The offensive line is a unit that doesn't get much press, especially now that the modern football era revolves around athletic playmakers, and the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. This past Sunday, the Oakland Raiders overcame a 14-point deficit on the road, battled through injuries, and closed out a tightly contested game with a win against the New Orleans Saints.
NFL.com named the Raiders offensive line the "Offensive Line of the Week," in large part for their ability to battle through adversity. After right tackle Menelik Watson went down in the second quarter with an apparent groin injury, the team suffered another blow with a knee injury to backup right tackle Matt McCants.
The injuries to both players put the Silver and Black in a difficult situation, considering fellow backup tackle Austin Howard has been out with an ankle issue, leaving him unavailable. Head Coach Jack Del Rio and offensive line coach Mike Tice were forced to find a quick solution, and decided to place left tackle Donald Penn at right tackle – his first time playing the position in 15 years – and shifted left guard Kelechi Osemele to left tackle.
Most notably, even with all the position changes and injuries, the offensive line didn't allow quarterback Derek Carr to get sacked all game. Carr was able to operate in the pocket and lead his team to victory in thrilling fashion. Changing roles or positions can be an uncomfortable feeling for players, and the offensive line's ability to adapt to their surroundings shouldn't be underappreciated.
Coming into the 2016 season, the offensive line gained a lot of attention, and according to many
NFL analysts was regarded as arguably one of the best in the league. The Raiders certainly proved on Sunday that they are able to be a force on the front lines, and grind out games in order to win. It's unclear how long Watson, McCants, and Howard will be out, but the Raiders versatile offensive line should continue to be a dominant force as the season progresses.