A season in which they averaged just 3.8 yards-per-carry (good for 27th in the NFL) prompted the Oakland Raiders to jettison coordinator Greg Knapp in favor of Greg Olsen. The signing of Olsen represented a shift back to the power running scheme, as well as (hopefully) a return to the lethal Raiders offenses of two years ago.
Olsen, as noted by Shawn Luskey of Gridiron Experts, is known for his explosive ground attacks. In four 0f his six years in Detroit, Tampa Bay and St. Louis, Olsen coordinated offenses that ranked in the top-10 in rushing plays of 50-plus yards. In total, though Olsen’s rushing attacks placed in the top-10 of yards-per-carry only twice, he’s never had a runner with the ability of Darren McFadden.
Unlike Knapp, Olsen is letting McFadden’s ability lead the offense. “What we’ve decided to do, as a staff, is see what Darren McFadden is comfortable doing,” Olsen told the Bay Area News Group. “Let’s try and make it more comfortable for Darren, because he’s one of our premier players.”
In focusing on McFadden’s strength, Olsen is placing the Raiders’ offensive line under a microscope, of sorts. And, in so doing, he’s likely to find more bad than good.
With the exception of Stefen Wisniewski, the Raiders’ offensive linemen struggled mightily. While a portion of blame can be assigned to scheme, an equal portion can be assigned to players — especially Cooper Carlisle and Mike Brisiel.
Carlisle, of course, is no longer with the team, but Brisiel sure is. In fact, Brisiel has been lining up at right guard with the starting unit during this offseason’s various camps — which is disconcerting given that in addition to dismally low yards-per-carry, Brisiel committed 10 penalties and allowed 31 total pressures.
Currently, it doesn’t appear that Brisiel’s position in the starting lineup is being contested, according Steve Corkran.
Tony Bergstrom is back at left guard with the first-team offense. That appears to be the only OL spot in question.
— Steve Corkran (@CorkOnTheNFL) June 13, 2013
But, the Raiders are not without options. Though he played only game at right guard last season, Lucas Nix may have proven to be a much better option than Brisiel.
Again, the sample size is much to small to draw any definitive conclusions, but given how well McFadden and company faired with Nix at right guard, it stands to reason that Nix could do no worse than Brisiel. In fact, Brisiel’s struggles alone warrant an opportunity for Nix to start at right guard. Which is to say, give Nix a chance.