There has been a lot of talk lately about the Raiders' blocking. It starts with the offensive line, but it extends well past the big uglies. It is a philosophy that Hue Jackson has preached, and part of the Hue-ism of "building a bully."
"If you don't have a ball on this football team, you're a blocker," said Jackson. "We talk about it all the time. Whether it's a quarterback or anyone else. We gotta play for each other. We pull for each other, we play for each other -- that's one of the things we really talk about. We want to become a team, and in order to become a team everybody has to do their part."
That philosophy showed itself a great deal on Sunday as the Raiders used keys blocks by the offensive linemen, tight ends, and receivers to free up Darren McFadden to gain 171 yards rushing on the Jets.
Jackson lights up when he talks about it.
"It's what it's all about. Those blocks give Darren McFadden an opportunity to score from 70 yards out. They give Denarius Moore a chance to score on a 23-yard reverse. That's what I am building. That's what we're building. Because they're playing for each other. There is a lot of passion that goes into that. We demand that and we're starting to get it. Again, it's still so early in this process, but I think our players are starting to understand what it takes to become a really, really good football team."
Tight end Kevin Boss was the key component in that 70 yard run by McFadden. He sealed the edge on that run to allow McFadden to get into the open field.
"That's something the coaches preach every play," said Boss. "Just finishing every play. We work on it every day in practice, receivers. It's not just the front line, it's receivers, too. It's a team deal, and to be able to see us do it in a game is rewarding, and to knock off 70-yard touchdown runs because everyone is doing their job is pretty fun."
Boss also had a 28 yard catch in the game to set the Raiders up at the two yard line. But according to him, he would much rather set a great block than catch a long pass.
Said Boss: "I think a block like that which sets up a touchdown, I get more joy from a play like that than a catch... I think, for me, coming in to the NFL I was kind of labeled as mostly a pass-catching tight end, and I worked my butt off to be more of a well-rounded tight end, and I think I've gotten to that point, and I feel like blocking has become a strength of mine. It's one of those things that's overlooked often, but to be able to get in there and do some of that dirty work is fun."
This team did the dirty work on Sunday, and it paid off with a victory over a tough defensive team. Everyone got into the act. Derek Hagan was another downfield blocker on that 70 yard run.
"We figure that our man, a DB should not be tackling a running back," said Hagan. "A running back should not have to worry about the DB's tackling them because most of the time when a safety or a corner wants to tackle a running back, they're trying to hit him below his kneecaps and that's something we definitely don't want to happen. So we just try and stay on our man and make sure Darren doesn't have to worry about that."
Darren enjoyed the fine downfield blocking, but he wasn't the only one. Denarius Moore enjoyed a hard block by Samson Satele that freed him up to take the ball 23 yards on an end around for a touchdown. Those kinds of blocks are exciting to see for these Raiders. As they should be. Those kinds of blocks lead to points and wins.
As Hue Jackson said, "Throw to score, run to win."
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I will have my weekly Ballers & Busters up later tonight.