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Raiders' offensive line faces big test vs. Ravens

Las Vegas’ offensive line questions will be answered quickly Week 1.

Seattle Seahawks v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders offensive line changes are a regurgitated topic for the fan base. Moving on from big names at the position will create controversy and questions about the vision going forward.

The identity of the silver and black offense is the running game. Josh Jacob's selection in the first round displays the vision of what they want to be on offense.

In 2020, the team struggled to rush the football. The offense faltered into the abyss by the end of last season, finishing 24th in football outsiders DVOA. The offensive line was 27th in run block win rate, according to ESPN.

This issue pushed the Raiders to move on from Gabe Jackson while Trent Brown was just laziness. Both of these moves forced Hudson to ask for his release, which most didn’t believe was part of their offseason plan.

Andre James took over at center, unproven, and didn’t have the best start versus the Lions. The team believes in James and paid him a starting center salary.

2021 NFL draft continued the overhaul of the position group by adding Outland trophy winner Alex Leatherwood. Leatherwood was considered the best-run blocker in the draft and helped day one in that department.

James and Leatherwood put together strong preseasons mixed with John Simpson, starting because of Injury to Richie Incognito.

Now it is time to show in prove with the Raiders facing the dangerous Baltimore Ravens defense. The Ravens send blitzes 55% of the time, which led the NFL last season. Don Martindale dials up every blitz in the book with unique stunts that confuse the best offensive lines in the league.

Here is beauty against the Cleveland Browns that led to an interception by Baker Mayfield. The corner from the slot will be blitzing while the linebacker drops into the flat. There is a stunt combined with the blitz from the left side of the defensive line(right from the end zone view). The quick pressure forces Mayfield to rush it, causing an interception.

On this one, Martindale creates five on three matchups versus the Browns offensive line. He sends a corner from the slot position while the two players on the right drop into coverage. Since Mayfield doesn’t see the blitz pre-snap, Kareem Hunt blocks the middle linebacker. The corner now has a free lane to QB.

These designs will put the offensive line to the test. In preseason we saw the Raiders have communication issues facing the blitz. The difference will be Derek Carr, who has a specialty of avoiding sacks over his career. His pre-snap abilities will put the offensive line in positions to succeed. It will be up to them to make the blocks after the snap.

The running game will be their calling card, of course. These moves were made for Josh Jacobs to improve and take his game level. Hopefully, it leads to more push which can minimize third and longs and allow the offensive line to avoid challenging situations.

It doesn’t get any easier with the travel to Pittsburgh next week on deck. We will find out if they are ready to play with the big boys quickly.