The Oakland Raiders’ strength as a football team is along the offensive line. Last year, the front five was terrific, but how good is that unit this year?
A big reason the Oakland Raiders went 12-4 in 2016 was the great play up front by their offensive line. This unit sent three players to the Pro Bowl and newcomer left guard Kelechi Osemele was a first team All-Pro.
While the Raiders’ offense has stagnated the last two weeks, how much of that falls on this year’s front-five? Are they still doing a great job? Are there areas where Oakland can get better in the trenches? Let’s find out.
In terms of pass protection, the Raiders have the best pass blocking efficiency in football, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF gives Oakland an exemplary 88.1 mark in that department. The second-place team in pass blocking efficiency would be the Philadelphia Eagles at 85.4.
While the Raiders have allowed the sixth most sacks through the first four weeks (8), they are the best in hits allowed (0), hurries allowed (11) and total pressures allowed (19).
What PFF might be trying to tell us is that eight sacks allowed may be falling largely on injured franchise quarterback Derek Carr. If that’s too painful to stomach, perhaps PFF is giving props to solid pass-rushing concepts by the opposition?
But is this pass blocking superiority for the Raiders misleading? That could be the case, as their franchise quarterback did get hurt while he was getting sacked. Oakland does tend to get the ball out in a hurry on passing downs, possibly elevating the offensive line’s pass blocking grades.
From left tackle to right tackle, here are the Raiders’ pass blocking grades: left tackle Donald Penn (81.8), left guard Osemele (76.8), center Rodney Hudson (84.7), right guard Gabe Jackson (68.7) and right tackle Marshall Newhouse (72.8). Overall, Hudson has been of high quality, Penn has been above average, Osemele and Newhouse have been average and Jackson has been below average.
Through the first four games, Hudson has been the Raiders’ best offensive player, as he has been solid in pass protection and run blocking (84.1) to garner an 85.5 overall grade. Osemele, Penn and Newhouse have all graded better in run blocking than in pass protection, albeit Oakland tends to pass more than run the football.
More from Just Blog Baby
- Raiders news: Free agent TE Foster Moreau diagnosed with cancer
- Order your Jimmy Garoppolo Las Vegas Raiders gear now
- Las Vegas Raiders: 2023 NFL Draft will make-or-break David Ziegler Era
- Raiders news: Jimmy Garoppolo offered a different kind of deal
- Raiders 2023 NFL Draft: Trading down for an elite DT on Day 1
The only real issue for Oakland up front has been Jackson. He has had a miserable first four games with a 40.8 overall grade and a 34.3 run blocking grade. Overall, Oakland has had 144 pass blocking snaps and 84 run blocking snaps.
Maybe the biggest problem has been the receiving corps’ inability to catch the football consistently? However, it does seem that the offensive line sans Jackson is doing their part in pass blocking to get the job done.
Like last year’s team, this offensive line’s strength is in pass protection. It usually provides a clean pocket for the quarterback to throw from. Run blocking is better than expected, although Jackson has been horrendous in that part of the game.
That might be a reason that Oakland is struggling to run the football of late. It’s hard to run the ball with conviction when both guards aren’t playing well. Overall, the eight sacks allowed can’t make Raider Nation happy, but this remains one of the best offensive lines in football for a second straight season.