Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets receiver Eric Decker (87) is tackled by Oakland Raiders cornerback Tarell Brown (23) and safety Tyvon Branch (33) at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Raiders 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets vs Raiders game today will be a close one with two teams hungry for a win as these are the 3 keys to victory for Gang Green
After a 30-23 loss in Foxboro, the NY Jets face the 3-3 Oakland Raiders in a must-win game in Week 8. Last season, if someone told you that both of these teams would play in a game the following year that could hold playoff implications, you’d probably laugh in their face. Surprisingly, that wild imagination has become a reality. Both Gang Green and the Raiders have started 2015 in fine shape to put their dismal 2014 seasons in the rear-view. Now, both are eyeing postseason berth.
In New York’s loss to the New England Patriots, the defense played their worst game all year. Tom Brady threw the ball for a majority of the contest and had himself a career day. Wideout Danny Amendola was able to rip apart the Jets’ secondary with eight catches for 86 yards and a touchdown while Rob Gronkowski played like he normally does. The Arizona product carried defenders on his back from start to finish and put the game on ice with his 15-yard score with one minute remaining. If the Jets want to come away with a win in Oakland, the secondary must improve.
On the other hand, quarterback Derek Carr is dialed in for the Raiders. Him and wide receiver Amari Cooper have been on the same page ever since training camp. Last week, Oakland laid the hammer down on the San Diego Chargers jumping out to a 30-6 halftime lead. Even though they’ve struggled mightily the past decade doing everything they can to have a winning season, this Raiders squad is a lot different.
With an injury-ridden Jets team, you can arguably label the men in black as the favorites in this matchup. The Jets haven’t had much success in Oakland in recent years, so head coach Todd Bowles will look to start a winning tradition this afternoon.
Here are three things New York must do to get themselves to 5-2.
Next: 3. Dominate in the trenches
Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Oakland Raiders long snapper Jon Condo (59) snaps the ball at the line of scrimmage against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
3. Dominate in the trenches
Even though this can be used as a key to victory for any team, the Jets can blow the doors off the Raiders if they win the battle in the trenches. As of now, both New York and Oakland have the top two run defenses in all of football. Gang Green allows a mere 71.5 yards per game while the Raiders give up 84.3. The big difference between the two teams is how effectively they can run the football.
The Jets are ranked 7th in rushing due in large part to the offensive line as well as the talent of Chris Ivory. However, the Raiders are ranked 30th in the league when it comes to running the football, so New York’s defensive front is obviously coming in with a tremendous advantage in terms of run defense.
The only Oakland running back who has made an impact in the ground game is Latavius Murray. Roy Helu Jr. and Marcel Reece only play factors through the air, so whenever either of them are in the backfield, the Jets can expect a pass 90% of the time. A big reason on why the Raiders’ run game has struggled is also because of J’Marcus Webb.
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According to Pro Football Focus, Webb is ranked 39th out of 42 guards who have received at least 75% of snaps. He has an overall grade of -9.2 and a run block grade of -5.3. Since he’s one of the worst starting guards in the league, head coach Todd Bowles needs to send multiple defenders at him in order to hit the Raiders where it hurts.
In order for this to happen. David Harris and Demario Davis need to be on their “A” game. Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson will be causing havoc on the line, but the extra blitz from one of the middle linebackers can really overwhelm Webb.
On the offensive side of the ball, life without Nick Mangold will be tough for New York. He’s been an essential piece to the line ever since he was drafted, and when he’s not out there, the Jets clearly miss him. Not only will the Jets’ defensive line have to succeed as always, the offensive line will have to edge the Raiders’ defensive front as well.
Next: 2. Air it out
Oct 25, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass against the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
2. Air it out
Even though the Jets’ run game is the best in the league, they have to go with what worked last week in Foxboro. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker continue to impress as the Jets’ two stud receivers. Marshall finished Week 7’s contest with 67 yards on 4 catches and Decker concluded with 6 catches for 94 yards. This is actually the first week that Marshall hasn’t received for 100 yards since the season opener. With a banged up Ivory and Mangold’s absence, Gang Green would be hard pressed to try and run the ball a lot today.
A main reason why New York needs to throw the rock is because of Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith. On PFF, both Mack and Smith rank in the top 15 out of 31 outside linebackers (3-4) who have played at least 60% of snaps. Mack is the best in the league with a +27.2 grade and Smith has a +5.9 through the first six games which ranks him 12th.
Both are stellar when it comes to stopping the run and as far as pass rushing goes, it’s no different. What the Jets have to do to avoid these two monsters is set up the quick slant routes that Fitzpatrick has timed very well when throwing to Marshall and Decker. This gets the ball in a playmaker’s hand fast and keeps the quarterback off the turf.
Devin Smith is also sidelined with an injury, so expect a decent dose of Jeremy Kerley. The TCU graduate has played less than 25% of snaps but has still managed to score two touchdowns. Kerley has actually been a factor in the redzone and with minimal depth in the receiving corps, offensive coordinator Chan Gailey will utilize him a lot this afternoon.
Given the Raiders’ grueling front-seven and the fact that Ryan Fitzpatrick has gotten in a bit of a groove, New York can find plenty of success slinging the ball in Oakland.
Next: 1. Avoid Charles Woodson
Oct 4, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Oakland Raiders free safety Charles Woodson (24) celebrates after an interception against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
1. Avoid Charles Woodson
While the Jets should stick to the gameplan and throw the ball, they must stay away from Charles Woodson. At 39 years of age, the future Hall of Famer is still playing like one of the best defenders in the league. Woodson has simply been a turnover creator in early 2015. He’s picked off four passes and only allowed 54.5% of passes to be completed in his coverage, per PFF. He currently ranks 11th out of the 33 safeties (both free and strong) that have received at least 75% of snaps. Gailey needs to call plays that will keep the ball-hawking ability of Woodson out of play.
This would include not throwing the ball deep frequently. We’ve seen Fitzpatrick get intercepted on quite a few deep balls this season, and with Woodson lurking in center field, this week won’t be very safe. Gang Green needs to settle for predominately short passes and avoid throwing the ball over the middle of the field where Woodson has lived these past two years in Oakland. Chris Owusu is no longer on the roster and Smith is inactive, therefore the Jets really don’t have anyone to throw the ball deep to, fortunately.
The guys for New York to pick on are D.J. Hayden who has a -6.0 grade, Neiko Thorpe (-3.9) and T.J. Carrie (-1.2). Both Hayden and Thorpe have been penalized three times thus far while Carrie has yielded just one flag. Against a defense that relies heavily on their pass rushers getting to the quarterback, Fitzpatrick can have a great day if the ball gets out of his hands a bit faster.
Hayden and Carrie through the years have shown they cannot keep up with a Marshall or Decker caliber wideout, so picking on the corners opposed to taking shots downfield is the best recipe for success for the Jets.