The Oakland Raiders and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Tony Sparano have reached a new two year contract agreement. Sparano was widely rumored to be joining Lovie Smith's new staff in Tampa Bay, but instead with remain with the Raiders. He joined the silver and black last season in the same capacity and will continue in that role for two more seasons.
There has been much made of how the Raiders would go about signing their assistant coaches after head coach Dennis Allen expressed his desire to have them all back. Sparano is the first to officially sign a deal to return. He did an admirable job with the Raiders offensive line this season, especially with the amount of injuries the team faced at that position. The Raiders lost franchise left tackle Jared Veldheer for 11 games with torn triceps. Center Stefen Wisniewski missed time as well as fellow lineman Tony Pashos, Menelik Watson, Lucas Nix and really anyone Oakland tried to have play along the offensive line.
Injuries clearly ravished Oakland up front. As a result of the injuries and inexperienced back-ups, the Raiders allowed 44 sacks in 2013. Some of that is on quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who would look to extend plays by scrambling. The pass blocking was an issue, but the run blocking was greatly improved. The Raiders rushing attack finished 12th in the NFL averaging 125 yards per game. That was increased from a pathetic 88.8 yards per game in 2012.
Offensive line is a position the Raiders will certainly address in the offseason through the 2014 NFL Draft or via free agency. Their number one priority will be getting Veldheer to sign an extension. Sparano should have some new faces and a healthier group to work with next year.
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