Tale Of The Tape: Oakland Raiders At New York Jets
- QuarterbackThe Raiders hope to pull out of the malaise they have been in for the last 11 years. They have not earned a spot in the postseason since reaching the Super Bowl following the 2002 season, and have just three playoff appearances in the last 20 years. Inserting rookie Derek Carr into the starting lineup is a bold move for head coach Dennis Allen, but he obviously has much to learn.The Jets have the semblance of a cohesive offense this season, but turning that into reality will likely fall on the shoulders of second-year quarterback Geno Smith. While he was troubled by interceptions and turnovers in his rookie season, Smith had an excellent training camp and should be ready for a big year. He is a solid athlete with excellent arm strength who must improve his decision making.
- OffenseThe Raiders come into 2014 with limited talent at the skill positions. Maurice Jones-Drew is perhaps their biggest name, but the running back does not appear to be a difference maker at this point in his career. Rod Streater caught 60 passes for 888 yards last year and he should improve this season. Denarius Moore averaged 15.1 yards per catch and can stretch the field.The Jets have had a solid ground game for years, and they should be even better this season with the addition of explosive Chris Johnson. The former Titan still has breakaway speed, and he wants to show his new team he can still hit the home run. Eric Decker is a huge upgrade at the wide receiver spot, while Jeremy Kerley (43 catches) knows how to get open.
- DefenseWhile the Raiders ranked 21st in overall defense last year, they were a respectable 10th against the run. If they can upgrade the pass defense, they could climb the ladder quite a bit. The Raiders brought in former Giant Justin Tuck to improve their pass rush. Tuck had 11.0 sacks last year and is hungry to show his new team that they brought in a star. DE LaMarr Woodley should help the defensive line.The defense has provided the signature for the Jets throughout the Rex Ryan era. They have a solid 3-4 defense and it would not be surprising if both Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson made the Pro Bowl this season. Inside linebacker David Harris had 123 tackles last season and is one of Ryan’s most dependable players. Dee Milliner (ankle) has a chance to become an elite cornerback this season.
- Special TeamsSebastian Janikowski still has explosive leg strength, but he is no longer consistent enough to be considered dependable. He made just 21-of-30 FG attempts last year. Marquette King can punt the ball a long way – 48.1-yard average – but the Raiders’ coverage was often poor last year.The Jets were thrilled with the job that Nick Folk did a year ago as he connected on 33-of-36 FG attempts and was largely impervious to pressure. Robert Quigley averaged 45.5 yards per punt, but the Jets also struggled with poor punt coverage.
The Jets should be in a position to open the season with a strong performance in Week One. They need to establish Smith as a consistent performer, while the defense should be able to shut down an ordinary Oakland offense. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports