The Las Vegas Raiders’ offensive line has gotten off to a rough start following several offseason changes. So, how soon before we see improvements this season under Tom Cable?
To say the offensive line for the Raiders has been a hot topic would be an understatement. Trading one of the best centers in all of football in Rodney Hudson? A staple at right guard that’s been solid through thick and thin with Gabe Jackson? Oh, who could forget the Trent Brown saga coming to an end. The reimagined O-line came out on Monday and didn’t exactly put on a show. Could there be a reason for optimism, though?
The inexperience of the line showed in their baptism by fire. And the flames will only grow this week against one of the best defenses in football in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although Tom Cable’s group started very slow (some might say poorly), they showed improvement. A young, inexperienced offensive line is going to once again be the determining factor on Sunday.
Another Day, Another Test
Andre James is no Rodney Hudson. Alex Leatherwood is no (healthy) Trent Brown. Nonetheless, you don’t have to squint to see why Jon Gruden was comfortable with moving on from their high-priced line. Still, the group is far from perfect. Hindered by injuries to both starting guards, their work is cut out for them tomorrow. Last week, they could only lead the way for 82 rushing yards total. Almost half of those yards came from a Marcus Mariota read option. The ground game will be pivotal against the Steel Curtain’s defense. We all know that Gruden likes to butter his bread on the ground. That also means not needing Derek Carr to throw it a million times a game. Unfortunately, a front four having the likes of Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt will not let anything come easy. Just ask the Buffalo Bills.
However, Tom Cable has done wonders with this Raiders line in the past; look at Kolton Miller. Even with the high-priced line from the 2020 season, the original starting group only played a few snaps together. Yet, Cable had the backups ready to go. The vast improvements, plug-and-play guys, and ability to work on short notice have been impressive to see in Cable’s groups. Although you won’t mistake them for the Great Wall of China, there’s plenty of reason to believe that the offensive line will be ready to go, week in and week out.
Reason for Optimism
My high school football coach (R.I.P. Coach D) always said teams make their biggest leaps between Week 1 and 2. There’s no reason that type of thinking can’t apply at every level of the game. Gruden and Cable can build on last week’s second-half success. If not, they can plan around it, as shown with Carr’s league-leading 435 passing yards through Week 1. But that is easier said than done, and the Steelers’ defense will make sure of that. If the offensive line can show up and show out, the Raiders could again put on a show.
*Top Photo: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports