Historically, when the Oakland Raiders are great, it’s because they have a great offensive line. The championship teams of 1976, 1980 and 1983 as well as the 2002 team that went to the Super Bowl had some of the biggest, strongest, meanest O-linemen of their times. Hence, the reason the power run and deep ball were staples of those great teams.
This year, they have Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson and Marshall Newhouse to remind us of those old groups as they are some of the biggest and strongest in the game today. They’re still elite at pass protection but are now struggling in the run game.
Why is offensive coordinator Todd Downing went to a predominantly zone-blocking scheme is a bit of a mystery. Zone blocking is made for smaller more athletic O-lineman while the bigger guys tend to afit power blocking. This is why the Raiders were ranked No. 6 running the ball last year with Latavius Murray and No. 25 with Lynch as the primary back.
Some say Downing used the zone-blocking scheme to fit Lynch but there’s no need there. Lynch used to beg for power-blocking plays in Seattle and if you look at his best runs in Seattle, they came on powers. And yet as soon as the Raiders got him, Downing inexplicably uses his power-blocking line to zone block. That’s as big a crime as not giving Lynch the ball enough early in the season.
If you look at the 51-yard touchdown run, Osemele pulled from left to right, signifying it was a power. That run helped him to reach his first 100-yard game as a Raider (101 yards).
According to Pro Football Focus, Lynch has only run five power-blocking plays this season and those plays have gone for 77 yards (15.4 yards per carry).
Lynch has done his part all along and is among the league’s leaders in yards after contact and forced missed tackles per attempt. He just wasn’t able to show what he still had until his O-line is started doing what they do best (power blocking). Perhaps Downing should put in more power-blocking plays for his offense.