Stopping the Pass
Raiders QB Jason Campbell is a strong, accurate passer who threw for 323 yards in last week’s loss to Buffalo. Ryan has spent this past week stressing the importance of stopping the deep pass to his team, and the Jets coverage will likely be as strong as it typically is, but that will only be half the battle. If the Jets want to stymie Campbell, they’ll need to blitz well and consistently, flushing him out of the pocket and creating the kind of confusion that sends his stats plummeting.
Once again, the Jets run defense is up against an elusive, game-changing running back in Darren McFadden. They were able to limit Maurice Jones-Drew to a measly 88 yards on 18 carries with no TDs last week, but part of that could be attributed to QB Luke McCown’s ineffectiveness. Last week, McFadden only had 72 yards on 20 attempts and is playing with an injured shoulder. If the Jets keep his numbers in the same range, they should be able to limit the damage the Raiders offense can do.
Setting the Pace
As they’ve done the past two week, the Jets will likely come fast on hard on 1st downs, limiting the Raiders options on subsequent snaps:
“I know that the Jets, after two games in the NFL are the number one team in the league in first-down production on defense, and I think the opponents are averaging about 3.84 yards per play on first down,” Raiders offensive coordinator Al Saunders told the Oakland media Friday.
Playing this way will keep the Raiders on their heels and probably create more 3rd down situations, in which the Jets’ opponents have been 7/24 this season.
To Run or Not to Run?
I may be incredibly wrong about this, and apparently the Raiders’ coaches disagree with me, but I don’t expect to see the Jets run too often tomorrow, at least not early. With Mangold out, the Jets’ offensive line will be significantly weakened, and they may rely more heavily on the passing game to move the ball. However, the Raiders gave up 223 rushing yards to the Bills last week, with an average of 9.3 yards per carry, so this could be a weakness that the Jets pound away at.
Finding the Receivers
There’s been much talk about the weaknesses of Sanchez’s passing game and his lack of throws to his newer receivers. Playing against the Raiders, whose secondary is no longer the same without Nnamdi Asomugha, Sanchez will have an opportunity to silence his critics. Last week, the Bills scored 35 points against the Raiders in the 2nd half, and if Sanchez wants to be considered “elite,” now is the time to rack up the yardage.
Expect to see struggling cornerback Chris Johnson, against whom quarterbacks have been 13/17 this season and who gave up 7 completions for 74 yards to Stevie Johnson last week, targeted often.
Again, the offensive line will be weaker this week, and will be facing a big challenge in Kamerion Wimbley, who already has 10 pressures this year, so Sanchez’s passes will have to come quickly or out of the shotgun formation.
What do you think the keys to tomorrow's game will be? How nervous are you about Mangold's absence?