When the Oakland Raiders played the Houston Texans in Mexico City earlier this year, the Raiders only managed to gain 30 yards on the ground despite running the ball 20 times. That averaged 1.5 yards per carry and was a major reason why the Raiders were dominated by the Texans for the majority of that game.
And the major reason the Texans were able to hold them to 30 yards rushing is Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney was in the backfield harassing running backs from the very start of the game. He single handedly threw Oakland off of their game plan throughout the first half. The offense was at its best right before half time and right before the end of the game when they were forced to throw the ball due to time constrictions.
But in that game, Oakland had Derek Carr there to work his two minute drill magic for them. On Saturday, Oakland can’t expect Connor Cook to save them in the waning seconds of the game. If the Raiders want to win, they need to get a strong run game going. If they want to get a strong run game going, they have to find a way to contain Jadeveon Clowney.
The Raiders have invested heavily in their offensive line specifically for times like this. Jack Del Rio is the kind of head coach who wants to run the ball down the opposition’s throat. What we saw against Denver in their first game was Del Rio’s ideal performance.
Now, Del Rio needs his highly touted offensive line to repeat that performance but against the Texans. He needs Donald Penn to brag about how they ran the same play ten times in a row and the Texans couldn’t stop them. He needs Kelechi Osemele running a pancake factory on the left side of the line.
But most of all, he needs his big men up front to stop Jadeveon Clowney.