The 2017 Oakland Raiders offense suffered due to various issues. From switching offensive coordinators in the offseason to Derek Carr taking a step back, to a wide receiving group that underperformed, and lastly, to an offensive line that had a hard time switching to a zone-blocking scheme.
Oakland added offensive line coach Tom Cable, who is known for his own version of zone blocking, however, under new head coach Jon Gruden the Raiders could likely use man blocking to better use the team’s personnel. Perhaps what will be a far cry from the disaster that was Todd Downing’s scheme this past season.
But what exactly will these staff changes mean for the maulers in the trenches going forward?
In The Trenches…
Let us first take a look at the last “O-line” that Gruden had in 2000 with the Raiders. That starting unit consisted of Lincoln Kennedy, Mo Collins, Barrett Robbins, Steve Wisniewski and Barry Sims. That offensive line averaged 6’4″ and a half and 317 lbs and was mostly known as a zone blocking offensive line yet, although it seemed that it was more of a man blocking offensive line. Running backs Charlie Garner and Tyrone Wheatley hit those holes like locomotives. Yet people associate Gruden with zone blocking.
This past season, Marshall Newhouse, Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, Kelechi Osemele, and Donald Penn, averaged 6’3″ ½ and 326 lbs. That isn’t a big difference and this current unit has flashed signs in the past that they are the more talented group.
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The weak link in the offensive line is clearly at the right tackle position. Newhouse is a journeyman that played like one. Don’t be shocked if Newhouse gets cut this offseason since there is no guaranteed money owed to him. David Sharpe who was selected in the fourth round in the 2017 draft out of Florida, showed some potential at times and other times displayed horrible footwork. Vadal Alexander‘s play regressed and though Denver Kirkland should be back this season from IR, he is better suited to play guard rather than line up as a tackle.
The Raiders can go out and sign a young offensive lineman like Cameron Fleming from the New England Patriots, or if he is available in the NFL draft, take Oklahoma’s offensive tackle, Orlando Brown. Drafting Brown could knock out two birds with one stone. You can plug him in at right tackle and possibly groom him to be Penn’s replacement, who at 34 years old, isn’t getting any younger and sustained nagging injuries that had him sidelined as the team’s season came to a close.
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