Saturday, September 6, 2014

Jets Set to Take on Raiders in Opener

Jets vs. Raiders
Sunday 1:00 p.m. ET

The wait is finally over, the preseason is now to the side and finally the real thing is about to begin. Football returns this weekend with a full slate of action, and now we are going to find out whether or not the retooled New York Jets are as good as they've been talking about all summer long.

The Jets have talked, and talked, and talked that they are ready to become a playoff team again, harkening back to the days of 2009, 2010 and 2011 when Rex Ryan couldn't help himself but make one bold proclamation after another, no matter how foolish it made him look in the end.

After walking the John Idzik tightrope last season, Ryan and the Jets are back to their old tricks. Just take their recent missives to the media this week as they prepare for the Oakland Raiders in Week 1.

" Woody Johnson is on record that he is not satisfied with 8-8.
“Hell no, I want to be better than that,” Ryan said, “and we’re gonna be better than that.
“I don’t care what the schedule, what this, who’s out, who’s not — doesn’t matter. There’s no excuses. We know what we’re capable of doing, and the great thing is it starts Sunday, and we’ll see who’s right and who’s wrong.”
Ryan is no longer the only one who isn’t interested in kissing Bill Belichick’s rings.
“I think this team is great,” Quinton Coples told The Post’s Brian Costello, “think this team is built to go to war with anybody.
“Can we stand up to them? Can we play them? Will we go out and give them our best shot? Yeah, I think so. I think we’re the team to do it.“
Ryan told his team at the start of training camp that his plan to knock off the Patriots involved sweeping them in the regular season and then welcoming them to MetLife for a playoff game," (Steve Serby, New York Post 9/5/14).

So there you have it, just another example of the Jets hubris coming into 2014. They have high expectations, and why not? The Jets are coming off a shocking 8-8 season in 2013 that saved Ryan from the firing squad last year inspite of a lackluster offense and a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith.

This season the Jets bring back a fierce front seven led by lineman Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson. Richardson was the defensive rookie of the year last year. The Jets should have one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL, but their biggest concern will be the secondary.

Starting on Sunday against the Raiders, the Jets will be without Dee Millner who is out with a high ankle sprain. Dimitri Paterson, who the Jets brought in during training camp was cut because he went AWOL during the Giants preseason game, and gave no good reason for missing that contest. Therefore, the club is forced to start Antonio Allen and Darrin Walls at corner. 

If the Jets are going to have one weakness against Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr it is that secondary, which he can exploit. Even looking beyond the Raiders game, it will be very hard for the Jets to keep teams from raking up yards and points on them through the air. Milliner didn't exactly light the league on fire last year; Kyle Wilson is a bust, and Allen and Walls lack experience.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Jets are hoping that Geno Smith can translate his performance in the preseason into the regular season. This summer, Smith was much more poised and confident in the pocket. He was hitting his receivers at a very high rate, and looks much more comfortable in Marty Mornhinweg's offense.

While it remains to be seen if Smith can play well enough to keep the starting job, he's gotta like the fact he has Chris Johnson behind him. Johnson, AKA CJ2K was a big time running back for the Tennessee Titans before his release in the offseason. Look for Johnson to have a big impact on the Jets throughout the course of 2014. He will also give a break to Chris Ivory, who was terrific last season for New York when he rushed for over 800 yards.

WHAT TO EXPECT SUNDAY: Expect the Jets to rely heavily on their ground attack of Johnson and Ivory on Sunday against the Raiders. The Raiders gave up 3.9 yards a carry and 15 rushing touchdowns last season. Even though Oakland has added a lot of veteran pieces, they aren't that good defensively and could get exposed if the Jets run wild on Sunday.

The Jets passing attack might be New York's biggest weakness, since outside of Eric Decker they lack any real NFL experience and depth at the position.

Meanwhile for the Raiders, it will be fascinating to see how Carr handles his first NFL start. He lit it up in preseason and won the starting job from Matt Schaubb after ripping apart the Seahawks 3rd string defense. I don't know if that's a good thing or another mistake by embattled Raider coach Dennis Allen. Carr looks like one of the more polished rookie quarterbacks coming into the league this year, but handling a Rex Ryan blitz package might be a rough start.

The only way the Raiders can succeed is if Carr can find enough time to hit his receivers and let them run wild on a porous Jets secondary. 

Inside the Series: The Jets meet the Raiders for the second consecutive year at the Meadowlands. It is the first time since the 2005-2006 seasons that the Jets hosted the Raiders back-to-back years.

Since 1997, the Jets have face the Raiders only four times at home. New York is 4-0 in those games. The Jets are 3-7 against the Raiders at the Coliseum since 1999.

Sunday's season opener will be fifth straight season the Jets open at home. New York is 3-1 in their last four season/home openers. 

PREDICTION: JETS 27, RAIDERS 20: This will turn out to be a pretty competitive football game between two teams that are likely heading for mediocre results in 2014. Geno Smith will play well enough to lead the Jets to a late touchdown drive to pull away from Oakland. As for the Raiders, Carr will struggle early, but should come on in the second half and play a little bit better to keep the Raiders within shouting distance. Expect the Jets to get at least four sacks of the rookie, Sunday afternoon.

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