“It was always a lot of talent, but not a ton of continuity,” Newhouse said in a conference call with Bay Area media. “In the NFL, we all know how hard winning games is. A lot of times we saw the Raiders figure out ways to lose at times. From the outside looking in, that’s what it kind of appeared to [be].”
True, the Raiders went from 2003 through 2015 with nine coaches but without a winning record. Then the script got flipped last year, Oakland going 12-4 and playing in the postseason for the first time since 2002.
“You win some close games and you beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, you play solid football and it’s kind of amazing what that, coupled with talent, ends up happening,” Newhouse said. “I think they’re headed in the right direction.”
Which was a major reason why the unheralded Newhouse, who was not ranked in the ESPN Top 150 free-agent rankings, chose to come to Oakland. Because with Menelik Watson heading to the AFC West rival Denver Broncos, there is the potential to compete with Austin Howard for a starting job at right tackle with the Raiders.
Yes, Newhouse said his “ears perked up” when his agent told him the Raiders had an opening on the O-line. And the Raiders are just as intrigued.
Consider: Newhouse graded out at 69.4 with Pro Football Focus, allowing three sacks and three QB hits and eight hurries in 524 snaps with the New York Giants last season, playing both right tackle (three starts) and left guard (three starts).
Howard, meanwhile, was given a grade of 56.1 by PFF, giving up three sacks, three QB hits and 28 hurries in 792 snaps, while Watson’s PFF grade was 49.4 after giving up three sacks, no QB hits and six hurries in 328 snaps.
“I’m really excited,” Newhouse said. “Kind of a good mix of old and young guys; lots of talent. Obviously, when you’re protecting a quarterback as good as Derek Carr, every lineman wants that opportunity. All those things lined up and [it] was definitely a huge reason why I chose here.”
The division has some elite pass-rushers that Newhouse will have to acclimate himself with, from Von Miller (13.5 sacks last season) with the Broncos to Joey Bosa (10.5) with the Los Angeles Chargers to Dee Ford (10) with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Newhouse said he will embrace the challenge.
“It’s not something you shy from, because they’re there and they’re paid to get sacks,” he said. “They make impact plays and you see it from afar. I came from a team that has two guys like that. So, this division is definitely stockpiled full; we’ve got our own now in Oakland [with Khalil Mack].
“But, yeah, all of those division games are going to be tough, tight games with a lot of elite pass-rushers coming off of the edge. It’s just going to be an onus for me to step up my game.”
And Newhouse is not coming to Oakland without a scouting report, so to speak.
When he was drafted in the fifth round out of TCU by the Green Bay Packers, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was working in Green Bay’s front office.
“I’m excited to see Reggie get his chance,” Newhouse said of the PFWA executive of the year. “He’s kind of already shown what he’s capable of doing in leading a front office, and, yeah, we definitely have a rapport from Green Bay. He knows what I bring to the table, but he also knows that I’ve grown as a player since then.
“I was only 21 when I was there and I’m a few years older now. So, I think it’s a mutually beneficial situation for both of us.”