The Raiders are finally coming home for their 2011 season opening game. Following a depressing loss on the road in Buffalo, Oakland will be looking to impress a sellout crowd at the O.co Coliseum. They face a daunting task in the New York Jets – a team that has been in the AFC Championship in each of the last two seasons. However, they are also a team that relies on their ground game and thus far, they have not gotten it done on the ground and are currently ranked 28th in the NFL. Let’s take a closer look at some of the storylines surrounding the Jets at Raiders game this weekend.
Looking for an identity
Ironically enough, the Raiders seem to be the team that knows what they are this year as the Jets continue to search for their offensive identity. Despite having Brian Schottenheimer as an offensive coordinator since the Eric Mangini days, it seems now that the Jets are more lost on offense than ever before. Or perhaps they just know that their running game is good, and they want to work on passing early in the season so it is there later in the year when they need it. However, there is a chance the Shonn Greene is not all he is cracked up to be – the same player that allowed the Jets to show Thomas Jones and Leon Washington the door a couple of years ago.
For the weapons they have in the passing game, the Jets are only ranked thirteenth in the league in passing yards. Give Tom Brady receivers like Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Derrick Mason and see if he doesn’t break Dan Marino’s passing record in week five. What I’m getting at is that Mark Sanchez is not the reason why the Jets are 2-0. Thus far, he has four touchdown passes and three interceptions. Granted he has a higher completion percentage than he had in the past. But when your leading rusher is putting up 2.9 yards per carry with a long run of 12 yards, you have to hope that second-half Raiders defense shows up again.
Offensive Line (non)issues
The Jets are having issues with their offensive line, as demonstrated in the previous comments about the rushing attack. They lost guard Damien Woody to a torn Achilles tendon in February and he proceeded to retire. Now they have lost their three-time Pro Bowl and two-time All-Pro center Nick Mangold for this game and potentially the next one as well. To further complicate things, they have allowed five sacks of Sanchez already and are facing a tremendous front four this week that is looking to prove they are better than they showed last week. In addition, the Jets are only allowing running backs not named Shonn Greene to pick up 2.25 yards per carry. The Jets leftover offensive line must prove they are up to the task.
The Raiders, on the other hand, have been surprisingly good along their offensive front. Quarterback Jason Campbell praised them in his most recent media session and called them a veteran group – which isn’t entirely accurate. Khalif Barnes, Cooper Carlisle, and Samson Satele can be considered veterans, but the starting left side for the Raiders, a.k.a. the quarterback's blindside, is owned by rookie left guard Stefen Wisniewski and second-year left tackle Jared Veldheer. Thus far, the entire unit has allowed just one sack, and Campbell is completing 66.5 percent of his passes with a QB rating just below 100. Meanwhile Darren McFadden has run for 5.3 yards per carry, while Michael Bush is adding a healthy 4.1 yards per as his back-up. McFadden’s longest run is a 47 yarder and Bush has put up 22 in one carry. Together, the Raiders’ long runs this year are just six yards shy of what Greene has done with 26 attempts.
Coaching mind games
Rex Ryan and Hue Jackson go back a bit in NFL history since they were both coaches for the Baltimore Ravens for a few years together. Coach Jackson joked earlier this week about how he used to go the opposing teams’ quarterbacks prior to games and get them worked up about playing against Rex Ryan’s defense when he was defensive coordinator for the Ravens. Jackson then said that he will be keeping his quarterbacks away from Rex Ryan prior to the start of the game Sunday. But all of the back-patting will stop once the cleats are laced up and the game jerseys are donned.
This is going to be one of the more entertaining battles of the year for these two coaches. The jousting and cockfighting that will go on in this game could turn out to be epic. It’s one of the best defensive minds in the league vs. one of the best offensive minds in the game today. Neither one will back down or run from anything the other will put out there. Both coaches have a lot of talented players on their respective sides of the ball. This is certainly going to be one of the games that everybody playing in an early game Sunday will be watching. Analysts from around the league will have their eyes glued too since it is an afternoon game… on the east coast.
Defending the home grass
This is one of the only stadiums left in the league with an actual grass field. Some blockbuster battles have been conducted at the Coliseum. Sunday could be yet another. But one thing it cannot be if the Raiders ever want another sellout this season is a lopsided beat down courtesy of a team that is traveling across the country as the Raiders did last week. The Raiders are in a must win situation against a team that has their back on the ropes and is just waiting for somebody to deliver a knockout punch and prove that the Buffalo Bills are the second best team in the AFC East this season, not the Jets.
