New York Jets 19 Oakland Raiders 14: Raiders fail to seize opportunity in East Rutherford
By Chase Ruttig
Sep 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) and New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) meet at midfield after a game at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Raiders 19-14. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
In the end the Oakland Raiders first performance of the 2014 NFL Season will receive a ton of mixed reactions as a game that had plenty of opportunities for the Raiders to turn around their misfortunes on the East Coast to start the year turned into what was a disappointing 19-14 loss. Facing a tough Rex Ryan defense and plenty of exotic blitz packages, offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s screen pass based offensive strategy never got on track which put pressure on a Raiders defense that did all they could to keep Oakland in the game before a Chris Ivory TD run finally put the Jets up two scores for good.
Oakland forced two turnovers in the first half, going up 7-3 early after a Charles Woodson interception set up rookie Derek Carr with good field position that was turned into a Rod Streater touchdown pass. Using that momentum the Raiders would force a punt and a goalline fumble on the next two Jets drives to set up the offense with more chances to take control before halftime but two punts near the 50 yard line would set up a Chris Johnson touchdown on a long New York drive to end the half with a 10-7 Jets lead.
After halftime the Raiders struggles on offense would continue as save for a touchdown drive on their last possession of the game that ended with a James Jones touchdown catch the Oakland offense spent the majority of time going three and out, needing the punting leg of Marquette King along with a strong performance by the defense who held the Jets to just nine points in the second half despite plenty of time on the field to remain in the game.
That goodwill by the Raiders defense to keep them within a touchdown of taking the lead eventually ran out with the long Ivory touchdown run, but credit to the Oakland defense that was led by impressive performances from Charles Woodson and Sio Moore for not letting up as Ivory’s run would be the last Jets score of the game.
Still even with as many chances as possible to get back into the game and a significant edge in the penalty department for a change, the Raiders would come up short of winning a game that they probably could have and should have won on the road if not for the Jets defense. Keeping the Raiders off the scoreboard before halftime and for nearly all of the second half, if it was not for the stout New York defense we may have been looking at a drastically different story for Oakland who had every chance to win after holding the Jets to just 19 points.
However that did not happen and after a good gameplan by the Jets defense along with missed opportunities from the Raiders who left their defense out to try after two forced turnovers along with numerous stands inside of their own territory head coach Dennis Allen’s team will be 0-1 going into their home opener against the Houston Texans. Facing a similarly strong pass rushing team it will be interesting to see if the Raiders can make any adjustments to get the job done next week as after failing to execute enough to seize a winnable game on the East Coast the pressure will be on to ensure that the start to 2014 doesn’t get worse for Oakland.
Sio Moore impresses in 2014 debut
Leaving the field after being carted out against the Green Bay Packers, many Raiders fans were worried about the status of 2013 draft pick Sio Moore heading into the 2014 regular season as the impressive outside linebacker would have been a huge loss if he didn’t return for Week One. Luckily Moore’s injury wasn’t as serious as it looked as the fan favorite suited up and impressed on Sunday for the Raiders.
Moore finished with 11 tackles, forcing two fumbles on quarterback Geno Smith including a strip sack that nearly stole 10 points off the board in total for the Raiders as his goal line strip of Geno Smith saved a touchdown before Moore nearly helped force another turnover on a third down sack in the second half in what was the best game of the former UCONN product’s career to date.
Oakland needs a lot of production from Moore this season and his presence gives the team two potential franchise outside linebackers along with 2014 fifth overall pick from Khalil Mack. Double digit tackles and two forced fumbles is a good start from Moore, whose season looked in trouble after his preseason injury. So far Raiders fans should be more than impressed with the play from their third round pick from last season.
Carr shines in spots despite limited playcalling
Derek Carr didn’t have many opportunities to showcase his strong deep ball on Sunday partly due to the Jets blitz packages and partly due to the insistence of Greg Olson to call as many screen passes as possible even when they were not working, but when Carr did go downfield he found some success in a game that will be mostly forgettable.
Despite a lack of consistency in driving the ball downfield, Carr managed to finish the game 20/32 for 151 yards and two touchdown passes, including a beautiful deep ball to the front corner of the end zone to James Jones late in the fourth quarter to bring Oakland within an onside kick of a potential comeback drive with over 1:30 left on the clock. Nothing to grab the headlines on SportsCenter this afternoon, but enough to show why the team has decided to go with him as their starter so soon.
Playing at home next week the Raiders may be wise to open up the playbook more to potentially showcase Carr’s downfield passing ability, something that was eventually allowed for Matt McGloin as a UDFA rookie quarterback last season. Pass rushing played a factor in how many short passes were thrown on Sunday, but fans will not be happy to see Greg Olson calling failed screen pass after failed screen pass again against the Texans after Carr showed flashes of promise when he did throw downfield on Sunday.
Running game struggles may be answered by Gabe Jackson blocking
Something that did not help Carr and the Oakland offense was a pretty mediocre showing by the running backs as Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew combined for just 26 yards on the ground total with rookie Latavius Murray receiving zero handoffs in his anticipated 2014 debut, a disappointing stat for an offense that was supposed to be run-based going into the season.
Jones-Drew looked to lack burst in the runs he did attempt, rarely breaking through the offensive line or to the edge on his nine carries for eleven yards while McFadden looked more explosive but was given just four carries for 15 yards, more than doubling his yards per carry compared to MJD whose average of 1.2 yards per touch on the ground is an early sign for concern for the veteran running back.
For a team that talked about being a running team that would make manageable situations for their quarterback on the ground (and with the screen pass), there is no way to sugercoat what went down on the field by the Oakland run blockers as well as the running backs who provided zero support for the passing game at all. It was also hard to blame Olson for going away from the run in the second half as the idea of sticking to something that was working even less than the short pass in getting Carr on schedule for manageable third down situations to move the chains.
Something that might be an answer to their problems is more runs behind rookie Gabe Jackson, one of the best run blockers in the SEC during his days at Miss. State. A big and impactful blocker in the run game, Olson may be wise to use Jackson’s biggest strengths to bolster a rushing game that got little accomplished on Sunday afternoon.
Week 2 a must win for Raiders
Now following a tough loss to the Jets that may or may not have been a game that Oakland could have won with better execution the focus will shift to their home opener next Sunday against a Texans team with a lot of similarities to the Jets including an even better pass rusher in JJ Watt who will surely be after the rookie Carr early and often.
Houston will be coming off a big Week 1 win over Washington and have veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick which will make the challenge of turning around the early part of 2014 difficult for head coach Dennis Allen, but the Raiders will need to find a way to do so to avoid starting their season off chasing a .500 record earlier than they want to. If that is going to happen things will need to get a lot better for the Raiders on offense, particularly in the running game, but after faltering in New York the pressure is now on the team to overcome and make that happen at home for the first time next Sunday.