We all got ended last season faced with the stark realization that this team was a Jenga tower ready to collapse. Derek Carr was that block that was pulled that had the whole thing come crashing down.
In those final two games, it became painfully obvious that there were a lot of weakness on this team. The first place the Raiders looked was free agency, where they focused almost solely on offense. Then come the draft, it was all about the defense. All with the hopes of piece by piece filling all those shaky areas so they could weather the storm should Derek Carr be injured again.
Well, guess what. Here we are again. Carr is out again, this time with a fracture in his back, and the mettle of this team will be tested once again.
Many of the new additions will play a role in how solid this team will be and all we have to go on to prove it is the first four games. Who is the best newcomer so far?
My choice: RT Marshall Newhouse
Before I explain my selection, let’s take a look at the other candidates:
CB Gareon Conley - D-1
Conley had one really great game replacing Sean Smith who was out with a neck injury, but has missed two others with his lingering shin injury that had him out all of training camp and preseason.
TE Jared Cook - FA
My offseason choice. He was the top free agent addition and the best tight end the Raiders have had probably since Zach Miller. Leads the team with 16 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. If he hadn’t dropped that potential game-winning touchdown last week, he’d likely have been my selection.
RB Marshawn Lynch - Trade (SEA)
Marshawn was as advertised in the first two weeks with 121 yards (4.0 yards per carry) and a touchdown, but has fallen off the past two, averaging just 2.0 yards per carry without a touchdown.
QB EJ Manuel - FA
Manuel only played the last part of last week, but could save the Raiders’ bacon while Carr is out. If he does, his candidacy for this recognition is one worth revisiting at the halfway point.
LB Nicholas Morrow - UDFA
Morrow has been a revelation as an undrafted rookie. He has seen the second most snaps at inside linebacker behind Cory James the past few weeks and has held his own.
WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson - FA
An All Pro return man last season for the second time. He has had a couple nice returns so far, but has yet to really break one. He has caught 9 passes on 10 targets for 48 yards with 7 rushes for 69 yards and a TD.
K Giorgio Tavecchio - FA
Tavecchio finally found a spot on the team after 4 times being signed and cut by the team and he’s been flawless on 7 field goal attempts replacing the injured Sebastian Janikowski.
DL Eddie Vanderdoes - D-3
Vanderdoes has looked like a great selection in the third round, though his stats don’t show it. He has just 4 combined tackles (3 solo) with no sacks.
So, as you can see, there are a lot of great choices, though there is no one that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
How I came to my choice...
My choice of Newhouse might come as a surprise to some. It was a surprise to me, to be honest. There are many factors to consider here.
Newhouse came onboard replacing the duo of Menelik Watson and Austin Howard who had rotated at the right tackle spot the past three seasons. Watson left as a free agent and Newhouse’s addition was not only to be the starter, but so the team wouldn’t have to pay Howard another $6 million as an insurance plan.
Both Watson and Howard landed on their feet with the Broncos (3 years, $18 million) and Ravens (3 years, $15 million) respectively — the last and next opponents of the Raiders as it happens — and the Raiders got Newhouse for a fraction of the cost on a 2-year, $3.5 million deal.
Typically, going for a bargain along the offensive line is not Reggie McKenzie’s style. He signed Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson to record deals at their position. This offseason made Gabe Jackson the third highest paid guard and eventually gave Donald Penn the deal he was seeking too.
The thing about Newhouse is Mike Tice is familiar with him, so he comes with that recommendation and enters a good situation for him. The coaching staff didn’t give him the job fully from the start of the season either. But it became apparent pretty quickly that they probably should have.
In that opener, there were two sacks given up. Both of them were on the second drive while Vadal Alexander was in the game for Newhouse. After that, the Raiders wisely stuck with Newhouse and he has held his own.
Through four games, Newhouse has given up just one sack. He has not done well in run blocking — which has had him named a Buster twice — but neither has really any of the offensive line, especially the past two weeks.
What it comes down to is while right tackle was where 7 of the 8 sacks the offensive line gave up last season came from, thus far it is not appearing like the glaring weak area it was before. Despite paying a fraction of the cost at the position they would have for either Watson or Howard. As a result, Pro Football Focus ranked the Raiders the best pass blocking line in football right now.
Let’s hear from you...
Who do you think has been the Raiders best newcomer over the first quarter of the season?
This poll is closed