The Raiders offensive line struggled all season in 2012. They were routinely beaten on the block which resulted in a very little room to run and considerable pressure being put on Carson Palmer.
One of the main culprits of these run stuffs and pressures was newly acquired Mike Brisiel. He was the biggest free agent signing by the Raiders this offseason and coming from a zone blocking scheme in Houston made it all the more odd that he was struggling as much as he was.
Brisiel's primary knock was his inability to stay healthy. He has never played an entire season in the NFL and twice been placed on injured reserve. Reggie McKenzie has said before that injury history is a major concern for him when drafting a player but based on many of his free agent signings last offseason, it doesn't apply across the board.
Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell are two examples of players he signed who had injury histories and both were injured in the first two weeks of the season. Both were placed on IR and Bartell was eventually released. Brisiel played all season but to the detriment of his performance.
"You don't sign guys thinking they're going to get injured," Said McKenzie. "You try to look at the history and go from there. Even with big Mike Brisiel, he had a bad ankle and it got worse and worse. We had to do major surgery here at the end of the season with him. He's going to be working to get back in full.
"(It affected his play) a lot. He couldn't drive off of it like he would like. But he had a bum ankle... It was an ongoing deal. He had a whole lot of nicks throughout the season."
When a team gets to the point where a player is in such bad shape he needs "major surgery", there should have come a time well before that point in which he should have been shut down.
This holds especially true when you have the team's top draft pick waiting for his shot.
"I'm sure [Tony Bergstrom] would have liked to have played more," said McKenzie, "but the (coaching) staff decided to go with the veterans and let them play. I'm not mad at Bergstrom, but I think he was definitely worthy of playing some."
The Raiders spent their very first 2012 draft pick of the new regime on Bergstrom. Granted it was the bottom of the third round but even still, Bergstrom was widely considered the best zone guard prospect in the draft. They may have taken him in the second round had they had a pick in that round.
All the while Bergstrom was playing sparingly and only as a tackle eligible in jumbo packages, Brisiel was struggling on the field with a lingering and worsening ankle injury. It was until the final game of the season that Brisiel was finally sat down in favor of Bergstrom.
The Raiders were long since out of playoff contention and they missed an opportunity to see get Bergstrom some playing time and better evaluate him.
There is every indication that Brisiel will be back next season with the hope he will finally be fully healthy.
Cooper Carlisle was holding down the left guard spot all last season and is a free agent this offseason. If he isn't re-signed, the job will go to Bergstrom. If he comes back, Bergstrom will again have an uphill battle to crack the lineup.