Watch out society, it is happening again. Vacate the streets, lock the doors, shut the blinds, have 9-1-1 on speed dial because the moment you have all been dreading has arrived. I can smell the sulfur emitting from my pores, hot and foul, cascading up to the sky and amassing into a giant slime green cleat, pummeling the ozone layer into submission. Carbon footprint? Hell no. Call it a carbon curb stomp. Unfortunately for all, it gets worse. Starting in my lower intestine is a vial strain, a locomotive of muck that rushes violently upward through my digestive tract before blasting out of my esophagus like a geyser, spewing toxic ink so slick and venomous that bystanders become deaf upon impact, leaving their eardrums encased in black and ruptured beyond recognition. My dear neighbors, piercing your Sunday skies and becoming the sorcerer of plagues was never a goal of mine as a child, never a dream scribbled in a notebook, never a wide eyed fantasy borrowed from the worn pages of a comic book. I find myself asking, what is the source of this sin? Who are the maestros of this madness? Where are these executioners of ecstasy? The answer is all too simple: they play in Oakland and call themselves an offense line.
What started out as a somewhat encouraging turnaround, the Oakland Raiders’ offensive line has retreated to the familiar band of ineptitude. This past Sunday, the Raiders allowed the Washington Redskins, a team whose defense was exceptionally abysmal in the weeks prior to facing the Raiders, resulting in an 0-3 record, a field day with seven sacks. Seven! Having Matt Flynn, the kind of guy who searches for personality on Porn Hub, take snaps didn’t help in the slightest. The presumed starter for the season, turned backup, turned life sized weeble wobble, was at his slow and tepid best. Flynn and the Raiders had a golden opportunity, up 14-0 in the first quarter to take the game to the Redskins and head coach Mike Shanahan. But instead of capitalizing and turning Shanahan’s face from Boehhner blush to Mars sediment, the former Broncos coach had his defensive line bully the line of scrimmage and inspire 24 unanswered points in what would be their first win of the season.
Khalif Barnes, Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Brisiel, Tony Pashos and the men who fill in when they need a breather, must improve if the Raiders want any chance at success this year. In the season opener against the Colts, the line was surprisingly competent, committing few penalties and providing adequate protection for Terrelle Pryor. But upon closer inspection, one can make the case that Pryor did not frequent the ground several times because of his mobility.
For what its worth, run blocking is not looking so hot either. On 53 carries before leaving the Redskins game through injury, Darren McFadden had 215 yards on the ground and 2 touchdowns. His biggest performance came against Jacksonville, understandably, with 129 yards on the ground, and his weakest performance was a nine yard stinker in Denver on Monday night. This may be indicative of the opponent, but that is no excuse in professional football. Rashad Jennings attempted to fill the void with 45 yards on 14 attempts rushing. Not surprising for Raider fans, the team’s best offensive weapon is Terrelle Pryor whose 198 yards on the ground in three games, has inspired the team to 6th in the league for rushing. Yet while many may argue that this is Pryor advancing the play, his absence last Sunday showed that he is embolden to get those yards because the protection is faulty, even when the opposition is not launching bodies forward.
This past Sunday, Washington recorded only one sack when sending more than four rushers. Five out of that seven came about when a mano-a-mano, four-man rush was delivered and embarrassingly enough, one three man rush resulted in a Matt Flynn eating the Coliseum grass/dirt. The main grievance was Pashos, whose duty at right tackle was constantly harassed by Ryan Kerrigan and Barry Cofield. Coincidentally, the Redskins knew to exploit this weakness since it was Pashos who joined the Raiders after being cut by the Redskins earlier this year. You don’t need to be Miss Cleo to predict that the veteran got obliterated in those practices.
When the Raiders host the Chargers late Sunday night, San Diego will be using a 3-4 defense and probably employ a spy mechanism to monitor Pryor’s movements. Nonetheless, the Raiders should prepare for more blitz packages than what they saw against Washington, so they will need to improve vastly in maintaining the pocket. The Chargers are a surprise this season at 2-2 and becoming the talk around the league, but this team is nothing special defensively. The Chargers rank 30th in total defense (432.2 ypg): 29th in passing (311.8 ypg), 25th in rushing (120.5 ypg) and 22nd in points allowed (25.5). That is not prideful. They can be exploited and if Tony Sparano inspires his men to simply do their job, the Raiders can put up points and diffuse the Bolts.
For the sake of the Raiders record, the line needs to play big in this game. It is obvious that because of injuries, this current group is not ideal. But let’s not lean on that as an excuse for poor play. The Chargers have 9 sacks on the season, but are not exactly lethal. Hitting them hard right at the line of scrimmage will show us what the Raiders and their 0-line are made of.
The last thing I want do late Sunday night is bring down a hailstorm of unrelenting shame, so please offensive line, for the sake of everyone in the East Bay and throughout Raider Nation, play 60 minutes of intelligent, bruising football.
You can follow Jeremy Ghassemi on Twitter @Jermg11