Oakland Raiders Vs. Jets Preview: Keys to the Game

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Jun 9, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio (left) and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

1. Open up the Playbook

Last week in the dominating win over the Chargers, the Raider offense put together perhaps its best effort of the year, scoring on 7 consecutive possessions and not punting until midway through the 3rd quarter up 37-6. After struggling to move the ball and finish drives against Chicago and Denver and turning the ball over a total of five times, the Raider offense appeared to have made the best use of the bye week.

Bill Musgrave, known for his creative play design, had a couple of new wrinkles installed against the weak Charger defense, allowing Derek Carr to have one of his best games as a pro. The Raider offense didn’t do anything highly exotic, however.  The Raiders offense took advantage of a Charger defense missing two key starters that already struggled to rush the passer and stop the run coming into the game.

The Raiders offensive line dominated the Chargers front, and the Raiders managed 5.0 yards per carry and allowed only one sack. The talented Charger secondary, missing it’s captain in free safety Eric Weddle, simply couldn’t stop the Raiders play action game or an incredibly comfortable Derek Carr who had time all day long.

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On Sunday against the Jets, the Raiders will have no such luxury. The Jets are the second-ranked defense in the league, allowing only 283.2 yards per game.

The Jets are ranked fourth against the pass and lead the league in rushing defense. The Jet defense has almost no apparent weakness: they have likely the best two-deep defensive line rotation in football (Leger Douzable and Sheldon Richardson are technically second stringers), an instinctive, athletic and hard-hitting linebacker corps, and the unparalleled cornerback tandem of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

While safety Calvin Pryor and nickel corner Buster Skrine (who could be a starting boundary corner for half the teams in the league) will likely miss the game or at least be limited, this well-coached defense is intact coming into the matchup against the Raiders.

The Raiders couldn’t do anything against the Broncos defense just a three weeks ago, and also struggled to find points against a very mediocre Bears unit a week prior to that. Vanilla play calling and heavy reliance on the play action game (which requires the run) and the screen pass (which relies on slow linebackers and poor tackling in the secondary) won’t get it done against the Jets. Instead, Musgrave may want to try showing something the Jets haven’t seen on tape, with some tendency breaking plays that use new formations and personnel combinations to create confusion and mismatches.

Amari Cooper isn’t going to just double-move Darrelle Revis to death, and the Raiders aren’t going to do much in the run game this week, most likely. This game will come down to Musgrave’s ability to design and install new plays, and Derek Carr’s ability to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers quickly and keep ahead of the chains. It’s going to be a grind-it-out type of game, but that doesn’t mean the playcalling should be Woody Hayes-esque.

Next: Keys to the Game: Force Fitzpatrick to Beat You