Last year, the Raiders offensive line was blamed for many of the Raiders’ failures offensively as the team finished 23rd in total offense and 24th in scoring offense. This characterization, however, was largely unfair, and the o-line should be credited with the Raider offense not finishing dead last. Offensive Line coach Tony Sparano’s work with the unit, along with OC Greg Olson’s blocking schemes, got the most out of the line unit that was a patchwork group from the outset and that saw multiple key players miss time with injuries.
The 2013 Raiders finished the season ranked 12th in rushing offense with 2,000 total yards and a 4.6 yards per carry average as a team. While the rushing statistics were somewhat inflated by Terrelle Pryor’s 576 yards and 6.9 YPC average, team rushing leader Rashad Jennings managed a 4.5 yard per carry average on the year. The Raiders’ 44 sacks surrendered was tied for 10th worst in the league, however, and many blamed the offensive line. However the o-line was not solely to blame for the sacks: Terrelle Pryor, in his nine starts, was sacked 31 times. Matt McGloin, who started six games, was only sacked six times. While some of the early season struggles can be attributed to injuries, especially to Jared Veldheer, injuries plagued the unit throughout the season. The key difference was at quarterback: mobile Terrelle Pryor also had one of the slowest average release times in the league last year, and continually made futile attempts to gain time with his feet rather than get rid of the football. While he was a dangerous running threat if he could get out of trouble and take off, he was also prone to being corralled and sacked. When McGloin stepped in, the Raiders lost a dangerous running threat but the passing game became dramatically more effective. McGloin dropped, made his read, and threw the football. While he did throw just as many INT’s as TD’s, he took dramatically fewer sacks behind the same offensive line that Pryor had a hard time staying upright behind.
This year, the revamped Raiders offense will need to start from scratch, but are the right parts are now in place to make sure that we don’t see a repeat of the first nine weeks of 2013? The answer may surprise you: