NFL fans like lists and countdowns because it gives them an idea of how their favorite team is doing. Many players like them due to the satisfaction that comes with being one of the best at what they do. That’s not the case fo the Las Vegas Raiders and their offensive line though.
The Raiders offensive line performed well 2019
Although the Raiders finished the 2019 season with a 7-9 record, there was plenty of good on their roster. Tight end Darren Waller broke out in his fourth campaign, and Hunter Renfrow finished the year with back-to-back 100-yard games. Moreover, Josh Jacobs was an Offensive Rookie of the Year runner up. The offensive line as a whole also performed quite well despite not getting much recognition outside the team.
Center Rodney Hudson was his dominant self and continued playing at a high level. Richie Incognito was a force at left guard and quickly became a fan favorite. Gabe Jackson was solid at right guard and so was Trent Brown at right tackle even though he missed five games with injuries. Kolton Miller took a step forward and played way better than he did as a rookie in 2018.
Together, the Raiders offensive line paved the way for Jacobs on his way to 1,150 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Moreover, they allowed just 29 sacks, a steep improvement over their 2018’s total, 52. Pro Football Focus ranked the unit as the 11 best in the league so it’s clear the Silver and Black’s hog mollies were getting recognition as a unit. However, they didn’t get many accolades as individual players.
Jacobs made it to the NFL’s Top 100 list at No. 72 while Waller took the 99th spot. Nevertheless, no Raiders offensive line made the list. Hudson has been one of the most devastating blockers in recent years and his omission in NFL Media’s list and others should definitely raise some eyebrows. Touchdown Wire got it right and named him the best center in the league.
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Richie Incognito isn’t focused on the media’s rankings
It’s natural for many NFL players to look for validation or acknowledgment, they’re human after all and it isn’t inherently wrong. On the other hand, others aren’t interested in outside praise nor approval. Raiders guard Richie Incognito fits that category. In his latest press conference, he says those kinds of lists the media puts together are trivial to him and his teammates.
“Those lists don’t mean much to us, what means a lot to us is winning ball games, protecting the quarterback, and getting Josh Jacobs a lot of yards in the run game. We take big pride in the way we play and those lists are more for the fans than for us.”
Incognito is right on this one. They can’t control what others think of him and it isn’t healthy to set their standards and goals based on what a ranking says or doesn’t. If the Raiders offensive line keeps being its dominant self, it will be thanks to their hard work, not what others say about them. With all their starters coming back, it should not be a tall order to repeat their 2019 performance.
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Top Photo: Las Vegas Raiders official Youtube Channel