The Oakland Raiders lost to a Cincinnati Bengals team that was led by it’s backup quarterback and that was without it’s best player in AJ Green. But that’s not the story of the day.
Yes, it was bad that one week after upsetting the Steelers, the Raiders came out flat against the Bengals. Yes, this was a game that the Raiders could have won if not for the fact that they shot themselves in the foot numerous times. But no, that’s not what I want to talk about.
This game is over and the season was already a wash long before playing the Bengals. Was the loss painful? Yeah. But what was far more painful was watching first round pick Kolton Miller get used and abused by the Bengals defensive line.
I came into the game worried about the interior of the offensive line but left it worried about the future of left tackle.
The Raiders were starting two backup guards against one of the best defensive tackles in the league in Geno Atkins but the story of the day wasn’t interior pressure, it was the constant pressure Carr felt coming from the edge rushers Kolton Miller was tasked with blocking.
The performance was bad but it’s made worse by the fact that Miller, who has been struggling with injuries this season, was finally getting healthy in the lead up to this game. He was practicing without a knee brace and had looked far more agile the past few weeks.
So as the season winds down and the Raiders prepare for what will be a very important offseason, we’re looking at a team where the offensive line might be the single biggest problem. That despite a defense that can’t rush the passer and despite the immense amount of money being spent on the middle of the line and despite spending two high picks on offensive tackles in this past draft.
While we don’t know how Miller will pan out, whether it’s as a bust or a stud, only time will tell. But what we do know now, as the 2018 season winds down, is that the Raiders desperately need the offensive line to play better next season. Whether that means improvement from the rookie tackles or through new players being added to team, one thing is for sure: Without a dramatic improvement in play by the offensive line, 2019 could be just as painful as 2018.