By Kevin Kietzman
In a recent piece in ESPN the magazine, it was revealed that former Chiefs center Rodney Hudson is the closest friend on the Raiders to quarterback Derrick Carr. The two text constantly, watch film together and are occasionally caught off guard by one another when away from football, when the other reaches out to talk about a play or scheme.
It’s great copy.
The story does mention that Derrick Carr is a gifted quarterback and has the Raiders in first place. But the crux of the whole thing is that the Raiders spend more on their offensive line than any other team in football and that’s the reason this Carr is good and his brother David was not. You know, build an offensive line and the game is easy, right?
Of course, that doesn’t explain why Tony Romo could never stay upright and why the Cowboys have moved away from passing the ball to running it and playing defense. Their O-line is considered by many to be better than Oakland’s.
And so we see two fine teams line up and play for the AFC West at Arrowhead Thursday night. The Raiders with their massive O-line, young gunslinger and receivers against the Chiefs and the most important secondary in football. KC has focused on playmakers in space on offense that can fly after catching short passes and playmakers in the secondary that will break your heart. The Raiders have gone a more traditional route. The first game wasn’t close, 26-10, Derrick Carr foiled again by the Chiefs.
Actually the most memorable part of the ESPN story was the little known (but interesting) fact that the Raiders massive, expensive offensive line is comprised of all African American players. That’s pretty rare in the NFL. The line was so good against the Broncos earlier this year, the Raiders actually called the exact same running play 10 times in a row and averaged over 6 yards per carry during that stretch. Very impressive.
The point of all this? Well, if the Raiders line is really that good Thursday, they should be able run the ball at will. And even the Chiefs hawkish defense gets picked apart when QB’s have a lot of time to throw. Maybe the Raiders O-Line is the most important part of this game. Goodness knows half the fans out there believe that you can only win with great offensive line play. But it doesn’t explain how the Raiders only scored 10 on the Chiefs earlier this year and it doesn’t explain the roller coaster that is the Raiders offense. Oakland was awful for nearly 3 quarters last week against the Bills and just exploded to a 14 point win. They were pedestrian against the Texans a few weeks ago, and the Panthers. For long stretches. And then Derrick Carr and America’s second favorite team just bust out and go crazy.
I have to believe if the Raiders struggle for two plus quarters at Arrowhead, there won’t be enough drives left to come back. The Raiders like high scoring games and figure they can score once more that you. The Chiefs have played three teams this year that like to do it that way and they’ve beaten them all. San Diego, Oakland, Atlanta. Win, win, win. But hey, those offensive lines were great in those games.
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