Oakland Raiders: Time For Offensive Line To Return To Greatness.
Terrell White – May 14, 2012
Holla At Me Raider Nation!
Sniff, sniff, you smell that? That brothers and sisters would be the faint scent of football in the air! Can you smell it?!? (because I can) So, lets talk about some football; More importantly, let's talk about some Raider Football!
Now, I know that you've been reading how it's a new day in Oakland, and how the sun is shining down on Reggie Mckenzie; The birds are singing to Dennis Allen, blah, blah, blah. I'm sure this type of chatter sells a lot of papers. As for myself I don't do this to sell papers. I do this because I love the Raiders!
I'm not going to tell you that everything is coming up Silver & Black roses. I'm not going to tell you that Oakland is going to the Super Bowl. New ownership, new general manager, new head coach, starting quarterback and running back who haven't played together; No, Raider Nation I'm not talking about going to the Super Bowl.
Let's get this team a playoff game, and a playoff win before we start talking about going to, and winning a Super Bowl. Moreover there are certain, let's say issues, that this team needs to work out before we're ready to be called CHAMPIONS!!
One of these issues has to do with the Oakland Raiders offensive line.
If we take a quick trip back into time we can recall that at one point Lane Kiffin was the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. We can also recall that during Lane Kiffin's tenure as head coach the offensive line (being kind) wasn't exactly the strength of the team.
Fast forward a bit and we find Tom Cable, who by the way just happened to be a former offensive line coach, as the new head coach for our Oakland Raiders; However, despite having a new head coach the offensive line was having the same old problems.
What problems you ask?
Where should I begin? Let's start with the fact that no matter who we put in the quarterback position the offensive line could not protect him. Do I need to remind you of the revolving door we had a quarterback (which had little to do with JaMarcus Russell)?
Kyle Boller - injured. Bruce Gradkowski - injured. JaMarcus Russell - well, what can I say about JaMarcus that hasn't already been said? Never the less, the offensive line did not provide him with much protection either. Nor did it provide much for Jason Campbell, who in case you forgot had his clavicle broken while scrambling for his life.
Exit Tom Cable - enter new head coach Hue Jackson (along with new quarterback Carson Palmer). Now, while Carson did manage to make it to the end of the season without suffering a major injury he didn't have the most comfortable of times in the pocket. I'm sure that a lack of protection played a part (along with learning the offense) in him throwing so many interceptions last season.
Exit Hue Jackson - enter new head coach Dennis Allen; Which brings us back to the future. I won't say that over the past couple of seasons the Oakland Raiders haven't improved their offensive line play. I will (and can) however, say that the unit is still a weak link on the team. The last time I checked a team with a weak offensive line hasn't been called Super Bowl Champions!
So - Who's under pressure you might ask?
Well, for one I'm not going to start with Dennis Allen; He's the head coach, and of course he's under pressure. However, right now were talking about the offensive line. The person under pressure to get the offensive line to perform, at a championship level would be Frank Pollack.
Who's Frank Pollack? Mr. Pollack is the new (1st year in Oakland) offensive line coach. Raider Nation should be familiar with the name; He after all was a member of the Houston Texans staff. All of Raider Nation I'm sure remembers that Houston is where the Raiders got their inspiration AL win last season.
Taking a glance back into the Texans we remember that the team did have a talented offensive line. Eric Winston (now a member of the Chiefs), Wade Smith, Duane Brown, Mike Brisiel (now a member of the Silver & Black), Chris Myers; Individually, they may not have been as formidable.
However, five fingers aren't as formidable as a fist either. The hand guiding that to the fist in Texas was Frank Pollack. Now he's here to bring some of that punch to Oakland.
Raider Nation I'm sure also remembers what Mike Brisiel, and the rest of the Texans offensive line did to the Ravens in their playoff game; For those of you who forgot - here's a taste: Arian Foster (behind the Texans line) ran for buck (100 yards). Moreover, the Baltimore defense (3rd best in the league at getting sacks at that time) couldn't lay a finger on quarterback T.J. Yates (T.J. Yates of all people!!).
It's going to be interesting to see what kind of impact Frank Pollack will have on the Raiders offensive line. However, Frank is not the only new (1st year in Oakland) member of the staff that I'm going to be keeping an eye on. I'm also going to be be watching to see what Al Miller will be bringing to the table.
Al Miller is the strength and conditioning coach. Why did I mention the S&C coach? Simple - If the line is getting pushed around, the pocket is collapsing on the quarterback, no holes for the run game, this all means that something isn't right. Moreover, if the line is too tired at the end of games, ie. can't pick-up the blitz and is getting our quarterback(s) hurt, that also could be viewed as a signal
that something just ain't right.
Part of which could be that the strength and conditioning coach, doesn't know all that much about strength and conditioning. Therefore, we will be watching the teams performance, as it relates to Al Miller.
The coaching staff aren't the only ones who should be feeling some pressure. It's time for the players on the offensive line to step up their game. As I said to you earlier, I know that you've been reading about how everything is new in Oakland.
Well it's time for the new offensive line players to start resembling the old. A Raider tradition has always been to have a dominate offensive line. If the Raiders wish to return to championship form their going to need a stable offensive line. Stability begins at the center position.
As I'm sure you're aware, the Raiders recently added Colin Miller to the team. Colin is about 6'3, and tips the scales at around 300lbs. More importantly, from all the reports I've read on the kid he's got talent. However, I'm not expecting him to be our starting, dominate center.
Raider Nation is also aware of the great job that Stefen Wisniewski has done when he's been placed in the center position. However, the man that I'm expecting BIG things from is the 6'8 315 pound Jared Veldheer.
As I said I know that Raider Nation is aware of the great job that Wisniewski has done
when called upon to play center. However, I would much rather see Wiz II playing left guard; A position that fills a team need, and is one that he's also done a great job of playing.
That leaves Jared Veldheer, who if you check the Raider roster should be the only man listed to play the center position. Jared has been with the Raiders for three seasons now, and I'm sure that I won't be alone in looking to see if Veldheer can (and wants to) return the position to the dominance, and prestige it once held.
Let's hope that Veldheer is ready to take that next step; Which would be forcing Raider Nation to start considering adding his name to the list that has Jim Otto, Dave Dalby, and Don Mosebar written on it.
Raider From Birth.