Former Jets RB LaMont Jordan makes his first trip back to the Meadowlands as a Raider this Sunday.
For four years, RB Lamont Jordan waited behind RB Curtis Martin for his chance. Then last off-season, Jordan became a free agent and bolted New York for a big free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders.
Jordan was excited about being an every-down back for the first time in his career and was expected to help the Raiders be competitive in the AFC West. While Jordan has rushed for 844 yards on 233 carries and nine touchdowns and has caught a team-high 61 passes for 493 yards and two touchdowns, the Raiders are disappointed with his average of 3.6 yards per carry.
Jordan expects his former teammates to play hard. “Those guys are going to be coming out to knock my head off,” Jordan told the Oakland media this week. “I feel like coming into this game, they could care less if we throw for 400 yards as long as I don't get off against the Jets. That's just the reality of the situation. I know those guys pretty well, and I know this is going to be a very, very physical game. You look at the record, you look at the game, there's one thing I know is a Herm Edwards team, and regardless of their record, they're going to come out and play.”
DE Shaun Ellis talked about what makes Jordan so good. “He’s powerful,” Ellis said. “He’s the same as (Corey) Dillon, a little faster. He does a good job of getting his shoulders squared out to the line, running through the line and taking all the contact, he doesn’t shy away from it. It’s one thing that separates him and most other backs that are big and powerful like that. Most of them turn and shy away, but he just keeps his shoulders square and keeps running.”
Ellis expects Jordan to come out with a chip on his shoulder. “Anytime you face a former team, you want to do well against them,” Ellis said. “This could be a good frame of competition between us, he’s coming out trying to do his job and we’re trying to do our job, and it’s time for us to shut down the run, we haven’t done it all season, so it’s pretty much time for us to get it done.”
LB Jonathan Vilma feels the Jets have an advantage against Jordan. “You know the benefit is that we did practice against him last year and for the older guys, two or three years. We know his moves and we know he can play,” Vilma said.
Jets RB Curtis Martin remains good friends with Jordan although Martin says the two haven’t spoken much this season. “I’m just glad for the fact he’s doing what he’s doing,” Martin said. “We’ve always known that he has the talent to do it and it seems like it’s all coming together for him. I think this is just beginning. I think Lamont has a bright future in the NFL.”
Even though Jordan has put up big numbers offensively, the Raiders have struggled to function as a whole and are in last place in the AFC West with a 4-8 record.
The 2-10 Jets are looking to snap a seven-game losing streak and try to show Jordan he made a mistake leaving the Jets.
A new quarterback will be handing the ball off to Jordan as Marques Tuiasosopo will start in place of Kerry Collins who is being benched. In a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, Raiders head coach Norv Turner talked about why he is making the switch. “We’re in a situation where we’ve been inconsistent, struggled offensively at times,” Turner said. “And I think it’s a circumstance, and where we’re at I think it’s probably the right time to give Tui an opportunity.”
The move doesn’t come as much of a surprise as Collins has thrown seven of his 10 interceptions in the last four games. Tuiasosopo will start for only the second time in his NFL career. He’s only played in eight NFL games in five seasons. Tuiasosopo is much more mobile than Collins and is not afraid to run with the ball.
It will be key for the Jets to get pressure on Tuiasosopo as the Raiders offensive line has been atrocious this season and has allowed 10 sacks in the last two games.
WR Randy Moss has 771 receiving yards and has battled groin problems for most of the season. “I think, where we are as an offense, people have been able to concentrate on him, play over the top, double him a great deal,” Turner said. “The one thing I think he’s done a great job of is staying in there, competing through the stretch where he wasn’t 100 percent, playing hard and doing what he could to stay on the field and make plays. As he’s gotten better, I think his production has gone up.”
Sunday’s game certainly has the potential to be ugly as neither offense has done much this season. The Jets have just one touchdown in their last four games and are averaging 11.9 points per game (32nd in the NFL) but may be able to do something against the Raiders defense that ranks 27th in points allowed and 22nd against the run.
The Raiders defense has been hurt by the losses of DT Warren Sapp and CB Charles Woodson who were both having good years. Stepping up in their place has been DE Derrick Burgess who has 11 sacks and rookie LB Kirk Morrison, a third-round draft pick. Morrison is an enthusiastic player who is always around the ball.
