Raiders show cracks in rock-solid line in loss to Redskins

By Nick Shook
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The Raiders rarely give up sacks.

It’s part of why Derek Carr was so excellent in 2016. But because they gave up four sacks and were largely shut down by Washington in a 27-10 loss in Week 3, we’re going get right into it and break down what happened on the sacks.

On the first sack, Washington’s Junior Galette wins via deception.

Anticipating a speed rush on Oakland’s third play of the night, right tackle Marshall Newhouse quickly kicks out of his stance into his pass drop. He’d have won the race to the edge, if Galette had gone there. The edge rusher instead stutter steps, using a head fake to force Newhouse to react (and guess incorrectly) before slanting inside.

Still anticipating the push to the edge, Newhouse has his hips turned completely parallel with the sideline, hindering him tremendously when Galette, still working up field, slants and rushes into Newhouse’s left shoulder. The resulting change in angle forces Newhouse to lose the leverage battle, allowing Galette to struggle through Newhouse and into Carr for the sack.

For a team that rarely allows its quarterback to get dirty, it was especially startling to see Carr go down on back-to-back plays. A look at the end zone film shows why ultra-dependable left tackle Donald Penn(who just recently got a nice boost to his bank account) was beat in a rare moment of poor positioning.

Penn’s pass drop is good as usual, and he engages with a good base beneath him (he did get away with what should have been a hands to the face call), but as outside linebacker Preston Smith ripped inside, he became entangled with Penn, who shifted most of his weight to his rear plant foot. Penn’s ensuing step opened his hips, giving Smith a path to dive toward the feet of Carr, who was brought down from behind for a sack.

The takedowns gave the Redskins a massive early boost, but weren’t indicative of a large problem. Washington also had solid coverage in the secondary on second down, leaving Carr only risky-at-best areas to throw into. He decided against it, avoiding the major mistake in favor of the lesser loss of yards.

Washington kept Oakland’s typically powerful offense off the board in the first half with pressure and coverage combinations like the ones that resulted in the two first-half sacks. Trailing 21-0 in the third quarter, Oakland was forced to throw to catch up. It’s never good when a team is forced to throw.

On the third sack of the night, which came with 10:37 left in the third and immediately after Washington’s third score of the night, Carr finally had a receiver open while under pressure. He just came open a split-second too late.

Carr dropped to pass and stepped up into a pocket collapsing on him like the walls of the trash compactor in Star Wars Episode IV. With Penn and Newhouse getting squeezed into the quarterback, Carr quickly shuffled forward, but right into Ryan Kerrigan, who dominated Newhouse in the leverage battle (thanks to Newhouse standing almost straight up, a cardinal sin for any and every offensive lineman) to a sack of Carr.

This one can be fixed fairly easily: A better bend in Newhouse’s resetting of his feet helps him stymie Kerrigan’s rush, and Carr probably gets this pass off to an open Jared Cook crossing over the middle.

That brings us to our final sack, which was just two plays later. In a play that encapsulated Oakland’s dysfunction on Sunday night, Carr begins by being surprised by a snapped ball, which arrived as he was attempting to make a pre-snap read. Left guard Kelechi Osemele whiffed on the majority of his attempt to engage Jonathan Allen, who won the race to Carr as the rest of the pocket collapsed on the quarterback.

The sack was split between Allen and Matthew Ioannidis, but it’s not on Osemele or right guard Gabe Jackson as it is on center Rodney Hudson for snapping the ball suddenly. The clear indicator was the trio of receivers lined up on the right, who started their routes almost a full second after the snap. The play was doomed from the start.

Washington beat Oakland because it succeeded in edge rushing, and in covering receivers at multiple levels. The loss and four sacks exposed a potential weakness along the line in Newhouse, though it’s not a massive reason to panic for Oakland. This week’s matchup — Denver, home of Von MillerShaquil Barrett and the No Fly Zone — isn’t going to be any easier, though. Here’s to hoping Oakland addressed its problems, for the Raiders‘ sake.


Blocks of the Week


I know it’s only Week 3 (well, now Week 4), but this might be our season winner for nothing more than pure effort. Why does the exotic smashmouth work? Because of guys like Jalston Fowler.

Fowler was part of an excellently blocked play that also included a great pull to lead out front by left tackle Taylor Lewan, a fantastic downfield block from Rishard Matthews and a sustained block on the backside from Taywan Taylor. When coaches teach you to block through the whistle, this is exactly what they mean. It resulted in a 75-yard touchdown run for DeMarco Murray.

Tennessee gets two nominations this week because they flat-out earned it. This screen to Rishard Matthews worked because Lewan and guard Josh Kline (a fellow former Kent State Golden Flash) make the open field blocks to clear a lane for Matthews. The receiver does the rest of the work, including breaking a would-be group tackle before scoring with an escort from everyone’s dreamboat slot receiver, Eric Decker.

Finally, it’s Jacksonville’s punt team, and most notably, fullback Tommy Bohanon. In order for a direct snap fake to work — especially one designed to reach the edge — the closest blocking up man needs to seal the edge. Bohanon does just that on this play.

Bonus credit goes to gunner Peyton Thompson, who sold the play so well, Baltimore’s Tony McRae had no idea it was a fake until the ballcarrier, Jacksonville’s Corey Grant, was literally on top of him.

See a block that you think deserves the spotlight? Submit your nominations with the hashtag #BlocksOfTheWeek and follow Nick Shook on Twitter @TheNickShook

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