Much has been made about the offensive line for the Las Vegas Raiders this offseason. Whatever your opinions may be, the organization appears to have a plan and will see it through.
The Raiders’ offseason got off to a slow start in terms of big-name free agent signings, and as always, Raider Nation was quick to respond on social media. Then, the dominos started falling, and new general manager Dave Ziegler went from becoming a meme to being heralded as a genius. This is the world of the Raiders, often dominated by knee-jerk reactions and highly opinionated fans. However, Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels aren’t concerned with any of that. Instead, their only focus is their vision, which was laid out back when they were first introduced.
When it comes to the trenches, the Raiders have had an approach that’s left those same fans bewildered. Why? Well, the crew came together in the season’s final stretch, helping the run game finally get going and punch their ticket to the playoffs. Despite that, the unit appeared to need some upgrades. Injuries took their toll and players that were projected to be rotational pieces instead saw major playing time.
ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez summed it up best when he projected how many fans likely feel right about now.
"Kolton Miller at left tackle. John Simpson at left guard. Andre James at center. Alex Leatherwood at right guard. And Brandon Parker at right tackle. OK, exhale …"
Yes, it’s not the sexiest or flashiest lineup, but you have to keep things in perspective. Tom Cable is gone, and now Mick Lombardi has taken over the reins as offensive coordinator under McDaniels, with Carmen Bricillo handling O-line coaching duties.
Keeping last year’s unit together isn’t appealing to fans, but it could be a classic case of a new coaching staff recognizing talent and potential in a group they’re inheriting.