If you talked to anybody about the weaknesses of the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022, chances are you would hear the same thing: offensive line. Ever since the Jon Gruden regime decided to move on from Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson, the Las Vegas offensive line has been a major issue.
Of course, the Raiders have been able to develop some quality players along the line. First of all, left tackle Kolton Miller is now one of the best players in the league at his position. On the inside, undrafted center Andre James is slowly becoming a valuable player after building a rapport with Derek Carr.
Despite these two talented players, it is the other three guys who have caused fans to worry. After all, the Raiders appear to be rotating players at both spots on the right side of the offensive line. With Lester Cotton Sr., Dylan Parham, Thayer Munford, and Jermaine Eluemunor all seeing playing time, the Raiders are in a bind. In fact, the first three players listed had never seen NFL playing time before Sunday.
Is Raiders QB Derek Carr to blame?
To say the offensive line deserves all the blame for the five sacks taken by Carr on Sunday wouldn’t be fair. Ultimately, the offensive line can only hold up for so long, especially against the fearsome duo of Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa.
As seen in this play, the pass protection really does give Carr enough time to make a play. However, the notoriously poor pocket presence from Carr shows up once again. Simply, he has to be better at extending plays.
The most frustrating part of this is that Carr is plenty athletic enough to create plays outside of the structure, he simply decides not to do it most of the time. If Josh McDaniels can get him to consistently make plays on the move, the Raiders’ offense would instantly become one of the league’s best. His unwillingness to do so arguably cost the Raiders the game on Sunday.
How did the offensive line do?
Now, while Carr was certainly bad in this game, the offensive line had some truly terrible moments. All in all, they were outmatched by the talent on the Los Angeles defense, especially when it came to Mack.
This play is the perfect example of just how outmatched the Raiders lineman were against the future Hall of Famer. With an uncanny ability to turn speed into power, he decides he is going to just lift Eluemunor off the ground and throw him into Carr. Of course, there is not much the offense can do in a play like this.
Once again. Mack and Derwin James are able to just overwhelm the Vegas offensive line. Most alarming for members of Raider Nation has to be seeing Miller on his back. Tripped up by running back Josh Jacobs, the Raiders cannot afford to have those two messing up protections.
In Week 1, the Raiders were sacked five times which, obviously, is not going to be a winning recipe. There was plenty of blame to go around as well, Carr was terrible at extending plays and the offensive line was not competitive enough against a talented defense.
In Arizona, the Raiders draw a much easier assignment. Without two future Hall of Famers to worry about, this could be a great game for the Raiders’ front five to rebound and start to gel as a unit. On the plays when they don’t hold up, Carr must show the ability to get out of collapsing pockets. At the risk of being dramatic, it may be necessary for them to become a playoff team.