Monday night, the Raiders were missing their two starting guards, Richie Incognito and Gabe Jackson. Doubts still lingered about how good Kolton Miller would be at left tackle. And, Oakland was facing a terrific Broncos pass rush that features Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
So Oakland’s offensive line – which surrendered 52 sacks in 2018 – certainly seemed to be the underdog going into the regular-season opener in Denver.
But those blockers up front had a terrific night, protecting Derek Carr – not allowing a single sack – and opening holes for a revitalized running attack that features rookie Josh Jacobs.
The O-line of Miller and newcomer Trent Brown at the tackles, center Rodney Hudson and fill-ins Jordan Devey and Denzelle Good at the guard spots was a key factor in Oakland besting the Broncos to start the season with a victory.
Miller, who battled through injuries and inexperience last season, looked terrific and Brown – signed as a free agent to protect Carr on the right side – did just that.
"We’re having a blast right now," Miller said after the game, according to Levi Damien of SB Nation. "Winning is really fun. We locked it down together and glad we came out with the W."
Now the 1-0 Raiders will host the 1-0 Kansas City Chiefs Sunday (kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.). Head coach Jon Gruden loves what he saw from the line Monday night, but knows it can’t be just a one-game thing. The Raiders blockers must be consistently better than last year if the team wants to contend for the AFC West title.
"After giving up 57 sacks last year or whatever the hell it was, I mean that’s a great accomplishment," said Gruden. "It’s something we hope to continue. We had one great game, you got to really prove that you can do it again and again."
The fact the Raiders did it with backup guards in the lineup, said Gruden, made it even more impressive.
"Those guys deserve some credit," he said.
Incognito is suspended for the first two games of the year and will return for Game 3 against the Vikings on Sept. 22. Jackson, injured in training camp, is reportedly ahead of schedule and could be back on the field sometime between Weeks 4-6.