sacks total in his seven seasons.

His first four games weren't very good, but Sims really showed his value in the middle and latter parts of the season. In Week 5, Sims (#90) makes a nice run stop that shows his power and technique. The Chargers are trying to run an inside hand off to the right side (from the offense's perspective). Sims blows the play up completely. He knocks the Chargers' left guard backwards and looks into the backfield. He sees the running back and sheds the lineman as if he's not even there. This play really shows Sims' ability to anchor and easily shed his blocker to make a play on the ball-carrier. Weaker or smaller lineman trying to move Sims on a run play just don't have a chance.

A few weeks later, Sims makes a similar play to the forced fumble against the Eagles. Sims, on the left side of the screen, shoots between the center-guard gap immediately. The Steelers' backup guard Cody Wallace had no chance on this draw play. He explodes past Wallace then closes quickly on one of the most elusive backs in the league, Le'Veon Bell.

In Week 10, Sims showed his ability to move laterally. Here, Sims is lined up at nose tackle and sorts through the trash and moves down the sideline well as he chases the outside pitch. The rest of the Raiders' defense, notably linebacker #53 and cornerback #21, seal the edge to turn the running back inside toward help. The running back must make his cut up-field, which is where Sims is waiting. Sims delivers a huge hit that knocks the running back backwards a couple feet.

A few weeks later, Sims displays his ability to blow up a run play again. He's working against a rookie left guard, Brian Winters. The rookie gets knocked back several yards into the backfield. As he's dominating Winters at the point of attack, Sims keeps his eyes up and peeks around Winters' helmet. He sees the running back, Chris Ivory is headed inside. Thus, Sims tosses Winters the other way and ends up right in Ivory's path. Sims knocks the 225-pound running back backwards for a four yard loss.

Sims really hit his stride in the last three games of the 2013 season. He earned his first sack of the year in Week 15 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Sims is lined up at defensive tackle across from left guard Jeff Allen. He rushes at Allen's outside shoulder then swats Allen's hands away with both arms. Sims dips his left arm under and around Allen's outside shoulder, so Sims passes Allen before Allen could put a hand on him. The left tackle is then put in the uncomfortable position of blocking two men and neither are blocked. The quarterback has no choice but to brace himself for the impending impact.

In Week 16 of the 2013 season, Sims had the best game of his career by far. He contributed on 15 tackles, which is absurd for a defensive tackle, and 11 of them were solo tackles. He also had a sack and two hits on the quarterback. Sims just abused the Chargers' interior line all day long.

In the first quarter, Sims showed his explosive first step and power. He fires off at the snap and knocks left guard Chad Rinehart backwards a few yards. This play is simple. Sims' explosiveness, strength, and power are obvious.

Sims actually made six more run stops similar to the play above in this game alone. These plays will be skipped because they are simply too repetitive, but you get the picture. The interior linemen of the Chargers just couldn't move him at all. It was a simple formula - Sims knocks them backwards, keeps his eyes up to watch the running back, throws the lineman the opposite direction, and make the tackle for loss. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Later in the first quarter, Sims gets his second sack of the year. This sack and the one shown above are actually Sims' only two sacks in the last two years. Sims begins his rush as if he's going to the outside shoulder of the right guard. He's actually just giving himself space for his spin move back to the inside. The guard recovers well after the initial spin, but he's not ready for the power move that follows. Sims drives the guard backwards into the backfield, where Phillip Rivers was bailing on the throw and trying to scramble for whatever he could. With help from the pressure of the left end, Sims brings down Rivers for a sack.

In the third quarter, after a few more impressive run stops, Sims shows great awareness for the Chargers' intended screen play. Sims knows his strengths and weaknesses. He's not great at getting to the quarterback, but he is great at tracking running backs. He senses the early throw and sees Danny Woodhead slipping behind him, so he bails on the pass rush and starts chasing Woodhead. This quick read and react decision is the key to this play. The linebacker #94 does his job as well, turning the screen inside towards help. In this case, it's Sims and his fellow starting defensive tackle Vance Walker who smother Woodhead for a short gain.

The final play shown from this Chargers game is a solid hit on Philip Rivers. This play helps illustrate the type of pass rusher that Sims is. This is a slow-developing pass rush that wouldn't work on a lot of plays, but it does here. Sims is lined up over the right guard. He switches and attacks the center, Nick Hardwick, instead. Sims tosses Hardwick, one of the lightest linemen in the league at the time, behind him and has a free shot at Rivers. But, Sims is pretty slow. It takes him a while to get to Rivers, so the quarterback has time to sidestep a bit and get the throw off anyways.

This play above is one of Sims' nine quarterback hits in the last four years. It just doesn't happen often. For comparison's sake, Geno Atkins had eight quarterback hits in only eight games in 2013.

Pat Sims is not a pass rusher. In the best season of his career, he ranked 30th out of 63 qualifying defensive tackles in pass rush productivity. The following year, he earned only six pressures all year. His pass rush productivity ranked 69th out of 72 players, which is a much better indication of Sims' normal production. Domata Peko actually ranked 71st last year on that same list.

Sims and Peko are very similar players. Both provide almost nothing as a pass rusher, but they are decent run stoppers and have great awareness for screens. They are a little bit different in that Sims is actually better than Peko at stopping the run, but Sims is more injury prone.

In 2014, Sims definitely had a down year. His snap count percentage was reduced from 62.7% to 37%. The Raiders viewed Sims as a stopgap player, so, in Week 3, they gave his starting spot to a rookie, Justin Ellis. Sims' solo tackle numbers dropped from 41 to 17. His pressure numbers dropped from 24 to 6. Sims still flashed a few impressive plays in run defense, but they didn't happen frequent enough. Sims became a JAG, which means "just another guy".

His ability to stack and shed linemen seemed to disappear. He probably made about ten of these plays all year, yet he made seven of these type of plays in one game in 2013.

One of his good 2014 plays is shown below. This play occurred at the end of a week two game, when Sims was still a starter. You can see the similarity to some of the plays above. Knock the lineman backwards, keep eyes up to peek at the running back, toss the lineman the other way, and make the tackle.

It simply didn't happen enough in 2014.

Similar to the Michael Johnson situation, perhaps the change of scenery and reunion with old teammates and coaches will bring the best out of Pat Sims again. He was signed to a veteran minimum contract of $870,000, according to Paul Dehner Jr. of the Enquirer. If defensive line coach Jay Hayes can bring Sims up to his potential again, the Bengals got a steal.

Before Sims re-signed, it seemed very likely that the Bengals would take a defensive tackle in the first two rounds of this year's draft. Now, this signing allows Cincinnati to take a true best player available approach to the draft now, with DT not such an enormous need.

Geoff Hobson of believes that Sims is competing "with Devon Still for the fourth and final tackle spot, along with, potentially, a couple of drafted and undrafted rookies."

Yet, defensive line coach Jay Hayes suggested that everyone is competing along the line.

"There’s going to be a competition at all the positions. We’ll see if [Sims] is still playing at the level he was at when he was here. It’s been two years. He was a good rotation guy on short-yardage and goal line. He’s a load in there. We’ll see."

At the end of the day, competition breeds success. The move makes the Bengals deeper and better. The team was gashed up the middle for most of last year; with Sims back in the rotation, that likely won't happen again in 2015.