The Raiders defense, lead by its massive defensive line, sacked Kyle Orton five times and held the Broncos to 38 yards rushing during their Monday Night Football opener. To describe the performance of the defensive line as anything other than dominant would be a crime.
In fact, all of the penetration into the backfield by the Raiders defensive line was a major reason why the Raiders did not look like they missed Nnamdi Asomugha too much on Monday night.
This week, the leader of the Raiders defensive line, and entire defense for that matter, Richard Seymour, has missed a lot of practice and is listed as questionable for the game on Sunday. One might think that this would be devastating news for the Raiders, but thanks in large part to Seymour, the Raiders have possibly the best depth at d-line in the NFL.
Behind Seymour at the defensive tackle position are Tommy Kelly, Big John Henderson and the Beast with the Brain, Desmond Bryant (my own nickname for the Harvard graduate).
Every since Seymour arrived in Oakland, Kelly has turned into the dominant force the Raiders thought he would be when they gave him a huge contract. Since signing with the Raiders, John Henderson has gone from being considered done in the league to being a force in run defense. Finally, un-drafted free agent Desmond Bryant has become one of the better up and coming defensive tackles in the league.
The solid corps of middle lineman, working with future pro bowlers Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Huston easily make the Raiders defensive lines one of the best in the NFL. On Sunday, they will look to bring Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick back to reality after his four touchdown effort in week one.
In that game against the Chiefs, Fitzpatrick was only sacked once and was able to sit in the pocket and look for deep options. Against the Raiders, he will not have that freedom. Expect the Raiders defense to be in Fitzpatrick’s face all day long, while also shutting down the Bills slightly above average running game.
After years of games turning on the Raiders secondary, this year, it will be the defensive line that defines the Oakland Raiders.