Raiders OC Mick Lombardi talks Thayer Munford, Derek Carr, and Fullbacks

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 18: Offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi of the Las Vegas Raiders looks on during the second half of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Allegiant Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 18: Offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi of the Las Vegas Raiders looks on during the second half of a game against the Arizona Cardinals at Allegiant Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

Las Vegas Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi opened up about the progress of Thayer Munford while also touching on other notable subjects.

The talk of the town regarding the Raiders’ offense has been Josh Jacobs. Looking back at the last few weeks, it’s fair that Jacobs is receiving his share of the praise. Nevertheless, Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi is cognizant of the fact that there’s been a lot of work put in by others in his offense. In this case, we’re referring to Thayer Munford, Derek Carr, and Jakob Johnson.

Before the season getting underway, there were a lot of jitters regarding the offensive line. As the team progressed from game to game, some fans grew weary of the constant shuffling. However, as we are all seeing now, there was a method to the madness.

Lombardi addressed that madness while speaking to the media recently.

"“They’ve done a very decent job here the past few weeks. They strung a couple weeks together in terms of running the football and protecting the quarterback. I keep saying it every week, but they’ve worked really hard in practice, and they have. We’ll keep going each week and playing the guys who practice the most and execute the job, giving us the confidence on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday to go out there and play on Sunday. And the combination you guys have seen on Sunday has been a reflection of that.”"

The current lineup is dominating in terms of run blocking. Just look at the holes they’re making for Jacobs. Simultaneously, they’re also quietly efficient with their pass blocking. Carr was sacked five times in Week 1, only to be sacked the same number of times throughout the last three games. Improvement on a week-to-week basis; it’s all anyone can ask for.

Speaking of improvement, what about Munford’s development?

Raiders OL Thayer Munford is maturing before our eyes

When the preseason began, Brandon Parker was slated to be the starting right tackle. Jermaine Eluemunor was seen as a capable option as well, given his history with Lombardi and Josh McDaniels. However, injuries and inconsistent play allowed Munford to see more reps. Now the argument has become whether the Raiders should just let him ride out the season as the full-time starter.

Truthfully, the team wouldn’t be making the wrong choice in that regard. He’s been on an absolute roll the last couple of games. According to Pro Football Focus, Munford hasn’t allowed a single pressure during that run, which is based on 76 snaps.

"“Thayer is coming here from Ohio State and played guard and tackle in college. He’s kind of found a little niche here at tackle for us in terms of trying to develop as a player. And I think I’ve brought it up to you guys numerous times here with any young player, and especially linemen. They try and come in here and they try and just figure things out.”"

Munford’s rapid development this season is one of the high marks for this new coaching staff. To go from seventh-round selection to starting right tackle in one season is remarkable. It appears to be the perfect blend of luck, patience, talent, and coaching.

Raiders QB Derek Carr and play action

It’s surely been satisfying for Raiders fans as they’ve witnessed the team’s offense gelling and becoming a force to be reckoned with before their eyes. Let’s give credit where it’s due. Jacobs’ steamrolling defense is allowing Lombardi and the offense to open things up with the play action.

The identity of this team is arguably one of a power-run oriented group, which then allows Carr and Co. to do their thing downfield. When you have an entire defense focused on one player, as we saw with the Texans, it makes things easier for No. 4.

Lombardi touched on the efforts of the offense on the subject of play action.

"“Play action takes all 11 guys. So, the running game obviously is a great effect of that, and we have to make sure that we do our job up front. The backs have got to do a great play fake, the quarterback has got to give a great play fake, and the linemen have to block as if it’s a run play. And if we all do that, then it makes it easy for the scope of players to get open, and they have to run the right route and get open, obviously. But when you run the ball as effectively as we have the past few weeks, then obviously it’s a benefit to do that.”"

It’s not a coincidence that just as Jacobs has taken off, so has Carr. It’s only natural that Carr is reaping the benefits of the attention that No. 28 is commanding. Statistically speaking, Raiders fans should be overjoyed with Carr’s progression.

According to Sportradar, Carr went nine for 10 in play action against the Texans. He recorded 116 yards through the air on those passes, which was tied for most in a game since 2020, according to Josh Dubow of the Associated Press.

There are other components (along with Carr and Jacobs) to this success as well, namely the O-line, which Lombardi was sure to praise.

"“I think Derek is just taking the game plans and really effectively taking them on Sunday and playing very effectively with them. And I think he feels comfortable with the system. I think he feels comfortable in the pocket. The linemen have done a really good job of staying inside out, and he’s true to his progressions and trusts the play. And I think that carries over. He works on his footwork and works on his techniques every single day in practice, and it translates into the game.”"

Jakob Johnson has turned out to be a key cog

Speaking of play action, another contributor to that success has been the Raiders’ fullback, Jakob Johnson. The former New England Patriot has become the silent assassin for the Silver and Black, making key blocks for Jacobs. The duo has been unstoppable the last few games.

More than just the play action, Lombardi pointed out that Johnson lends to the entire gameplan, the identity of this offense if you will. So far, when Johnson is on the field, the Raiders appear to be controlling the line of scrimmage, setting up power runs dialed up by Lombardi and McDaniels. Clearly, the coaching staff knew what they were doing when they brought in the fullback.

"“I think for us, in terms of fullback, I think it brings us an element of toughness, downhill runs, and we feel like we can control the line of scrimmage with a fullback on the field. And it depends on the game plan, right? Obviously, we go into each week saying, ‘What personnel groupings give us certain things we can try to attack from what we’re trying to do offensively?’ And if we see that [Jakob] Jak [Johnson] being on the field gives us a certain look we want to try to exploit, then we’ll do that. If it’s not, then we won’t. So, just the capability of doing that per week and then we like doing that, so we’ll continue to do it.”"

It’ll be interesting to see how Johnson’s role evolves once opposing defenses begin to dial in on Jacobs and the run game. Sooner or later, the box is going to get stacked, and not even a fullback will be able to consistently open things up. That’s where the creativeness of McDaniels and Lombardi will be tested.