In our first look at the Raiders, here's five storylines from Oakland to consider before the Jets come out of the tunnel on Sunday to face their old adversaries:
The Jets won't get to beat up on Matt Schaub
The Jets secondary is trying to find their way right now as they deal with the injury of CB Dee Milliner. The opportunity to take on Matt Schaub would have been the perfect antidote while the Jets buy Dee Milliner more time to get healthy. Raiders coach Dennis Allen might have been praising Schaub up and down for months, but the writing was on the wall; Schaub is an old and done NFL quarterback, posting a 13:19 TD-to-INT ratio with five pick-sixes in his last 16 games. Somehow, the Raiders looked past those concerning numbers to pay him eight million dollars. Schaub was a a man paired with Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins and still couldn't get the job done.
Instead, the Jets will see rookie QB Derek Carr who has been named the starter after a fine performance in the Raiders last preseason game against the Seahawks. Carr saw the first 16 minutes against Seattle's backups and threw for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Allen admitted Carr's performance played into his decision to start Carr. "It was a factor in it," Allen said. "We've seen signs of Derek Carr's development from the day he started camp this year until where he's at right now. We've seen him grow by leaps and bounds and I think he's ready to accept the challenge."
Reading his scouting report, the younger brother of former NFL QB David Carr is known as a gunslinging quarterback who can roll out and extend plays with a live arm when the play breaks down. Expect the Jets to pressure Carr but don't be suprised if Carr can connect on some downfield strikes against a depleted Jets secondary.
Menelik Watson and the domino theory
Watson was the Raiders second-rounder in 2013 and he has failed to take control of the team's right tackle spot and they will start 32 year old veteran Khalif Barnes in his stead. Barnes played left tackle to start 2013 for the Raiders and was moved inside to left guard after a rough 11 games. The Raiders signed the much more efficient Donald Penn to anchor the left side with a solid interior group including Gabe Jackson (LG) Stefen Wisniewski (C) and former Jet Austin Howard (RG). The Raiders missing on Watson is certainly not good news for Reggie McKenzie, but the second year player's inability to step up will force more pressure and attention from opposing defenses on the right side of the Raiders line.
Placing Barnes on the Raiders right side of the line will be something that coach Dennis Allen will try to cover up with tight ends on that side of the formation, but the Jets pass rushers are a group set up to take advantage of Barnes. Look for the Jets to test Barnes early and often during the game as the group's weakest point.
Denarius Moore poised for a breakout?
Moore was a player for whom great things were once expected, but the excitement has died down due to his production in recent years. Moore admits that in recent years he's put too much pressure on himself and now he's ready to let the game come to him. “I was worried about being the go-to guy," Moore told the San Francisco Chronicle. "[I've been] building up that pressure on myself when I didn’t have to.”
Could Moore be back on the map as a star player? With the addition of James Jones and Maurice Jones-Drew, there's more complementary players. The removal of the ever-weakening armed Schaub can't do anything but help as well. Moore has a growing chemistry with Carr, catching two touchdowns from the rookie quarterback in the preseason finale.
Change of travel plans
The Raiders have a notorious recent history of struggling in games played on the east coast. Oakland has lost 13 straight games in the Eastern Time Zone, eight of which have come during current Raiders coach Dennis Allen's tenure. Dating further back, since December of 2002 (the winning season for the Raiders), Oakland is 5-30 in the Eastern Time Zone.
Football players creatures of habit, and in an effort to break the trend Raiders coach Dennis Allen has made plans for his team to travel east on Thursday. The Raiders will hold a practice on Friday in the New York area before a walk-through on Saturday as a method to better prepare for Sunday's game. In the past, the Raiders have traveling all day Friday and it would seem that Allen thinks this is a better plan for his players. The Raiders have three eastern time zone games this season, but so far they've just committed to the plan this weekend as an experiment.
No team for old men
The Raiders are among the NFL's oldest teams -- in fact, they are the oldest. While Oakland might bring their experience with them east, Marty Mornhinweg might try to expose the Raiders collective age (and lack of speed) with his gameplan but trying to get many situations where the Jets ballcarrier (runner or receiver) into isolation outside the hashmarks.