New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders: Top 5 players to watch in Week 2
By Michael Pallas
The New York Jets head to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Week 2 to take on the Raiders for the final time in Oakland.
Oakland and Los Angeles haven’t been kind to the New York Jets. The New York Titans won their first three visits to the Bay Area to take on the Raiders, but since they changed their name to the Jets, they’ve been to Oakland 18 times, and they’ve only come away with three wins and a tie. That includes 11 straight trips to Oakland without coming back to the New York metropolitan area with a win (0-10-1).
Their last two trips to Oakland have seen them lose by a combined score of 68-44. So, they haven’t exactly been close.
The Raiders are expected to be Super Bowl contenders in 2017. So this is a litmus test game for this young Jets team, especially since it will be the final home opener in Oakland and a hostile crowd.
This young team will be tested early in their career. This franchise will see what kind of team they have in terms of grit and attitude.
For a young team, winning is essential. However, coming away from a respectable performance against one of the league’s best teams can give this young team a boost of confidence.
Can they come away with a win? It will be highly unlikely. With that said, it’s not impossible, and here are the top five players that can make a win possible.
Next: 5. Young leader has to show up
5. Safety Jamal Adams
For the second straight week, Adams is on this list. This week he moves down a couple of notches because other players will need to show some things for this team to win. However, he’s on this list because he’s already showing signs of leadership potential.
For the second straight week, the Jets go into a game against a tough offensive line and a solid running game. This week is a bit different though.
Adams had a rough go in Week 1, he allowed Charles Clay to break out. He needs to be tougher against the run and the tight ends for this Jets defense to be successful.
Raiders tight ends aren’t great, but they’re solid. Adams will have to cover tight ends and stay patient against the run in order for the Jets to come back east win a rare win in Oakland.
Next: 4. Running back needs to step up and deliver
4. Running Back Bilal Powell
It is incumbent upon the coaching staff to give Powell more playing time and touches against the Raiders. It’s also incumbent upon Powell to prove his worth and take his rightful place as a starting running back by showing everything he’s got in team practice.
This Jets offense needs the running game to step up, and Matt Forte proved against the Bills that he’s not more than a complimentary piece at this stage in his career. Powell is their best option for both running and passing now.
The Jets are going to need Powell, because this may be the best offensive line the defense faces. They will need to keep the defense off the field as much as possible to keep them fresh, and Powell can provide that for them.
Powell will need to eat up carries and get 90-100 yards on the ground for the Jets to even earn a rare win in Oakland. They need to win the time of possession battle, and it starts with Powell.
Next: 3. Veteran quarterback needs to change mindset
3. Quarterback Josh McCown
McCown didn’t have a terrible game against the Bills. With that said, it wasn’t anything to write home about either.
He dinked-and-dunked his way to a 66.7 percent completion rate, but he only had 187 yards passing. It is possible, since his reps diminished late in camp, that he just didn’t trust his receivers yet.
McCown will have to change things up if the Jets want to win in Oakland. He will have to be willing to take risks he didn’t against Buffalo because Oakland can and will score.
He can’t dink and dunk his way to victory. If the Jets want to win, McCown will have to throw the ball down the field.
Next: 2. Young lion needs to roar
2. Defensive End Leonard Williams
Williams was a non-factor at New Era Field against the Bills on Sunday. He was stifled by the Bills offensive line and a mobile quarterback.
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Luckily, Derek Carr isn’t as athletic as Tyrod Taylor. That being said, the Raiders offensive line is much better than that of the Bills.
They also have Marshawn Lynch, who came out of retirement to sign with his hometown team. Williams will have to be around the ball both when Carr drops back and when Lynch is carrying it for the Jets to have a shot.
Williams has a rare combination of size and athleticism. He will have to use all of his tools to keep the Raiders offense at bay.
Next: 1. Put up or shut up time for this defensive lineman
1. Defensive End Muhammad Wilkerson
We all know what’s on the line for Wilkerson this season. However, it wasn’t a lack of effort that cost him in the game against Buffalo.
Wilkerson actually was outmatched by a quicker and more elusive quarterback. He got his hands on Taylor a couple of times, but Taylor managed to shake him.
It was Taylor’s speed that did Wilkerson in against the Bills on Sunday. Wilkerson will have to put forth more effort on Sunday in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum if the Jets want to fly home with a win.
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The Raiders offensive line is tougher than the Bills, and Wilkerson will have to find another gear against them, but he’s capable against a less athletic Carr to bring him down. If he can put forth more effort than he did against Buffalo, the Jets will stay in this game and it will help the secondary tremendously.