The Raiders are said to be amped up to play in front of a home sellout, which is something that they were only able to do once last season. If they lose this one, they will certainly not sell out next week’s game against the Super Bowl favorite New England Patriots. But if they can manage a win in this contest, they will most likely get back-to-back sellouts for the first time in forever. The 12th man has an opportunity to make that a possibility this week, so everybody should be on their feet and cheering. RAIDERS! RAIDERS! RAIDERS!
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i think to get by this team, especially on offense, we need to find out where revis is at and go the other way, send his butt deep and out the picture. then make bart scott & those linebackers guard mcfadden & co. out the backfield. tire them down like that and let bush come in and wear them out! we also need our oline to be on their toes cause this defense is nothing like those past two clown defenses we faced so far this year. their gonna blitz and disguise blitzs and our line is gonna have to recognize it! at the beginning of the season i had doubts about this one, i dont now. i think we win a close one, 17 - 14.
On reputation, the Raiders lose this. But on paper, I think it's a close game.
Truth is, Sanchez is not as good as Jason Campbell in 2011. It's not close. And we definitely have the advantage in both passing and rushing.
Defense is what evens it out. I don't think we're going to have problems making plays on Sanchez, but Jason Campbell and the offense need to stay cool, calm, and not throw the game away.
If Campbell plays solid, and the team comes out of the game losing one pick, and one fumble, we'll win.
We'll lose it, if it's a 4-5 turnover game.
Key to Raiders winning is knowing their offense is better than the Jets, even playing at 70%, and playing smart and within themselves.
Lots of rushing, lots of screens, lots of dump offs to Reece, McFadden, Bush.
Good article btw Bret! And you're right, the 12th man, Raidernation, is definately needed! If this team is to take us to the next level, the Overstock needs to be 'all blacked out' with intense and loud Raiders to support the bullies!
Reminds me a little of the old MNF intro, think it was against the Donkeys; Rise Raidernation, Rise!
Three hard games coming up, important to start out strong if we want a fighting chance for division this year! Sanchez is weak and can be pressured, so lets hope Mangold doesn't play and Chuckie can dial up some legit pressure while the D-line dominates the LOC!
Just saw that the Seahawks have demoted Curry and are looking to cut ties with him during (via trade) or after (cut) the season! He would fit perfectly as our WOLB and he would greatly upgrade our run D! He fits the new Raider mold as he is huge and fast, as well as a hard worker and intelligent! Him, Death Ro and Wimbley would be an insanely good trio imo!
Unfortunately we have used all our picks (almost) next year, but I am sure Big Al is interested, so lets see if he can work some magic! Really hope so!
Aaron Curry for Louis Murphy maybe? Seahawks need WR help and Murphy has almost become a forgotten man in our receivers core.
Aaron Curry has the potential to be a stud.
You know, on bad team the guy had 75 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles last season.
His major problems have been he's a play maker, playing on a soft, awful defense. Where they have no defensive line, no pressure, and he spends every play trying to do everything. He can't show his ability, as he spends 50% of the game, trying to make plays the the D line should be mopping up.
Put Curry on a good team, with other good defenders, and he'll be great.
The Seahawks problem is they're so lousy, that they need him to be freaking hall of fame level, to have the impact they need.
He's been a very good player his first 2 years. But as I said, they're so bad, he'd need to play like Ray Lewis to turn it around
@ChristopherMooney I think you're right! The Seattle organization and the fans seems to have wanted him to be a savior with the strength and speed of Superman - he would have to if he was to make up for all the plays given up by the D-line and the fellow LBs of late!
Only issue as i see it is that he is a bit thight when dropping into coverage, but so are all of our LB's, that fits what we are doing, and he brings so much to the table!
Groves has improved from the Preseason, but he is not a solid, dependable WOLB yet, and as we have no depth at all, this would make all the sense in the world (seems to be given way too much credit because he forced a fumble)!
Can also remember that Big Al was said to love the freakish athlete Curry is, so he must be looking at and exploring the option!
Imo it would make the front 7 almost complete regarding what we are trying to do, and we would have added one more playmaker to the lineup!