Jets UK Chronicles – On To The Next One

Dave Balcombe and Nikki Charlesworth take a look at the Oakland Raiders and the potential challenges they face

After the loss to the Patriots the New York Jets will have to wait another week before they can attempt to surpass last year’s overall total in wins. Last week’s game was your typical Jets-Patriots showdown and like most, it did end in a Jets loss. Fortunately, Bowles’ newly installed mantras has aided this team to keep their head’s up, focused, looking on to what’s more important, the next game and putting this loss behind them.

For the first three quarters at least the Jets got most things right, but the experienced combination of Belichick and Brady proved too much for the new duo of Bowles and Fitzpatrick. Bowles stated soon after the game that there were “no moral victories” to take from the loss. Something that his loudly spoken predecessor would have likely clung on to in postgame pressers after a loss. Ironically, Bowles then chose to quote Vince Lombardi himself by saying “show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”.

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Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, played possibly one of his best games to date in green and white. After the early fumble, Fitz played a strong, leader’s performance. During this game the Jets’ previously formidable running game was put on hold. Ivory was playing with a sore hamstring and had only Zac Stacy, the last non-injured running back left to split reps with. This lead to only 89 yards rushing, 29 of which coming from the QB himself. What Fitz did to counter the loss of the run was to play himself  a solid game. The veteran QB played practically most of the tough loss in a manor only a varsity QB with a PhD could. He clock managed, scrambled intelligently, collected 19 first downs through passing and connected over half of his passes overall.

Even if these stats and performances weren’t to make it up for some once Ryan’s last minute poor decisions perhaps aided to the loss of the game, what cannot be forgotten is this Jets side currently has three more wins than this point last year and currently sit as real contenders for a wildcard spot in the AFC. The dream of postseason games does presently at least look plausible. With that said, other teams in this conference and actually the division itself are hot on the green and white’s tails. One of which the Jets play next. The vastly improving Oakland Raiders.  

A few surprising performances in 2015 from the Raiders have warranted extra caution when approaching this game. It won’t be as easy as the Jets first win last year. This Raiders team currently sit on a .500 3-3 record, one win away from tying with the Jets. The Raiders do too have other tough games down the line, Steelers, another AFC wildcard contender, Packers and division leaders, the Broncos, all yet to play. By season end, maybe the wildcard notion for the Raiders could be out of reach, however if not, a win sunday would certainly put the Jets in good stead. Like the Jets, their league leaders, Denver are 6-0 and if they continue to play anything like AFC East’s Patriots, these division winners are all but decided, therefore this game stresses the importance of beating fellow AFC opponents. The Jets definitely need to return to winning form in week 8 but what battles do they face?

The Jets offensive line boasts a record of allowing only four sacks, which is first overall and largely at thanks to prolific center, Nick Mangold. Mangold left the game in Foxborough with a potential neck injury. With scans taken place, the team’s worst fears were cleared, albeit he is still yet to train and looks extremely unlikely for sunday. This setback conjures its own unique set of problems as after Mangold, the C position’s depth drops dramatically and could show flaws in this new roster. Nobody ever expected the bearded warrior to fall, however now that he has and hopefully briefly, the responsibility still lies with his replacement. Most likely Dakota Dozier, a offensive tackle who had been moonlighting the role all camp and since.

The issue is not just replacing this six-time pro-bowler till he returns, it’s also the matter of that line facing strong defences. The Raiders defines, now somewhat lead by 2-year star Khalil Mack as well as Malcolm Smith, are ranking just second to the Jets when playing against the run. Having recorded 11 sacks also, they will undoubtedly challenge a weakened Jets O-line, seeking to stifle green and white strong suits of running the ball and protecting Fitz. It should be an interesting battle. 

Subsequently and once again similar to the Jets, Raiders too have strengths in protecting their quarterback. Holding the third overall position and allowing 10 sacks, this has helped 2nd round quarterback Derek Carr vastly improve his game. You’d need to dig deep to find 2nd round quarterbacks who have seen successes in the NFL, one being Andy Dalton, the surprise of 2015 and another being maybe Colin Kaepernick, but Carr is now turning heads. Notching 11 touchdowns this season with the assistance of possibly the best offensive player to come from this draft, Amari Cooper, Carr is proving he can be his team’s franchise QB. Last week alone the Oakland offence put up 37 points, 20 of which in one quarter. All of which under a red zone efficiency of 25%, proving Oakland are having no trouble working the ball down field. Getting to Carr could prove vastly important to the winning this game.

Cooper is likely to be marked by future hall of famer corner, Darrelle Revis, but it’s certain already this kid is the real deal having torched pro-bowler Joe Haden for 134 yards in week 4 and 133 yards last week. The Jets defense should aim to limit this duos supply and get after Carr. After all, he doesn’t have the Brady panache of releasing the ball quickly, so limiting the passes and allowing this Jets D-line to build appetite may make everyone happy. 

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Overall this game is a good test for the Jets facing adversity once again and is a must win game if they wish to continue their run for a wildcard space. Involving many hot match-ups, the likely best being the Rookie vs Vet combo of Cooper vs Revis should make it exciting. Will Cooper capture another 100+ yard game or will he inevitably become another lost traveller casted away on Revis Island. The Jets move onto week 8, 4-2.