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Oakland Raiders News, 10-03-07: First Quarter Grades Are "In": Offensive Line

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When Lane Kiffin took over the reigns of the Oakland Raiders he professed, after watching countless hours of film, that the Offensive Line was a strength.

Many from outside the organization and even fans inside the organization scoffed at the wet behind the ears coach. They thought, "Was he watching the same team we all were?"

Well, after the first quarter of the season, we are seeing that he was quite correct.

In 2006 the players were in a scheme which they could not succeed in.

There were three coaches telling them what to do and there was no cohesion as well as some terrible scheming.

Enter young Dartanyan and his group of cast-offs, Tom Cable and Greg Knapp.

First, they signed two players, Cornell Green and Cooper Carlisle, who were experienced in Denver's offensive line scheme. Then they worked at putting the remaining players from 2006 in positions that maximized their abilities under the new  "Zone Blocking Scheme".

For those of you unfamiliar with the Denver offensive line scheme, they use a technique known as "zone blocking". In a "man" or "drive" blocking scheme the lineman is responsible for an individual, and the play is designed for a running back to hit a particular gap. The zone blocking scheme, on the other hand, has a lineman blocking an area instead of a designated defensive player. If multiple linemen are blocking an area than one can break off and block into the second level.

This new blocking scheme has led to the #1 rushing offense in the NFL through the first 4 weeks and our QB's have been sacked at a much lower rate than last year as well.

It is difficult NOT to give this group an A+, but let's look at them individually:

Tom Cable A+

Tom Cable's offense in Atlanta led the NFL in rushing in 2006, and what did their offensive line coach receive?.....A Pink slip!!!...From the same coach that the Raiders...ahem...Mike Lombardi=NOT AL DAVIS...(Now of Denver Fame)...Courted...Bobby Petrino!!!.

Thank You Bobby and Lombardi!!!

Well, their loss is our gain, IN A BIG WAY.

From the beginning of camp the offensive linemen have said how happy they are to have ONE COOK IN THE KITCHEN and it really shows with the way they are manhandling the defensive lines they have faced, so far.

Barry Sims B

Barry Sims was moved back to his original Left Tackle position and he has had a solid year to this point.

In fact, he has gotten better every week as the line continues to gel.

With he and Gallery teamed up on the left side of the line, it is no wonder that the running backs are getting HUGE chunks of yardage when they run left.

Robert Gallery A-

Robert Gallery is finally in a healthy scheme and he is paying dividends.

After years of revolving coaches, positions and schemes many in the NFL see that Robert Gallery has taken that next step and is having a Pro-Bowl season.

He has been the most dominant of any of our linemen thus far and he, like Sims, keeps getting better every week.

I love seeing him run push around D-Linemen like they are Pop-Tarts!!!

Jeremy Newberry A

If the Niners knew that Jeremy Newberry would be this dominant again, they would have never let him go.

After wasted year after wasted year, due to knee injuries and surgeries, Jeremy looks like the Newberry of old again.

He did suffer a setback in his first series of the year, but he was able to recover from a hamstring injury in time to start and DOMINATE against the Dolphins.

He played for cable in college, at Cal, and he played under Knapp in SF, so he has become a leader on this team instantly.

He knows what the coaches want to do, and he is a big reason that the trabsition has been as quick and smooth as it has.

Cooper Carlisle A

They say that the sign of a great offensive lineman is that you never here his name called. Well, if that is the case, then Cooper Carlisle is our best lineman, so far.

We stole him from Denver, where he'd started 36 consecutive games, and inserted right into the Left Guard spot immediately.

All he has done is quietly do his job and solidify a lone that was much maligned last season.

Cornell Green C+

If there is a weak link on the O-Line it would be Cornell Green.

He earned the starting spot in camp, mainly because he knows the system.

It seems that if someone is getting beat or false starting, 6 out of 10 times it is Cornell.

It is probably just a matter of time until someone, Jake Grove, Chris Morris or Paul McQuistan takes his place.

Jake Grove A-

Jake Grove had his best game against the Browns.

He controlled a man, Ted Washington, who outweighs him by a good 80 pounds.

He stepped in right away for Newberry, when he was injured and did a good job. For a second stringer, I have to give him an A-.

Zack Miller A

When the Raiders Drafted Zach Miller I was ecstatic about his potential as a receiver.

I thought, "Here comes the next Todd Christenson!!!

Little did I know, that he would be one of the main reasons that our run game is #1 in the League.

If you watch our runs closely, you will usually see, #80, sealing off the left or right ends.

The offensive line as a whole is the main reason I am excited about this team in 2007.

Go Raiders!!!!