Raiders line­men mak­ing a dif­fer­ence

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - — Shayna Rubin, Mer­cury News

ALAMEDA — The Oak­land Raiders were intent on strength­en­ing their of­fen­sive line.

At the sea­son’s on­set, hand­ing 26-year-old Trent Brown the most lu­cra­tive con­tract ever granted to an of­fen­sive line­man in NFL’s his­tory — four years, $66 mil­lion with $36 mil­lion guar­an­teed — cer­tainly em­pha­sized the front of­fice’s pri­or­ity to give quar­ter­back Derek Carr some room to breathe.

Some of­fen­sive line­men donned sweaters that read “Carr In­surance” after prac­tice on Fri­day. They’re on the same page — the hefty in­vest­ment some and pa­tience with oth­ers is start­ing to pay­ing off.

The 5-4 Raiders are set to face the win-less Cincin­nati Bengals on Sun­day a half-game for first place be­hind a Pa­trick Ma­homes-led Kansas City Chiefs team in the AFC West. Carr’s game is start­ing to har­mo­nize with Gru­den’s West Coat Of­fense. PFF ranks his 93.2 pass­ing grade as the third-high­est on cross­ing routes — in other words he is ef­fi­cient in the short pass game built into Gru­den’s of­fense.

In 2018, Pro Foot­ball Fo­cus es­ti­mated the Raiders’ of­fen­sive line the 25th-worst pres­sure rate in the NFL. Head­ing into Week 11 this sea­son, the Raiders have jumped up to the third-best pres­sure rate, per PFF. With Brown on board, the O-line has a 4.4% sack rate, which ranks fourth in the NFL be­hind the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers, Los An­ge­les Rams and Dal­las Cow­boys. Carr has been sacked just 12 times.

“Curve­balls to throw, weight dis­tri­bu­tion, lit­tle things that help a lot,” Raiders tackle Kolton Miller said of Brown’s lit­tle ad­vice nuggets. Along­side Brown, Miller’s made significan­t im­prove­ments. Miller’s fourth-worst 48.2 PFF grade in 2018 has crept up to a 64.3 rank this sea­son, which is about league av­er­age.

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