Being without Kelechi Osemele for the Raiders game against the Steelers in week 14 didn’t prove to be a huge deal. Utility reserve Jon Feliciano stepped up and filled in admirably. Then Feliciano was lost to a knee injury. At the same time Gabe Jackson suffered an elbow injury. Being without Osemele, Jackson, and Feliciano proved to be too much. The Raiders offensive line was a sieve that sunk the Raiders.
This will continue to be a major problem over the final two games should Osemele and Jackson not make it back. From the sounds of it, there is a real possibility they won’t.
“We are very hopeful that KO can come back and be our left guard although you have to be realistic, not just hopeful. This is a serious toe injury for him to maneuver on,” said Gruden on Monday. “Gabe Jackson is suffering form a very legitimate elbow injury and it’s hard to block people when you can’t extend your arm. We’re concerned, obviously.”
While Gruden lauded replacements Chaz Green and Denzelle Good for filling in on short notice, adding “they did do some good things yesterday,” there is no denying the significant drop off not just in talent but in how well they worked in the scheme and the game plan.
The run suffered as did pass protection, most notably facing All Pro Geno Atkins who put up a career-high three sacks. The Bengals had lost five straight coming in, and were starting a backup QB, so this was definitely a winnable game. At least it would have been had the Raiders not lost their top three guards bang, bang, bang.
The Broncos have their issues too, but won’t be any easier with the likes of Domata Peko, Derek Wolfe, and Adam Gotsis on their interior defensive line. They’re licking their chops at the thought of facing the Raiders offensive line as currently constructed.