Oakland Raiders Film Room: OAK at CLE

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Austin Howard Shines as a Blocker

It’s no secret that the right side of the offensive line has been the biggest offensive weakness of this young season. Right tackle Austin Howard and guard J’Marcus Webb have struggled consistently in both the run game and in keeping pressure away from Derek Carr on passing plays. Against Cleveland however, Austin Howard was a BEAST. He allowed zero pressures in all of his 32 passing downs according to ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required). And in the run game, sometimes his performance was pure poetry.

Below we’ll examine a play where Howard blocks not one, but two Cleveland defenders to open the hole for Latavius Murray on the power run. It’s 2nd and 10, early in the second quarter.

On the power run Howard’s responsibility is first going to be to block down on the defensive tackle in front of him, then work to second level defenders. In theory this should always work, but in practice it’s much more difficult than it may seem.

As J’Marcus Webb sheds to his left, Howard is left with the responsibility of blocking the defensive tackle himself to make space for Gabe Jackson coming through the hole on the power blocking action. Jackson is actually going to whiff on his block attempt of safety Donte Whitner as Whitner bounces outside for containment. This leaves trailing linebacker Karlos Dansby in perfect position to make the tackle on Murray.

But Austin Howard isn’t done on this play just yet. He finishes off his first block and moves over to Dansby for the second level block, taking him out of the play. Now Murray can cut behind him and have open field until he reaches the approaching free safety. This is beyond textbook blocking. It’s superstar blocking. Austin Howard literally created space on both sides of the hole for Murray. If he can continue to make big plays like this a few times a game, the Raiders run game is going to be extremely difficult to beat.

Next: Khalil Mack the Video Game