The Las Vegas Raiders’ offensive line revamp isn’t going so well.
After an offseason overhaul that included trading several good veterans, the Raiders O-line is predictably worse than previous seasons. Despite the struggles in both run and pass blocking, Jon Gruden isn’t ready to call the changes a mistake just yet.
“We’re considering all options, but we like our linemen,” Gruden said Tuesday, via the Las Vegas Journal Review. “We really do. We did have some pretty good outings. We are not going to hit the panic button. We’ve got to keep coaching. We’ve got to keep developing these guys.”
Like many teams, the Raiders O-line has dealt with an array of injuries that have thrust backups into prominent roles. But more disconcerting is the struggles of those counted on, particularly the inconsistent play of rookie first-round pick Alex Leatherwood, who has been a turnstile at right tackle and picked up six penalties already.
Outside of LT Kolton Miller, the entire line is underperforming. Derek Carr has been sacked 12 times through four games, tied for third-most in the NFL. Like most quarterbacks, pressure has hurt Carr’s performance. Under pressure, Carr ranks 27th in the NFL in completion percentage (38.9), 20th in completion percentage over expected (-7.2), and 19th in passer rating (61.7), per Next Gen Stats.
In addition to allowing pressure, the run blocking has also been sub-par, with Vegas averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
Monday night’s loss, in which Carr got sacked early as the Raiders got off to another slow start, was the first time the O-line struggles have manifested themselves in a loss. In previous games, the QB was able to overcome getting beaten up.
“Sometimes the medicine is what we all need,” he said. “We all need a taste of that medicine, even though we don’t like the taste. You’ve got to get back to work. You’ve got to get back on the horse. That horse will throw you off once in a while. And if you know anything about (Joey) Bosa and some of these guys in this league, they are pretty good at throwing you off your horse. So, you’ve got to be mentally tough and keep fighting.”
The job doesn’t get any easier for Gruden’s offensive line, who will face former Raiders star Khalil Mack when the Chicago Bears travel to Vegas. Mack’s four sacks in four games to start the 2021 season puts him tied for 10th in the NFL.
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