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Carlisle, as usual, protecting the QB without getting any credit for it
Full disclosure: I have been extremely critical of Cooper Carlisle in the past. I have cursed him, screamed at him and generally wanted him out of Silver & Black at times.
Of course, that was mostly when "Turnstile" Green was beside him and Carlisle looked bad by association. Without Green there last season, Carlisle actually played quite well.
And was still mostly cursed out for it.
Perception is an interesting thing. Once you're set on one, it's tough to get rid of it. Cooper Carlisle is perceived as a liability on the offensive line of the Raiders. It's not true, but it's the widespread perception.
Robert Gallery is perceived as almost elite. He's been good, but no better than Carlisle. Yet he's constantly praised and Carlisle constantly criticized.
See, Carlisle is a free agent signed from the Broncos, not the No. 2 overall pick who Raider Nation desperately wanted something, anything, positive from. At times, I have also been guilty of this thinking.
Gallery mostly gets a pass because Raider Nation needs him to get a pass; and often, the venom spewed forth for other lineman is misdirected and splashes onto Carlisle. I realize this now.
I'm going to make a statement that some will either laugh at, yell at or question me about. Cooper Carlisle is, and has been, our best lineman for at least two seasons.
While cynics will say, "Well, that's not hard," he actually compares very favourably to some of the perceived elite guards in the NFL also. It's not just praise by immediate comparison.
Before you jump to conclusions, before you let any past bias or opinion enter into the equation, know that I went back and studied this guy in 2009 and 2010. He is the least penalized Raider. He pancakes more opponents than any other, and he's solid in pass protection despite having to chip and help out often.
Many will say he doesn't fit the "bully" Hue Jackson wants to build. His tape and his opponent's grass stains, say differently.
Carlisle is underrated, underappreciated and we won't miss him until he's gone. The following table will further illustrate my earlier point that he compares favourably to some elite NFL guards:
NOTE: Mankins's 2010 stats were incomplete, so I took the average of his 2006-2010 seasons. Stats taken from Stats Hosted Solution website.
Other than Ben Grubbs, who was statistically the best overall guard in the NFL last season, Carlisle is the least penalized while giving up as many or fewer sacks than other guards who get much more praise. He is solid, if not excellent.
The Raiders need depth and talent along the line, and they can ill afford to lose both of their best lineman with only inexperience and speculation to fill in behind them.
Gallery is gone; Carlisle needs to stay.