Within the context of a football game, many individual battles help determine the outcome. For the Oakland Raiders and their desperate cling to their playoff chances, Sunday night’s game in Miami is no different. The Raiders need to win this and just about every game remaining. With that said, every snap is important and every single matchup remains the same. One matchup that bears watching is Guards Gabe Jackson, Kelechi Osemele and Dolphins’ tackle Ndamukong Suh. For football fans, this is the interior contest that many waited for. RaiderNation needs a decisive Osemele victory in order to win this game. Here’s a rundown of what to expect.
Without a doubt Sun is the most explosive defensive tackle the Raiders will face all season. What makes him such a disruptor is how he explodes off the ball. Although he enters his 30s, Suh’s ability to burst off the snap and get into the chest of lineman remains a vital part of his game. More importantly, he channels that explosion into strength, jarring lineman, forcing them backwards. By the same token, he gets an arm free to collapse running lanes simultaneously.
Luckily, Osemele and Jackson possess the brute strength to meet Suh at the line and not be consistently overpowered at the line of scrimmage. Both Raiders guards can deal with the power aspect of his game. Yet, they need to prepare for the sudden tendencies of his first step.
During his career, Suh earned a reputation as a borderline, if not dirty player. From stomping heads and legs to driving quarterbacks into the ground like tent spikes, he brings next-level nastiness to the field. In spite of numerous fines and threatened suspensions, Suh refuses to change his style. More concerning is the fact that despite signing a hundred million dollar contract, his approach does not change. Suh will punch, kick, elbow, and do what he wants on the field without fear. If you look at the last ten days alone, it reflects his style. Since October 22, he racked up flags for Face Mask, Illegal Use of Hands, and two Unnecessary Roughness penalties.
Jackson and Osemele need to watch Suh for their own protection and teammates during the play and after the whistle. If he gets out of hand with the cheap shots, they need to meet him with the same. The issue with Suh is no one really meets him at that level. Suh, like Richie Incognito last week is a bully that will push around weaker opponents. Now, neither Jackson nor Osemele are pushovers, but if Suh brings the issue to them, they need to respond in kind. This will not be a Marcus Peters situation. One of these two Raiders needs to deal with Suh straight up. Also, by some luck, if the Raiders blow this game open; look for Suh’s frustration level to rise. In that case, he will inevitably lose his temper and lash out.
All things considered, the battle between Ndamukong Suh and the Oakland guard tandem looks to be an old school brawl. However, with Suh’s penchant to outright break rules, Jackson and Osemele need to set the tone early and control the action from the first snap.