On Sunday, the Raiders looked like a team that had been stripped of its talent and left for dead. The Buffalo Bills looked like the team packed with up-and-coming stars ready to make a splash in the playoffs. Though, with all of the blunders that happened this last weekend, there were a few positives to take away from it all, a ray of sunshine in the gloomy overcast that has become the Raiders season so far. That sunshine is in fact, the Raiders offensive line.
Through all of the ups and downs the Raiders have went through this season, the closest thing to a constant the Raiders have is their offensive line, anchored by Pro Bowl center Rodney Hudson. Hudson is the top pass-blocking center on a quarterback pressure per snap basis, with an overall grade of 99.7 through week 7 according to Pro Football Focus. Hudson hasn’t allowed a sack this year and didn’t even allow a quarterback pressure through the first 6 games of the season.
Another surprise this season has been the freeagent pickup Marshall Newhouse. In New York he was viewed as the weak link by fans, but being reunited with Mike Tice has paid dividends as he has more than held his own in pass-blocking for the Raiders this year. He is less adept at run-blocking but he is still better than Menelik Watson or Austin Howard from previous years. Not only did we get Newhouse on the cheap with a 2-year $3.5 million-dollar deal.
Along with the other Pro Bowler Hudson, the Raiders also employ a good left tackle and in Donald Penn. Even though he is 34 years old, and lost a step, he is still one of the upper-echelon offensive linemen in the league. This year, his production fell off a little bit by giving up more sacks than last year. However, he’s still very good. Speaking of dominant Kelechi Osemele , who is one of the best guards in the league and a mauler by nature. The guy is a road grater and is worth every penny that the Raiders are paying him.
Gabe Jackson rounds out the group, the Raiders think very highly of him, signing the guard to a very lucrative contract this last offseason. It goes without saying that this line was built to protect Carr, especially on passing downs. Their run-blocking isn’t the best, but that’s not what this lineup was constructed for. In a year when so many things haven’t gone as planned for the Raiders and there seems to be regression in areas you wouldn’t expect, the offensive line has, for the most part stayed the same as last year. It regressed a little, but is still one of the top-end offensive lines in the NFL. And, with the turmoil surrounding the Oakland Raiders, finding the silver lining is a must.