Championship teams are formed piece by piece, soldered together by the culmination of talented players that understand their roles. With NFL teams consisting of 53 players, it’s a bit harder to do that, as the Oakland Raiders are finding out. They’ve seemed to have struck gold in offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse.
In 2016, the Raiders offense took the league by storm, riding the back of star quarterback Derek Carr. The Pro Bowl gunslinger led Oakland to multiple comeback victories, finishing in the top five for most valuable player rankings. But an untimely injury in Week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts resulted in a broken leg and the catastrophic end to Oakland’s first winning season in 14 years. A rejuvenated offensive line spearheaded by three pro bowlers was a key component. The right tackle position was the main flaw, with both Austin Howard and Menelik Watson struggling to stay healthy.
In the offseason, Oakland brought in Newhouse, who struggled through the first six years of his career to say the least. In that span, Newhouse played for three teams. In his first three years with the Green Bay Packers, he allowed an abysmal 25 sacks. Over the last two years with the New York Giants, he allowed seven sacks, while racking up 11 penalties.
But the difference for Newhouse in Oakland opposed to his prior team’s, is Raiders offensive line coach Mike Tice. Tice helped center Rodney Hudson and guard Kelechi Osemele make their first Pro Bowls in 2016, while tackle Donald Penn made his second in six seasons. Whatever Tice is doing to instill confidence in his guys, it’s paying dividends, and Newhouse is proof.
Through five games, Newhouse has given up just two sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, of off tackles with 100 or more pass block snaps, Newhouse’s six pressures allowed are the sixth-fewest in the league. The Raiders line has allowed just 19 total pressures, the lowest in the league, and Newhouse is a big part of that.
While Newhouse has to match up with the AFC West’s premiere edge rushers and some of the league’s best through the next 11 weeks, he’s shown a vast improvement. He may not be the long-term solution at right tackle for the Raiders, but he certainly has stepped up in a time of need.
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