It’s truly one of the simplest concepts in football. Win the battle in the trenches, and your team will win the game. The Oakland Raiders failed to win that battle Monday night against the Denver Broncos, and the game was lost. There has to be some type of push forward when attempting to run the football, and the offensive line could not push the Broncos defensive line. As a matter of fact, by the time Darren McFadden got to the line of scrimmage, his offensive linemen had been pushed back about a yard.
Defensively, there was no push forward, up the middle pressure, to knock the great Peyton Manning off of his game. That coupled with Manning’s quick release and easy reads of the defense, and the Broncos pretty much cruised to victory. Pat Sims and Vance Walker must work together and have some consistency. Their failure to push the Broncos offensive line back resulted in the inability of Lamarr Houston, Jason Hunter, and all the blitzing defenders to get to Manning. Granted, Houston had the only sack of the night and a forced fumble, but it was a little too late.
So where do the Raiders go from here? I don’t quite have an answer to this question. I would like to see the Raiders offensive line be able to grow from this experience, but I saw a lot of missed blocks, and I saw the three interior linemen, Stefen Wisniewski, Andre Gurode, and Mike Brisiel, struggle to get any type of push against the Broncos. As a matter of fact, on running plays the offensive line looked like it was being shoved backward. Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece missed key blocks in the passing game, and this resulted in Terrelle Pryor being hurried or flushed out of the pocket. There’s no way around it, these things must get fixed before this team can move forward.
Luckily, it’s early in the season, and the Raiders can use this as a stepping stone or learning experience. The Raiders linemen must have a short memory. Get over it and move forward. The Washington Redskins are coming to town, and the Raiders have a tough task ahead of them. They must stop a very mobile quarterback who is beginning to find his feet in Robert Griffin, III.
The defensive line is going to have to do to RGIII what the Broncos did to Pryor on Monday night. Get RGIII out of the pocket and uncomfortable. Make him work for all the yards, and this will force turnovers. Don’t let him just sit in the pocket and gash the secondary. The offensive line will need to push the Redskins defense backward onto their heels to allow McFadden to get some rushing lanes. McFadden will need to do a better job of containing his blocking assignment, in order to allow the quarterback time to find the open receiver. Whether the quarterback is Pryor or Matt Flynn this week, blocking is going to be the key to victory. As I said before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again, the battle will be won or lost in the trenches.