On Sunday the New York Jets kickoff their 2014 season with a conference game against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. EST). The Jets enter this match-up as a team full of promise and potential while the Raiders are looking to get back to their winning ways led by rookie quarterback Derek Carr. Here are some keys to the game from a New York perspective.
Establish the running game- One of the best ways to slow down a pass rush and wear down a defense is with a productive running game. Look for Gang Green to establish both Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson early on in the game. Once the ground game gets going Jets quarterback Geno Smith will then look to take some shots down the field. Note: Don't be surprised to see running back Bilal Powell sprinkled into the game plan as well. Powell is a consistent runner that is effective in third down situations.
Spread the wealth- The addition of wide receiver Eric Decker gives the New York Jets a weapon that must be accounted for by the opposing defense. The Jets offense must take advantage of the concentrated coverage and spread the ball around to playmakers like Jeremy Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, Jace Amaro, and Chris Johnson. The last thing that you want to see is Geno Smith forcing throws into small passing windows.
Avoid third and long situations- The Oakland Raiders have some dangerous pass rushers, including LaMarr Woodley, Justin Tuck, and Khalil Mack, that can disrupt an offense when given the opportunity. Gang Green must avoid third down and long situations in order to prevent obvious blitz/rush packages.
Contain MJD and McFadden- It is no secret that the Oakland Raiders will try to protect rookie quarterback Derek Carr by featuring running backs Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. The Jets defense must account for McFadden and MJD at all times especially coming out of the backfield on pass plays.
Rattle the rookie- The New York defense must find ways to make rookie quarterback Derek Carr uncomfortable in the pocket. Look for head coach Rex Ryan to confuse Carr with exotic coverages and schemes while the defensive line tries to generate pressure. This could be a big game for linebackers Quinton Coples and Jason Babin.
Consistent secondary play- One of the biggest stories heading into this game is the state of the New York Jets secondary. Gang Green will be starting a revamped defensive backfield that includes Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls at cornerback and Calvin Pryor and Dawan Landry at safety. The Jets secondary must remain consistent in coverage and avoid repeated blown assignments.
On paper this is a game that the New York Jets should win as the Raiders are an average team starting a rookie quarterback. Gang Green should be able to control the line of scrimmage which will lead to big plays on both sides of the football. For you fantasy football players I would not be surprised to see big performances out of Chris Johnson and Jeremy Kerley.
Final score: Jets 27-17