The Raiders have spent a lot of time playing from behind this season, especially late in games.
And, the Oakland offensive line hasn’t been able to give quarterback Derek Carr the protection he needs to find receivers downfield. The Raiders have allowed 36 sacks this season, tied with the Green Bay Packers for second-highest total in the NFL.
Three of those sacks came Sunday, late in a 34-17 loss to the Ravens in Baltimore.
It’s become a sore point for head coach Jon Gruden.
“We have to pass protect … when everyone knows we have to pass protect,” Gruden told reporters after Sunday’s loss, which drops Oakland to 2-9. “The problem all year is the problem today. When we get into a predictable passing situation, we’ve got to rise up and do better. Credit to (Matt) Judon. … Doggone Judon.”
Judon, a Ravens outside linebacker, had all three sacks on Carr Sunday, giving him six for this season. On all three, he beat rookie right offensive tackle Brandon Parker, who has had a steep learning curve since stepping into the lineup to replace injured veteran Donald Penn.
Wrote the analytic website Pro Football Focus: “Oakland’s offensive line held up well in pass protection for most of this game, but the wheels fell off for right tackle Brandon Parker in the fourth quarter, who surrendered all three of Judon’s sacks.”
The Oakland passing game is often focused on short, quick routes as part of Gruden’s West Coast scheme. It’s also designed to help Carr, who’s taken a beating in 2018.
Rookie left tackle Kolton Miller, the team’s No. 1 pick this spring out of UCLA, also has struggled to protect Carr’s blindside, especially since a knee injury early in the schedule inhibited his quickness, which is one of Miller’s strong points. The strength of the line is in the middle, with center Rodney Hudson and guards Gabe Jackson and Kelechi Osemele. But tackle play has been a weakness.
After Sunday’s loss, Gruden said the Raiders were doomed because his team gave up a punt return for a touchdown, couldn’t stop the Ravens from running the ball, gave up some explosive plays and couldn’t protect Carr at the end of the game.
“Those are the things I got to figure out,” Gruden told reporters. “And until we do, we’re going to have a lot of long faces.”
The Raiders will play host to the 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m.