Raiders Offensive Line Must Continue to Play Well in Minnesota

After splitting the first two games of the season, the Oakland Raiders face another tough opponent on Sunday as they travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings.

Prior to the start of the 2019 season, one area of the roster I was particularly concerned with was how the offensive line will operate given that quarterback Derek Carr was sacked a career-high 51 times in 2018.

Facing a talented Denver Broncos defense in Week 1 that boasts edge rushers Bradley Chubb and Von Miller, ‘the Carr’ was kept clean as the offensive line didn’t allow any sacks or hits on the quarterback. Despite not having starting guards Gabe Jackson (injury) and Richie Incognito (suspension), Jordan Devey and Denzelle Good played exceptionally well.

Even though Carr was sacked three times in Week 2 vs Kansas City, the O-line held their own as the ground attack was formidable once again. Oakland averaged 6.8 yards per carry collectively, while rookie Joshua Jacobs led the way averaging 8.3 yards on his 12 touches.

Starting left tackle Kolton Miller, who many were concerned with entering this season after being ranked 80th out of 83 tackles in 2018, kept a clean sheet two weeks in a row.

As the Raiders third game approaches, Incognito will be inserted into the starting lineup but fellow guard Denzelle Good and right tackle Trent Brown are both banged up and listed on the team’s injury report. After missing practice earlier in the week, Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area Newspaper Group reported that Brown traveled with the team to Minnesota and the only players listed as “out” are Gabe Jackson and Dwayne Harris.

If Brown were to miss time, it would be a cause for concern as that would place Brandon Parker into the starting lineup. In 2018 only four offensive tackles allowed 10 sacks or more per Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus and two of those players are on the Silver and Black. Kolton Miller led the way with 16 and Parker allowed 10.

During offseason training and preseason play, Miller looked drastically improved from his rookie season and Gruden’s risk of keeping him as the starting left tackle appears to be paying off. The same cannot be said for Parker, as the team signed Brown to a record-breaking contract that has placed Parker as a backup.

While Parker had moments of success in the preseason playing on each side of the line, it came at the hands of backups. The last thing the Raiders offense needs as they kickstart a brutal stretch of road games is for their prized free-agent acquisition to miss time.

With Incognito at left guard, if Denzelle Good is unable to play or gets hurt during the game, Devey would presumably shift to the right side. In my opinion, that’s not much of a concern as we have already seen Devey play well when called upon.

Through the ups and downs of the Raiders offensive line, center Rodney Hudson has been a constant source of protection for Carr and a reliable blocker for the ground attack. With his near-perfect play over the last several seasons, there are virtually no concerns at center for the Raiders.

Oakland obviously has issues on defense that need addressing after the Chiefs’ second-quarter flurry of points, but if the Raiders want to come away with a difficult road win, what goes on in the trenches will have a significant impact on which team comes away victorious.

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