Jets QB Brooks Bollinger will be making his fifth straight start and talked about how he’s progressed. “I feel that I’ve improved,” Bollinger said. “That doesn’t show on the field all the time, but there’s a lot that goes into it. It’s a game of being perfect. You need 11 guys on the same page and you need to do it consistently. Something I need to do better is execute more consistently.”
One of the goals for the Jets is to help Martin become the first rusher in NFL history to have 11 straight 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Martin currently has 765 yards this year. “It would be a great goal to accomplish,” Martin said. “Those goals are the only time in the world, or in history that it’s ever been done; it would be a great thing. I’m more concerned about winning games. I know this sound like the right thing to say right now, but I’ve never been a goal guy. This is one that I think would be special. I have to understand that this would be special, not for myself, but just for everyone who’s a part of it.”
No one would question Martin’s toughness as he has played nearly the entire season through pain. “It’s been very tough,” Martin said. “This has been one of my more challenging if not my most challenging year physically.”
QB Vinny Testaverde talked about Martin being a leader. “I think guys look to him to set the example and he’s certainly helped this team get pointed in the right direction,” Testaverde said. “His focus, commitment and dedication to trying to win each week no matter what the circumstances are for us, no matter how the season has gone. He’s still one of the guys up front leading us trying to point us in the right direction each week.”
LB Jonathan Vilma said the Jets will remain competitive each week. “We’re not going to let anybody just roll over us and go into the game thinking they are going to win just by showing up.”
Even though the Jets are 2-10, Edwards said the team won’t shy away from the game plan. “It sounds real good, ‘Open it up, go for broke, go do this, and go do that,’” Edwards said. “That gives you the best chance of getting blown out in a game, trying to play that way. So, you know, it’s not like you just have no caution; throw caution to the wind. Go out there, run double reverses, trick plays. We’re not some circus teams. This is not a circus. We’re trying to win a game the best way we know as coaches.”
-ABRAHAM NOT WORRIED ABOUT CONTRACT. DE John Abraham leads the Jets with 6.5 sacks and would like a long-term deal with the Jets. Earlier this week, Abraham was asked about his future as a Jet: “I still have four more games before I even think about anything,” Abraham said. “Our season isn’t over yet. We’re pretty much out of the playoffs, but we still have four more games to compete and get better, and get something good out of this season. I’m not worrying about that stuff right now.”
-The Raiders lead the all-time series 19-12-2. The last time the Raiders came to the Meadowlands was Sept. 21, 1997, a 23-22 Jets victory. Since then, the Jets have traveled to Oakland seven times, losing twice in the playoffs.
DE Shaun Ellis has gone six games without a sack. He has just 48 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks this season
-TE Doug Jolley (17 catches, 208 yard) is going against his former team. Norv Turner coached Jolley last year in Oakland. “I just think that in free agency and when guys change teams through a trade, I just think there’s an adjustment period that people don’t quite understand and sometimes it happens real fast and sometimes it doesn’t. But Doug’s a good player, good receiver, and I just think it sometimes takes longer than others,” Turner said.
-The Jets have allowed 37 sacks this season. Oakland has given up 32 sacks.
-Under Edwards, the Jets have been disciplined and despite having 73 penalties this year are fifth in the NFL in least penalized teams.
-The Jets have 28 turnovers this year.
-LB Jonathan Vilma leads the NFL with 133 tackles.
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THREE KEYS TO A JETS VICTORY:
1. Protect Brooks
While Brooks Bollinger hasn’t played great this year, he hasn’t been helped by his offensive line which has not done a good job blocking. Even if the Jets double team DE Derrick Burgess he may be able to get to Bollinger.
2. Stop Lamont
No doubt that Lamont Jordan will be fired up. While the Raiders haven’t had a particularly good year, Jordan has been solid and is a tough back to bring down. Jordan wants to bounce back after only gaining 55 yards in last week’s 34-10 loss to San Diego.
3. Convert on third down
The Jets have been horrible on third down this season, converting 57-155 attempts (36.8%). The Jets need to keep drives alive and control the time of possession allowing the defense to rest and not get worn down.
The Jets are desperate for a win and the Raiders coming to the Meadowlands is exactly what they need. This is a winnable game but so was the game against the Saints and the Jets lost that. Expect the Jets to continue to fight hard and to come out on top.
-RB Derrick Blaylock (ankle): Out
-DT Dewayne Robertson (quad): Questionable
-RB Curtis Martin (knee): Probable
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