Raiders right tackle Marshall Newhouse has officially been ruled out for Thursday’s home game against the hated Kansas City Chiefs. This opens the door for back up tackle Vadal Alexander to take the field at the position. Poor play had his previous outing last a whole 9 snaps.
“Well, he’s started.” Head coach Jack Del Rio said after practice Wednesday. “He’s playing well. We’re a next man up outfit. Vadal Alexander, he’ll be the guy that will start there. We believe in Vadal. He’s part of the battle there. He started last year a couple of games for us. We’ll be ready to roll.”
Del Rio’s confidence is either a coach trying to talk a player up or an indication that he has been practicing well. Let’s hope that it is the later because his tape from his last outing does not show a player who is “playing well”.
The scheme the offensive line is being asked to run does not fit their physical capabilities. That falls on the coaching staff. However since this is the base running play of the offense this season it is worth noting the Alexander struggled in it. He is unable to reach the 3 technique and gives up a run stuff to start the offensive series. This is a microcosm of the Raiders offensive difficulties, the round pegs are not fitting into the square holes.
We can grade him on his pass blocking in this game though. If this was a test in school, Raiders offensive line coach Mike Tice would have given him the ‘see me after class’ many of us are familiar with.
Alexander played just 9 snaps in the opener — 5 of which were pass blocking snaps in which he was either fully or partially responsible for two sacks. In the other 4 run plays he gave up one stuff. Three of his five pass blocking snaps he allowed a pressure. Even the completion to wide receiver Michael Crabtree would have ended in a sack if the ball did not come out as quick as it did.
So how does this affect the offense going into this game against Kansas City? Well, not good. As PFF points out, Kansas City uses physical man coverage to force the quarterback to both hold onto the ball longer and throw into tight windows. That could present a real problem.
The Raiders are going to be forced to chip for Alexander or keep a back in to pass protect if chipping doesn’t suffice. If they continue their trend of going empty, the ball will have to come out of Derek Carr’s hand quickly.
As we discussed, the Chiefs coverages are designed to prevent those quick passes. The resulting pressure on the quarterback tends to lead to turnovers. Those turnovers have been key to the Raiders struggles this last month. In 3 of the 4 losses the team has suffered, the offense has turned the ball over on their opening drive.
Carr threw interceptions on the second offensive plays in the losses to Washington and the LA Chargers. Tight end Jared Cook had his fumble recovered and returned for a touchdown on the third offensive snap in the loss to the Baltimore Ravens. This cannot happen against this Chiefs team if the Raiders want to have any chance to win the game.
The struggling Raiders are about to face their toughest challenge so far this season. They will be doing so with a big question mark on the right side of their offensive line. If Kansas City can exploit this weakness it will be a long night for quarterback Derek Carr.