JETS-RAIDERS: Previewing the Battle in the Black Hole
No more media circus, no more bandwagon, no more Super Bowl predictions.
With the media honeymoon over and the talks of “Same old Jets” mounting, the Jets find themselves with their backs up against the wall in their Week 7 showdown in Oakland.
The 2-4 Raiders are by no stretch of the imagination a juggernaut, but are coming off their most impressive win of the season, a 13-9 defensive beat-down of the Philadelphia Eagles.
With their confidence brimming, they present a dangerous task for a Jet team in dire need of a win, by any means necessary.
Losers of three in a row, a fourth-straight loss could spell doom for this Jet bunch, and start the dramatic downward spiral of a once promising, 3-0, 2009 campaign.
KEYS TO VICTORY FOR GANG GREEN
1) Run, run, run
For the second straight week, the Jets face a defense that has struggled mightily to stop the run. Combine that with the fact that the coaching staff said they will attempt to simplify things for quarterback Mark Sanchez, and the gameplan is pretty obvious; run until you can’t run anymore. Expect a heavy dose of Thomas Jones (210 rushing yards last week against the Bills) and Leon Washington, early and often.
Jones acknowledges that this West Coast affair is a high stakes one for the Jets. “The main goal is that we have to win this game, he said. “It’s a big game for us, a West Coast game, an away game. It’s definitely one of those games where the team has to come together.”
Establishing the running game early will take the pressure off Sanchez and open up down-field opportunities for WR Braylon Edwards and WR David Clowney.
2) Limit the dumb penalties
In what has been becoming a theme early this season, the Jets committed an atrocious 14 penalties for 96 yards against Buffalo. In fact, New York ranks fourth in the league, with 44 penalties in only six games.
As they found out last Sunday, penalties can be particularly taxing in the key moments of ball games. Especially when going up against an inferior opponent. The Jets need to limit the stupid mistakes against this Raiders team, which will look to capitalize on them.
3) Sanchize, not Broadway Schmo
The play of Mark Sanchez has been an accurate barometer of the Jets’ success this season. In Jet losses, Sanchez has been putrid, completing 45 percent of his throws with eight picks and a pathetic 26.5 QB rating. Two of the Jets’ three losses can be placed squarely on the rookie’s shoulders as he has struggled with ball security issues, bad throws and even worse reads.
The question of which Mark Sanchez will show up Sunday, will ultimately decide the game for the Jets. If the Sanchez who showed great poise and made accurate throws in wins against Houston and New England shows up Sunday, the Jets will prevail.
If his turnover-prone alter ego, “Broadway Schmo”, is in attendance, it could be a long day for Gang Green, in a game that could very well define the direction the rest of this season heads.
4) Hire the Clown
Making his first career start against Buffalo last week, David Clowney didn’t see one ball come his way. Sanchez appeared to be force-feeding balls the way of Braylon Edwards, and that came back to bite him on several occasions.
With Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith out for the second-straight week, the Jets need to find a way to get the talented Clowney more involved. The six-foot speedster has shown he can produce when given the chance. Against Miami two weeks ago, Clowney hauled in four receptions for 74 yards, including a 53-yarder.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer needs to utilize the down-field speed of Clowney on more go routes. This would prevent the Oakland defense from keying in on Edwards and Dustin Keller.
5) Pressure, pressure, pressure
Pressure will be the name of the game for the Jet defense, which needs to find a way to get to Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell. Russell has shown to struggle when faced with a strong pass rush and been apt to make mistakes.
Gang Green needs to take a page out of the Giants playbook, who were able to keep constant pressure on the young quarterback, sacking him six times while forcing three fumbles.
The Jets cannot let this struggling offense get comfortable and gain confidence early, with their raucous crowd behind them. The tone needs to be set from the start on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cali sunshine will prove to be the perfect medicine for Mark Sanchez. The rookie has a bounce-back game, throwing for at least two touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, the Jet defense will frustrate JaMarcus Russell, forcing a variety of turnovers and mistakes from the former number-one overall pick. The Jets bounce back from their worst loss of the season and snap their three-game losing streak, as the running game propels them to an easy victory in the Black Hole: Jets 24, Raiders 10
The Raiders host the Jets for the second straight time on Sunday, and the ninth time in fifteen seasons. Historically, Gang Green has had their share of problems against the Silver & Black. Oakland holds the series advantage, posting a 20-14-2 all-time record against the Jets.
Last time they met…
The Raiders handed the Jets one of their worst losses of the 2008 season, defeating New York, 16-13 in an overtime affair. In that game, the Raider defense caused three fumbles and two interceptions from Jets QB Brett Favre (Hmm..Turnovers from a Jets quarterback? Sounds familiar). Sebastian Janikowski’s franchise-record 57-yard field goal gave Oakland the win with 2:30 remaining in overtime. The Polish Powderkeg’s boot was the longest to win a game in overtime in NFL history.
Injury Report: Jets paper-thin at wideout
The Jets will be without receivers Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring) and Brad Smith (quad) for the second straight week. WR David Clowney will make his second-straight start, in Cotchery’s absence.
CB Lito Sheppard aggravated his quad injury during last weeks’ game against Buffalo and will not play Sunday. Gang Green will also be without special teams players James Ihedigbo and Marques Murrell, who were benched by head coach Rex Ryan and will not be with the team in Oakland, following their on-field altercation with Buffalo TE Derrick Fine last Sunday.
CB Donald Strickland, who has been sidelined with a nagging quad injury since Week 3, is expected to play Sunday. The same goes for OT Damien Woody (knee, foot) who was limited during Friday’s practice.
The Raiders have listed LB Ricky Brown (ankle), G Robert Gallery (fibula), T Cornell Green (calf), RB Darren McFadden (knee), and WR Nick Miller (shin) as out for Sunday’s game.
CB Nnamdi Asomugha (eye), G Cooper Carlisle (ankle), RB Luke Lawton (ankle), and TE Brandon Myers (illness) are listed as probable. DE Greg Ellis (knee), WR Chaz Schilens (foot) and DE Richard Seymour (illness) are questionable.
Seymour and Myers both missed practice time this week due to flu-like symptoms. The Jets catch a huge break if Greg Ellis and Richard Seymour are unable to go, as they are both critical parts of Oakland’s pass rush.