Second in a series analyzing players on the 2010 Raiders that need to step up their game for the Raiders to become a playoff team.
Anchoring the Line
There has been much talk about Mario Henderson’s spot at left tackle. There is no doubt Henderson needs to do a better job protecting the quarterback’s blind side. Left tackle is the glamour position on the offensive line, but the center is the hinge that enables the door to slam in the face of the defensive line.
The center doesn’t have to be the best run blocker, pass blocker or the most physical. Those things are helpful, but what the center must do is be in position and keep the other lineman in the correct position. To extend the analogy, the center is the hinge that keeps the door swinging and moving within a door frame. A bad hinge prevents the door from shutting properly and allows objects to pass through it.
Samson Satele enters 2010 as an uncontested starter along with Robert Gallery and Henderson. The improvement of which will be watched very closely.
The Raiders openly wanted Russell Okung or Trent Williams in the draft. That isn’t to knock Rolando McClain, but the Raiders knew the biggest weakness was the offensive line. If there was a value pick on the offensive line in the second round the Raiders may have taken the opportunity.
The Raiders did address the line, drafting Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell in the third and fourth rounds. Both have the potential to be starters, but are raw and may take a year or two to blossom.
What does this have to do with Satele? Satele will be the field general of the biggest weak spot on the 2010 roster.
Satele needs to be masterful for the Raiders to have any shot at the playoffs. He needs to bring the young guys along, coordinate new players, raise the game of the veterans and improve his own play. No small task.
The coaches appeared much happier with Satele late in the year, during the time when Henderson floundered and Gallery was injured. Will Henderson improve, Gallery be healthy and Satele continue his solid play? The Raiders are hoping the answer to all three is yes.
If Satele or the rest of the line fall flat, there is good chance the Raiders falter once again. Without elevated line play, the quarterbacks will almost certainly get injured. Can the Raiders win games behind the arm of Kyle Boller or Charlie Frye? Probably not.
When Jamal Williams left the Chargers, the offensive lines in the AFC West would have celebrated if he hadn’t signed with the Broncos. Williams is still talented nose tackle, but with a history of injuries. The Chargers will replace Williams with Ogemdi Nwagbuo and fifth-round pick Cam Thomas. The Chiefs have a variety of options at nose tackle, none are very good.
The competition for Satele shuffles around, but doesn’t significantly change this year. He will know the opponents and will need to prove to the Raiders that letting injury prone Jack Grove sign with Miami two seasons ago wasn’t a mistake.
Step up your game Samson Satele, for your unit will be one of the most important one to the success of the 2010 Raiders.