No Running Game, No Pass Protection, No Win

Jason Campbell or Bruce Gradkowski? The question is worn out and it doesn’t matter than much unless the offensive line can block. They both have deficiencies and strengths.

Most solid NFL quarterbacks can have at least moderate success when they get time to throw. That includes about 20 starting NFL quarterbacks. Bruce Gradkwoski and Jason Campbell would qualify.

On Sunday, Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski had very little chance to have success. The offensive line was not capable of blocking the Steelers pass rush.

Campbell was sacked four times and Gradkowski twice and the offensive line allowed ungodly amounts of pressure.

The Raiders have given up 3.8 sacks per game in losses and 2.6 sacks in wins. The Raiders have won just one game when giving up four sacks, that was at home against Kansas City.

How have the Raiders been successful? Running the ball.

Darren McFadden or Michael Bush have rushed for over 100 yards in every Raiders victory with the exception of week nine against Kansas City.

The two Raiders backs have averaged 78.8 yards per game rushing in losses and 146.8 yards in wins. That’s a staggering difference that can’t possibly be explained by the Raiders rushing to hold big leads.

When the Raiders can run the ball, they can keep the pass rush to a minimum. Play action play a part as well as just a threat to run. Running the ball effectively keeps the ends from going into pass rush only mode and the opposition’s defensive coordinator calling blitzes constantly.

The instant the defense knows the Raiders will pass, the protection disappears.

The problem is primarily the right side. Langston Walker and Cooper Carlisle are good run blockers, but terrible pass blockers. Samson Satele has his issues from time to time and far too often to be comfortable.

For a rookie, Jared Veldheer is doing okay, with occasional mistakes. When Robert Gallery is struggling you know the line is in trouble. Perhaps Gallery’s injury history is getting the best of him.

When the Raiders find better pass blockers, the Raiders might have more success passing the ball. Right now, the Raiders will live and die by the running game.

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