By Tyson Rauch
This Sunday the New York Jets (5-7) will try to end their three-game losing streak against the Oakland Raiders (4-8) at MetLife Stadium. The Raiders will be an interesting match-up for the Jets as the team has been playing very competitive football in recent weeks.
Emergence of McGloin
One of the biggest stories in Oakland has been the play of rookie quarterback Matt McGloin. The Raiders signal caller has done a tremendous job of managing the offense while making some big plays under pressure. McGloin appears fearless in the pocket and is not scared to take a big hit in order to make a play downfield.
Raiders ground and pound
Matt McGloin has been assisted by a fifth ranked running game that features two explosive running backs in Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden. Both of these backs are dangerous in open space and can take advantage of mismatches in the passing game.
The New York Jets defense must continue the trend of stifling their opponents running game. If the Jets struggle to stop the run, their secondary will get exposed by the Raiders vertical passing game. This is a big game for linebackers Demario Davis and David Harris along with safety Dawan Landry.
The Raiders passing game features several explosive receivers that are starting to find their way in the NFL. With Denarius Moore battling an injury Rod Streater (43 catches), Jacoby Ford, and Andre Holmes have all made big plays in the passing game.
The Jets secondary will be challenged by the size of the Raider receivers (over six feet tall) as well as their speed. If Gang Green allows Matt McGloin time to throw the ball the struggling backfield could get exposed once again. Keep an eye on defensive back Dee Milliner as he has become the primary target for most of the opposing offensive coordinators.
Geno remains the starter
The New York Jets offense will be led by quarterback Geno Smith who was benched Sunday against the Dolphins. Expect the Raiders (ranked 10th against the run) to stack the box in order to slow down the ground game and put pressure on Geno. Gang Green’s offensive line must find a way to control the line of scrimmage in an effort to establish some type of offense.
Catch the darn ball
The Jets wide receivers could do their rookie quarterback a favor by running better routes and consistently catching the football. The Raiders defense has struggled against the pass (ranked 24th), which means that there are some plays to be made if the offensive line can give Geno Smith some time. Look for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to try to get David Nelson, Santonio Holmes, and Jeff Cumberland more involved in the game plan.
Let the kid play
The key to the Jets success on Sunday is Geno Smith and his ability to bounce back from dreadful performances. Smith has to find a way to get the offense rolling and this starts with aggressive play calling. Marty Mornhinweg cannot enter the game with a conservative game plan that handcuffs Geno. Predictable play calling results in a stagnant offense which plays into the hands of an aggressive defense.
Mornhinweg has to open up the offense and let the kid throw the ball downfield. If Smith struggles, then back to the bench he goes. You cannot compete in the National Football League if you are scared to call plays for your quarterback.
Will the real Jets stand up?
All season long Rex Ryan has boasted about his team’s chemistry and leadership. Well it is put up or shut up time for Ryan’s team as the organization is on the verge of a serious late season collapse.
For more Jets news and updates, visit Jets Central.
Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.