As we all know, play on the interior of the offensive line becomes intense, Players and film portray a close-quarter brawl that tests the mettle and heart of all parties involved. For four quarters, these players will batter each other until one group dominates. For the Las Vegas Raiders, one of the most challenging interior matchups arrives in the form of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 2019, the Bucs posted Top-10 numbers in rush defense, across the board
NT Vita Vea
Granted, Vea, by positional definition, stops the run game. With a massive frame and power to boot, Vea drives blockers backward. If you watch his hands and quads, he generates power from the recoil, stands up the blocker. If Vea gets the opponent vertical, he won. With his power and explosion, the Buccaneers can deploy Vea for roughly two-thirds of the snaps. Yet, to the shock of many, he provides above-average pass rush for a nose tackle. Vea wins with strength, yet will use a brutal chop to disengage. From there, he will close and corral the quarterback. Most importantly, an active Vea frees up linebackers Levonte David and Devin White. White those two playmakers running free, this will wreck the run game and force immediate adjustments.
DE Ndamukong Suh
While he enters the twilight of his career, Suh must see the landscape of his team change. For years, he toiled in Detroit and Miami with less than spectacular teams. After a layover in Los Angeles, he arrives in Tampa. After watching the offense succeed and sputter, life changed. Now, with Tom Brady at the help, Suh could see his fortunes change. Meanwhile, on the field, Suh’s anger-driven approach doesn’t see to waver. While the years of wear and tear took their toll, the flashes of previous brilliance exist. Suh occasionally will flash the ability to best the linemen to first contact. As a result, he controls the action.
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The Raiders Interior
Between Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, and Richie Incognito, the Raiders boast a formidable middle, capable of asserting their dominance. First, Gabe Jackson mauls opponents with a thumping punch. While not the quickest off the ball, he makes up for it with willbreaking power that opens holes and clears passing lanes. Next, Rodney Hudson is the best offensive the player the Raiders have enjoyed over the last decade. He doesn’t surrender many sacks. In fact, Hudson hasn’t given up a sack since 2017. Lastly, while his reputation will follow him, Richie Incognito proved to be an added bonus to the line. Like Jackson, Incognito thrives in close range. Despite his height and frame, he’s better suited for tight, forceful blocking.
While Incognito managed to mostly keep his temper in check last year, the threat of a meltdown always looms large. As mentioned, his history remains a topic. Plus, facing a known hothead in Suh provides the match to any potential incident. Frustration for Incognito must not set in and allow for any extracurricular activity. Suh provokes responses. Whether he gives Derek Carr a little extra punishment could mean an extra flag.
1. Can Vita Vea disrupt the Raiders offense, despite only averaging 46 snaps per game?
2. Additionally, how will Vea deal with a double team of a technical center and either brutish guard?
3. What does Ndamukong Suh still bring to the table in his tenth season?
In reality, many many not watch the mayhem at the line. Yet, the Las Vegas Raiders’ entire offensive gameplan relies on the need to stop the middle of the Bucs’ defense. If the middle three do their job, the Raiders will score points. If not, it will be a long day.
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