The Oakland Raiders Week 5 division showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers wasn’t pretty, and will likely go down as a forgettable game for the Silver and Black. From start to finish the offense struggled to put points on the board, finishing the game with some missed red zone opportunities, resulting in a final score of 26-10.
Offensively, the team has a wealth of talent on that side of the ball, but can’t seem to click all at once. Through the first four weeks of the season the Raiders saw at least one receiver finish with 100 yards receiving, but for the first time in 2018 that wasn’t the case. Wide receiver Martavis Bryant came close with 91 yards against the Bolts, but couldn’t hit the century mark. We could discuss the handful of areas the Raiders struggled in Sunday — which Head Coach Jon Gruden wasn’t shy about pointing out during his press conference Monday — but there’s one positive that trumps it all.
“I think there is a lot of good things, honestly, that happened yesterday,” Gruden shared. “The scoreboard was lousy, field position was bad. We gave up some big plays which was not good. Terrible interception in the red zone. There was some negative things that are still resonating with me and Raider Nation. [Tackle] Brandon Parker did some good things. That was his first start in history. I’m proud of what he did.”
Speaking of rookie tackles; have you noticed the productivity of rookie tackle Kolton Miller? Because it’s been noteworthy.
The Raiders first-round pick has been everything the front office expected, and then some, through the first quarter of 2018. In addition to Miller’s contributions, fellow rookie tackle Brandon Parker was impressive in his first career start, allowing just one quarterback hit and three pressures.
“I think he’s playing great,” Gruden said of Miller. “I think he’s doing a lot of great things. I think he has a little soreness in his knee. He’s proven to be tough. He’s won for us in one-on-one pass protection. He’s been a great run blocker. He’s pulled. He’s a rookie, an underclassman out of UCLA. I’m proud of this guy. I love what he’s done. I’m really excited about Parker. I did not expect them to play this well, this fast. Hopefully they continue to improve and stay healthy and maybe they can be building blocks for this franchise for a long time.”
Keep in mind, Miller and Parker aren’t squaring up against no name players either. Through the first five games the Raiders have faced Von Miller, Myles Garrett, Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Melvin Ingram – that’s a loaded group of pass rushers. Fending off the members of that group is a feat not many players are able of accomplishing. Between the players named, they’ve combined for 2.5 sacks when facing the Raiders offensive line.
No one is hiding from the Raiders 1-4 record, but there are still areas on the team that are worthy of receiving some praise, and the play of its rookie tackles is one of them. The future of the offensive line hinges on the success of its rookie duo, and so far they’ve performed better than many thought they would at this juncture. It helps that Miller and Parker have three interior offensive linemen that are established veterans, and their communication might be attributed to their recent success.
The Silver and Black will travel across The Pond for an international battle with the Seattle Seahawks this weekend, we’ll see how Miller and Parker fair against Bobby Wagner and former Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.