Year 2 of the Josh McDaniels era commenced on Sept. 10, as the Las Vegas Raiders secured a 17-16 victory vs. the Denver Broncos. Not everything went according to the game plan, with Jimmy Garoppolo turning the ball over in the red zone. Plus, the defense recorded several untimely errors of their own.
The Raiders Offensive Line Was Brilliant In Pass Protection
However, there was one unit that received considerable praise from multiple publications. The Las Vegas offensive line put together a nice afternoon for the Silver and Black. That is, at least in pass protection.
X user (@benbbaldwin) compiled an aggregated list, taking the pass-blocking grades from PFF, SIS, and ESPN and meshing them together to form a concrete ranking. As you’ll have it, the three grading systems combined to give the Raiders’ o-line the No. 1 spot on the list.
But let’s break it down in further detail. Pro Football Focus had the lowest overall grade of the three sources: Thayer Munford Jr. (78.7), Greg Van Roten (73.2), Kolton Miller (73.0), Andre James (70.8), Dylan Parham (67.7), and Jermaine Eluemunor (60.9) all had above-average to mediocre performances individually.
SIS Data Hub gave the Raiders a perfect 100/100 score, as no Vegas player was charged with a blown block the entire 60 minutes vs. Denver. While this is certainly subjective, SIS is known for its high-quality work — so this isn’t some Joe Blow saying the Raiders played well.
Moving on to ESPN, they used pass-block win rate as the metric for grading. The easiest way to gauge how the offensive line held up while facing pressure is to see how often a Broncos pass rusher won a rep. The answer? Not often. At a rating of 94 overall, Vegas slotted behind only the Chiefs in Week 1.
The Run-Blocking On The Other Hand…
Now, pass-blocking is only one-half of the job for an offensive line. Sporting a 57.6 grade from PFF shows that work still needs to be done in the run-blocking phase. That may be a difficult improvement to make, given the starters on the interior of the o-line.
Dylan Parham, Andre James, and Greg Van Roten all share one similar downside: Anchoring in as a run blocker. Too often, the triumvirate fails to get a push off the snap. Last season, it regularly left ball carriers hung out to dry without a running lane ever opening up, forcing Josh Jacobs to be a magician.
Unfortunately, that continued on Sunday vs. Denver.
Another factor is the splitting of snaps between Thayer Munford Jr. and Jermaine Eluemunor at right tackle. Head coach Josh McDaniels said after the game that both guys have earned this opportunity, but it is fair to wonder how the unit’s continuity will be affected if it’s a revolving door on the right side.
The good news? Jimmy Garoppolo hardly had a finger laid on him in his Raiders debut. The concerning hits came when Garoppolo scrambled from the pocket. For a quarterback who constantly gets bashed for durability issues — and rightfully so — “Jimmy G” needs continued excellence from his protectors upfront to log a 17-game campaign.
The bad news? The Raiders are destined to be a middle-of-the-road offense if the line cannot step up in the run game. Jacobs can only do so much by himself. He struggled to break free in Week 1, as Denver defenders regularly made first contact in the backfield.
Can The Raiders O-Line Stay Hot vs. Tough Matchup Against Bills?
All in all, it was far more good than bad. With Garoppolo, Davante Adams, and the emerging Jakobi Meyers, Vegas has a vaunted air attack, thanks in large part to the offensive line. But, if the Raiders want to really challenge for a postseason berth, the big boys in the trenches must start moving piles and creating running lanes for Jacobs and Co.
The team will get a chance to move to 2-0 against the Buffalo Bills this Sunday. The dominant front seven from West New York won’t make life easy on the Vegas offensive line.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/David Zalubowski