On this morning's Rise Guys broadcast on Bay Area radio stations 95.7 The Game, they had NFL analyst Adam Caplan for an interview. Caplan criticized, among other things, the Raiders' offensive line. One of the reasons he cited for their poor play is Mike Brisiel being a bad fit for the Raiders' scheme.
Brisiel was brought to the Raiders with the largest contract of any new Raiders free agent signee two off-seasons ago. He was coming over from the Texans where they use the zone blocking scheme exclusively. At the time, the Raiders were deploying the zone blocking scheme as well under then offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp.
Following last season's poor running game and less than ideal offensive performance depite over 4000 yards from Carson Palmer, Knapp was fired and replaced by Greg Olson and offensive line coach Keith Pollack was replaced by Tony Sporano. And with that change came the power blocking scheme.
That has led to criticisms such as Caplan had that Brisiel is not a good fit and therefore part of the reason the line has struggled along the interior this season. Dennis Allen scoffs at that notion.
"He's an offensive lineman," Allen said of Brisiel. "He understands we've done a couple of different things schematically and we've asked him to do different things. But he's played a long time in this league and he's done a great job for us. He's tough, he's physical and that's what we're looking for in our offensive line."
Brisiel has been known for playing hurt since he arrived in Oakland. His ankle gave him problems all last season and his play suffered because of it. He has been much better this season but his aches and pains are clearly taking their toll on him each week.
"He's a warrior, he's a real pro," Said Allen. "Listen that's what you look for in a player in the National Football League, and really specifically with an offensive lineman. You want a tough, nasty guy that you have to pull him off the field to get him off the field. He's done a great job for us. He's been a guy that, especially with some of the injuries that we've faced on the line, he's been a little bit of the glue of keeping that thing together. I have a lot of respect for guys like that, that come out every day no matter what the obstacles they face. They come out every day and compete. He's played well for us."
There is no question the Raiders have struggled with interior blocking. Greg Olson said on Thursday that the Raiders ran the ball so much in the second half against the Steelers last week because he wanted to "gut them" and thought the Raiders were capable of doing it. But after getting just 15 yards on 15 carries, it is clear the Raiders offensive line wasn't helping make that happen.
The results thus far have not spoken highly of Brisiel as the answer. Then again he is just part of a larger puzzle so it might not be fair to put the blame on him. The Raiders have nine more games this season to figure that out.