5 Questions With Black and Teal: Raiders at Jaguars

Oct 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio before the start of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio before the start of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

5 Questions with FanSided’s Jacksonville Jaguars site Black and Teal.

Jack Del Rio returns to familiar stomping grounds this weekend, as Oakland looks to get back to their winning ways against a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars team. Both teams were tagged as teams whose stock would steadily be rising once the season begins, yet the start of their 2016 campaigns shows one team fighting for their legitimacy as contenders, while the other is trying to get back in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Albeit the season is young, and seasons can completely turn around (2015 Chiefs??), Sunday’s tilt has the makings for some early afternoon fireworks. I got in touch with Black and Teal’s Editor Daniel Lago and asked him a few questions regarding some of the storylines for Sunday’s game.

Just Blog Baby is in bold.

Tipping things off,  both the Raiders and Jags were heavy players in free agency this year, which equated to new starters at major positions, and at all levels. The Raiders have struggled on the defensive side of the ball partly because of this turnover. How smoothly has the immersion of new talent (though FA and the draft) gone for Gus Bradley’s team?

The new pieces on defense have been hit or miss, but overall it’s a net positive. Jalen Ramsey is already playing like one of the best cornerbacks in the league, and Yannik Ngakoue is contributing about as much as you could from a rookie 3rd round pass rusher. Some of the other guys like Tashaun Gipson and Dante Fowler haven’t made a big impact consistently yet, but they certainly haven’t been liabilities. In all, most of the additions have stepped in played at a relatively high level.

I really liked the Ramsey pick, although it was probably a no-brainer at the spot for David Caldwell. Staying on struggles, Oakland’s defense has been, we can say, struggling… who’s licking their chops more this week? Allen Robinson or Allen Hurns? OR, is it the backfield combo of Yeldon and Ivory?

Jacksonville’s offense was supposed to be near the top of the league coming into the year, but that hasn’t panned out accordingly. Both of these groups have to be heavily locked in on staying par for the course against a very exploitable Oakland defense…

The Jaguars have nothing resembling a functional rushing attack, so don’t worry about Yeldon or Ivory. I would definitely keep an eye on the Allen’s, but my under the radar guy for this game is Julius Thomas. He’s been largely invisible for the first five games and I’m honestly shocked they aren’t trying to scheme up more plays for him. I think he breaks out a little bit this week as the Raiders are likely going to focus on Allen Robinson.

Functional or not, if Gus Bradley and his coaching staff watched any of last week’s game against KC, running the ball against this defense could get them out of a slump. I like Thomas as a breakout candidate as well. They paid him for a reason, and it wasn’t to black for that backfield.

I must say I was hoping Myles Jack would fall to Oakland in the second round. I feel the Jags finally received some good fortune through the draft, which certainly has been lacking in the past. What’s the narrative for his season thus far?

It’s been an odd year for Jack. The team said he could play any linebacker position when they drafted him, but they designated him as the second string middle linebacker behind Paul Posluszny in training camp. The idea was to put him in the best position to learn the defense, but it clearly was a little too much to put on his plate.

He flashed in the preseason as both the MLB and the weakside linebacker, but then he started the regular season out of the starting lineup. Fans and local media have clamored for Jack to go in for Dan Skuta at the “OTTO” spot (basically strongside linebacker), and that finally happened last week. He’s still sharing snaps with Skuta despite looking significantly better and fast than him. I’m not sure what the plan is for Jack, but for some reason he still isn’t a full time starter.

Interesting. Although, easing him back into the equation could be a smart move, if that is actually the plan. Karl Joseph did not record a snap until week 2, and has been starting and contributing heavily ever since. I have a sense clear skies will begin to open up for Jack.

Amari Cooper has been a handful for DB’s this season. Jalen Ramsey has plenty of folks entertaining the idea of considering him a future “shutdown corner”. Does he shadow Cooper for most of the afternoon? If so, who wins this matchup?

The Jaguars have never had a shutdown corner with Gus Bradley so I wasn’t sure they actually did that, but Ramsey followed Alshon Jeffery all over the field last week. Jeffery got the better of Ramsey in the first half, but Jalen shut him down completely in the second half. I think the Cooper is a tough matchup but Ramsey seems to have a knack for covering these bigger receivers. I think Cooper still has his fair share of receptions, but I don’t think he has a monster game.

I look forward to this matchup most. Ramsey is a huge corner, with length, strength and quickness that he can use to his advantage. Jeffrey and Cooper are very different receivers, with Cooper already being the more polished. Cooper and Ramsey will most likely be among the best at their positions for years to come.

What is an absolute necessity the Jags must abide by to win this game and reach 500.?

Don’t turn the ball over. That’s the big one. The Jaguars have a winning record when Blake Bortles doesn’t throw an interception and they have a losing record (by a big margin) when he does. The defense will likely keep this game close, so it’ll be up to Bortles to play smart and manufacture a few big plays.

Give me a prediction for Sunday.

The Raiders are just the better team right now with a quarterback who’s playing much better than the Jaguars’ guy. I think the Jaguars won’t be able to keep up with Carr and I expect Michael Crabtree to have a good game. Raiders 30 – Jaguars 17.