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New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders: Top 3 keys to victory for Gang Green

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders scrambles with ball against the New York Jets during their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on November 1, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders scrambles with ball against the New York Jets during their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on November 1, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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OAKLAND, CA – NOVEMBER 01: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders scrambles with ball against the New York Jets during their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on November 1, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – NOVEMBER 01: Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders scrambles with ball against the New York Jets during their NFL game at O.co Coliseum on November 1, 2015 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The New York Jets fell to Buffalo in a sluggish effort in Week 1. It’ll take an incredible performance on all fronts to win in the ‘Black Hole’ this Sunday.

Week 2 of the NFL season has arrived. The New York Jets (0-1) will travel to the Bay Area to take on the Oakland Raiders (1-0) in a lopsided contest. The last time the Jets visited Oakland, the Raiders came out on top 34-20. Geno Smith was forced to step in for Ryan Fitzpatrick who tweaked his thumb while Todd Bowles and the defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed. A similar result this year is well within the realm of possibility.

New York played conservatively in the season opener and lost 21-12. The Bills created 18 plays of 10+ yards and eight plays of 20+ yards. If you want to count the 24-yard pass interference, you can add one more to each. They were just as embarrassing on the other side of the ball. They had 38 rushing yards on 15 attempts and a mere 176 through the air. It’s surprising they kept it close in all four quarters.

The Raiders visited Tennessee in Week 1 and won 26-16. Jack Del Rio‘s defense showed its potential as one of the more improved units in the league. They held All-Pro DeMarco Murray to 42 yards on 12 carries and Marcus Mariota to 256 yards passing. Oakland’s offense racked up 359 yards and we learned Marshawn Lynch is still himself after the one-year hiatus.

Looking at this matchup on paper, it’s clear why the Raiders are 15-point favorites. They’re a Super Bowl contender with a long history of success against New York in the Coliseum. This is Gang Green’s toughest game on their schedule. Here are the three things they’ll need to do to gut out a victory.

Next: 3. Cover the tight end

ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 10: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets attempts to run down Charles Clay #85 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half on September 10, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY – SEPTEMBER 10: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets attempts to run down Charles Clay #85 of the Buffalo Bills during the first half on September 10, 2017 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

3. Cover the tight end

One of the Jets’ blatant flaws in 2016 has carried over into the new season. They cannot cover the tight end in any circumstance. In Week 1, Charles Clay gashed the defense for 53 yards and a touchdown on four catches. Clay is one of Buffalo’s few respectable assets in the passing game. Bowles knew what to expect and still had no answer. Want to know the scary reality? Almost every team has a big body like Clay.

Oakland’s is Jared Cook. The 30-year-old spent last season in Green Bay where he finished with 30 receptions for 377 yards and a touchdown. In his first outing as a Raider, he had five catches for 56 yards. He has two inches on Clay and his 4.5 speed makes him as quick as a receiver. If Gang Green somehow holds Cook in check, Oakland can line up in multiple tight end sets with Lee Smith and/or Clive Walford. Damage can be done in several ways.

What New York can do to minimize that damage is use a combination of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye on Cook. Both have showcased their ability to cover tight ends and make plays on the ball. Demario Davis and Darron Lee have struggled in that area. Quite frankly, they’re needed in the box stuffing the run more than in coverage. It’s time for Bowles to bring his lunch pail and put his rookies to work.

Next: 2. Blitz Derek Carr

2. Blitz Derek Carr

The Jets’ tallest and most important task is pressuring Derek Carr. Tyrod Taylor gave the front-seven trouble in Week 1, although his mobility makes it tough sledding for any defense to get after him. The challenge in getting to Carr is beating his five blockers. Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele, and Rodney Hudson all made the Pro Bowl in 2016. Gabe Jackson is as underrated as they come at right guard.

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Where Gang Green can exploit the Raiders’ line is at right tackle. Oakland rolled with journeyman Marshall Newhouse against Tennessee to replace recently cut veteran Austin Howard.

Youngster Vadal Alexander saw just nine snaps to Newhouse’s 57. Neither of these two has proven they can keep a starting role. Newhouse has played six seasons in his career, grading horribly in all but one on Pro Football Focus (2012, 69.4). Alexander is a seventh-rounder in his sophomore year.

Efficient blitzes come from efficient play calls, so execution is up to Bowles here. He has to send the right number of men and attack the right gaps to get Carr under duress. Look for Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams to bounce back. They can chase down a guy like Carr, few defensive linemen can catch Taylor. Jordan Jenkins and Josh Martin will also have to be more active. Lack of production at outside linebacker is always a recipe for a poor pass rush.

Next: 1. Win the time of possession

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JANUARY 01: Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets runs with the ball during the first quarter of their game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JANUARY 01: Bilal Powell #29 of the New York Jets runs with the ball during the first quarter of their game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on January 1, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images)

1. Win the time of possession

New York may not have to worry much about Oakland’s offense. That’s if their own offense can stay on the field. John Morton’s group punted six times and lost the possession battle by over six minutes. On top of that, they had only 11 first downs and a mere 3.9 yards per play. Each of those stats is humiliating in their own way and it wasn’t even due in part to an elite defense. Things have to change this week.

The first is the use of Bilal Powell. Why he didn’t earn at least 15 touches in Buffalo is nothing short of baffling. Powell has been Mr. Consistency year in and year out. He can run between the tackles, hit the turbo button and kick it outside, catch passes and move the chains on third down. Instead, Forte got the nod and provided no spark to begin the day before Powell finally saw the field in the second quarter. Morton has to reorder the running back depth chart immediately.

Must Read: Short leash for Josh McCown against Oakland Raiders

The second is the conservative passing attack. You can’t dink and dunk your way to victories in the NFL, you have to throw the ball downfield to keep drives alive. Josh McCown completed five passes for double-digit yardage in the season opener. Yes, five. The West Coast offense is designed to set up the big play after a series of runs and quick timing routes. Let’s see that big play on Sunday. Let’s additionally see the play clock inside of five before every snap. Can’t forget that.

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