Suspended safety Eric Smith returned to action today after a week off. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Forget the fact that the Oakland Raiders got trounced 34-3 by New Orleans last week, The Black Hole in the Oakland Coliseum is “always a difficult place to play,” according to Mangini.
He added that there are similarities between the Raiders and the Bengals.
“There’s been a lot of close games,” Mangini said. “Two of the games they lost, they were leading deep in the fourth quarter. A couple plays here or there, their record could be extremely different.”
The Raiders are 1-4 to date and according to Mangini are historically difficult to beat the week after losing games with a big margin. Additionally, the head coach was quick to point out the threats posed by Oakland.
“Offensively, really impressive running game,” Mangini said. “Whether it’s McFadden, I think he’s 5.1 yards a carry. Fargas is 4.7, Bush is at 4.3.”
He was talking about Darren, Justin, and Michael, respectively, and he rattled off each back’s average spot-on from memory.
Those three backs combined with QB JaMarcus Russell to rush for just 85 yards and failed to reach the end zone against New Orleans, which ranks 14th league-wide in stopping the run. The Jets have the third best running defense in the league and are only getting better, however stopping a mobile quarterback like Russell will be a different monster than the Bengals Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Raiders are fourth in the league in yards per game, and near the top in total yards and yards per carry—tied for 8th in both, but McFadden and company will have their hands full this Sunday against the likes of NT Kris Jenkins, LB Calvin Pace and DE Shaun Ellis, a trio of defenders that has anchored the Jets defense against the run.
“They’re third for a reason,” Raiders head coach Tom Cable said via conference call. “You just turn on the tape and you see how good Jenkins is playing at nose guard, and Ellis and [Kenyon] Coleman playing at defensive end.
“And their two outside linebackers; very, very physical players. They’re very good, and they put them in position to win games.”
As for the passing game, Russell presents more of a threat with his ability to play action, throw deep, and scramble out of the pocket. Cable mentioned how their first priority is to protect the quarterback since Gang Green will be coming after Russell from all angles.
“He’s got all the tools to make any throw,” Mangini said. “Whether it’s a 60-yard throw on the run, whether it’s a quick slant, he’s got all of those things. And there’s been a bunch of plays on tape where they’re missing by a very small amount.
“This is essentially his rookie year because he didn’t play very much, and he gets better and better each game which makes it a challenge.”
Like Mangini, his players refuse to overlook the Raiders.
“We can’t go into a (game) against a team and (be like), ‘they’re not good or they’re struggling,’” Jenkins said. “No, because every team is good. Every team has that potential to turn it around.
“We don’t want, as a team, to go in relaxed against anybody. We have to approach every team as it’s a must-win game. We have to go and play like that. That’s how every team is going to come out and play us.”
For Brett Favre, who will be returning to Oakland for the first time since his phenomenal Monday Night clinic he put on back on December 22, 2003, a day after his father passed away, he doesn’t expect any emotions going back there this week.
“It’s been a long time, a lot of games,” Favre said. “I hope it’s not anything big one way or another. It’s just another game, one that we need to win.”
For the record, Favre was 22-for-30 with four touchdowns in that game. He had 311 yards in the first half, and 399 overall with no interceptions in the Packers’ 41-7 stomping of Oakland.
A win would be big for the Jets, who have the chance to improve to 4-2, and with a Buffalo loss could grab a share of the AFC East lead.
“We just gotta go out there seize the opportunity,” LB Calvin Pace said. “We can’t get caught up in being 4-2. Just go out there like any other game and start fast.”
The Jets released OL Will Montgomery and LB Brandon Renkart and signed OL Kyle DeVan to the practice squad.
Smith Expected to Return
After serving his one-game suspension for helmet-to-helmet contact against Arizona, Jets S Eric Smith is expected to play this Sunday against Oakland.
“I anticipate that he should be ready to go,” Mangini said. “You know, with any head injury, we monitor it.
“I feel good about where he is now, but we’ll definitely keep an eye on it throughout the week of practice and make sure it’s fine going into the game.”
Smith practiced Wednesday, but the injury report has yet to be released.
Players of the Week
Mangini announced Wednesday that OL D’Brickashaw Ferguson was named the team’s offensive player of the week. Defensively it was Shaun Ellis. Wallace Wright earned the honor for special teams while WR David Clowney was the practice player of the week.
Mangini believed that this was Ferguson’s first time getting the award since he’s been here, and said that both defense and offense had several good candidates.
“I really like the way [Ellis] finished every single play, the way he came out of what we call the stack, which is the pile, to pursue plays.
“And those things are one element of defense, but the one element of defense that’s extremely important, and that’s outside of his production is the actual game.”
The Black Hole
There was a lot of talk about the Oakland Coliseum, referred to by many as the “Black Hole,” a traditionally tough place to play in the NFL.
“It’s just the atmosphere," Shaun Ellis said. "They’re really juiced up in front of their crowd. It’s one of the most unique places in the National Football League and it’s just a tough place to play.
“It’s gonna be a battle this week.”
“We did win out there last year, but every other time I go out there it’s been bad losses. I don’t want any parts of that, especially when you prepare all week, go all the way out there and get embarrassed. That makes for a long trip back to the east coast."
Jenkins a Truffle Oil Guy
When asked at his press conference whether he thinks NT Kris Jenkins is a better chef or nose tackle, coach Mangini couldn’t answer due to lack of experience.
“He’s never offered me anything he’s cooked,” Mangini said.
“It’s hard without firsthand experience. I did see some piece, I don’t know what it was on, ESPN or something, something on the internet. He was putting truffle oil in his eggs. He didn’t strike me as a truffle oil type of guy, but appearances can be deceiving.”
When a reporter told Mangini that it’s been said that he makes good omelets, Mangini responded, “Yeah? I’m usually not over at Jenkins’ house for breakfast.”