Oakland Raiders Being Held Hostage by Their Offensive Line
The Raiders have had themselves a great offseason.
They have loads of talent on this roster.
So why did Sunday remind me of the 2006 opener against the Chargers?
Cooper Carlisle is done!
Mario Henderson can't get out of his stance!
Jared Veldheer's brain has been overloaded with too many responsibilities too soon. The man has never played center before and his first game at center is his first game in the NFL.
Something must be done about the offensive line!
Turn the page to see how the Raiders are being held hostage by their offensive line.
Jason Campbell was brought in to be the next Jim Plunkett.
Campbell actually put up better numbers in his first few years than Plunkett.
However, if the Raiders don't protect the quarterback, he will end up being the next Dan Pastorini. For those of you who don't know, Pastorini was a good quarterback for the Houston Oilers in the '70s.
The Raiders then traded for him in 1980 and he was supposed to be the Raider's franchise quarterback. He was injured during the 1980 season and the rest is history for Jim Plunkett.
In game one for the Raiders, Campbell was 22-37 for 180 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also had a fumble and was sacked four times in the first half.
Campbell had pressure all day and most of it came from the worst places (up the middle and his blind side).
Peyton Manning wouldn't have played well under those circumstances.
Darren McFadden is looking to outrun his bust label and needs help in doing so.
Sunday was a step in the right direction as he had 18 carries for 95 yards to go with six catches for 55 yards and a touchdown.
It was good to see because he didn't have big lanes to run through.
McFadden actually made people miss and broke tackles on Sunday. That is something I have not seen from him since he entered Raider Nation in 2008.
But McFadden has yet to complete a 16-game season and the offensive line needs to help.
Zach Miller is a superstar tight end waiting to happen.
But he couldn't get involved enough in the passing game.
He managed only four catches for 43 yards and that included a 27-yard catch.
So why wasn't he more involved?
Campbell didn't have time to find him.
In fact, Miller was often held in to help block because Henderson didn't handle his business. There were even times that they took Miller out in favor of an extra tackle.
That's not how you get your best receiver involved.
Darrius Heyward-Bey is also affected by the inept offensive line play.
The improved 2009 first-round pick only had one catch for 11 yards. Heyward-Bey simply had no time to get downfield because Campbell was under pressure all day.
Heyward-Bey cannot continue to improve or show improvement this way.
Louis Murphy was also affected by the horrible offensive line play. The man had four catches for 28 yards with his longest being 16 yards.
Murphy is a big play waiting to happen, but will have to keep waiting until the Raiders have time to throw down the field. All the short routes that the Raiders had him running just isn't what he does.
He'll be another wasted weapon if the Raiders don't fix things.
Michael Bush will be affected by the porous offensive line play when he's back from injury. Many argued that he should be given the full load out of the backfield over McFadden.
So far, McFadden has proven me right.
They should share the load because they complement each other well.
But we argue for nothing if the offensive line isn't fixed.
Bush did average 4.8 per carry last year but that came from two games that he broke loose in. He had too few carries to qualify to be among the league leaders in yards per carry.
As it was, he had a couple of big games but was not a consistent ground weapon. The offensive line would not allow Bush or anyone to become that last year.
They better fix that line to keep our backs going this year.
Chaz Schilens showed that he could play as soon as the Raiders gave him a chance.
Then the question became can he play?
What do I mean?
Can he play or will injuries prevent him from doing so as they are now?
When he returns, a new question awaits.
Will his quarterback have enough time to allow Schilens to make plays?
Much has been said about the run defense of the Raiders this year.
It is a much improved unit but the stats didn't show it for Sunday.
I just can't fix my fingers to type that they aren't much improved against the run.
Chris Johnson is the best running back in the league and was being held to 36 yards on his first 12 carries. In the first half, the Raiders were 0-7 on third-down and that left the defense on the field for almost the entire half.
That led to Johnson's 13th carry going for a 76-yard touchdown.
The Raider defense was victimized by another big play.
Fatigue had everything to do with it because fatigue is what leads to mistakes.
99.99999999 percent of big plays come from mistakes.
Tom Cable spoke of the Raiders' "misalignment" causing the play in a postgame interview.
The play put Johnson at 13 carries for 112 yards.
After a halftime rest, the Raider defense came out and held Johnson to 30 yards on his last 14 carries. They actually got a little help from the offense moving the ball better and scoring a touchdown.
However, there is more than just fatigue involved in the Titans making big plays on offense. Offensive coordinators are paid a great deal of money to set the opposing defenses up.
In the first quarter, the Titans had plenty of plays to make their set-up.
Early in the game, Vince Young beat the Raiders for 20 yards on an option play. A little later in the game, Young faked the option and threw the ball right over the top of Stanford Routt for a 56-yard touchdown.
Routt bit on the option fake after the Raiders were beaten on it earlier.
On top of the big plays, the Titans also benefited from short fields as Campbell threw a pick and fumbled. This once again is a testament to the tremendous pressure he was under on Sunday.
Hue Jackson is a brilliant offensive mind.
His track record in Cincinnati and Baltimore tell us that.
His preseason work does as well.
But how brilliant can your offensive mind be when your team can't protect the quarterback?
Let's add to that the third-and-long situations the Raiders were in Sunday. Playing from way behind isn't a recipe for a brilliant offensive mind either.
Jackson couldn't even use his tight end because his left tackle can't protect the quarterback. All of these factors are beyond Jackson's control.
Give the man something to work with.
Solutions: Left Tackle
My first option is still Jared Gaither, but I don't know just how bad his back injury is. Plus it is not known exactly how much the Ravens are asking for him these days.
I would send Chris Johnson and or Michael Huff at this point.
Guys that give us very little in the secondary do well over there.
Look at Fabian Washington.
Tony Ugoh was just released by the Colts and would cost the Raiders nothing to bring him in. He did protect Manning very well for a few years.
How long would Henderson have lasted as a Colt?
If you want to stay in house, how about giving Khalif Barnes a try?
He is healthy this year.
Logan Mankins is a Pro Bowl guard, but has played center and played it well.
Patriots can't keep the price tag for Mankins too high as time goes on. The Patriots won their opener with Mankins at home having sworn that he will not wear a Patriot uniform again.
This would be a great move because Veldheer could kick over to right guard and have less responsibility. Bruce Campbell could then go back to left tackle as a backup until ready.
How about bringing back the recently released Jake Grove?
He did miss time this preseason but could be ready by now.
That's another move that allows Veldheer to move to guard to relieve him of added pressure. Perhaps the addition of Ugoh or the promotion of Barnes, along with the return of Grove, will help.
The Raiders were a top 10 rushing team the last time Grove was in Silver and Black.
I'm out of ideas, but I hope Davis and company aren't.
They need to do something.
I hope you enjoyed the slide show.