Oakland Raiders Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: 10 Keys for Raiders To Keep Winning
This week, Tom Cable will lead the Oakland Raiders into Florida to take on Jack Del Rio and the Jacksonville Jaguars. This game will be of paramount importance for the Raiders to stay in the playoff hunt.
David Garrard is having a great season, Maurice Jones-Drew is running hard and the Jaguars defense is playing better in recent weeks.
Like the Raiders, the Jaguars are a team on the rise. They are currently leading the AFC South and will be looking to solidify that lead by beating the resurgent Raiders.
The Jaguars have their weaknesses and the Raiders have an opportunity to exploit them.
Let's have a look at what it will take for the Raiders to earn themselves a crucial road win.
Stay With Your Strengths
This is not rocket science. The Jaguars are ranked 17th against the run and the Raiders are 3rd in rushing offense.
Gee...I wonder what Oakland should do? Another game plan like the one that beat San Diego will do nicely.
52 runs and only 16 passes is exactly what Hue Jackson needs to do to give the Raiders the best chance to win.
Oakland fans are very familiar with Jaguars middle linebacker Kirk Morrison. He's a decent cover guy, but doesn't get off blocks or stop the run very well at all.
Raider Nation should hope that Hue Jackson sees this glaring weakness in the Jaguars and take advantage of it by getting Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Marcel Reece the ball early and often.
Be Solid On The Interior Offensive Line
The Jaguars don't have the best defensive line in football, but they are solid at the defensive tackle position.
Terrance Knighton and rookie Tyson Alualu aren't Pro-Bowl players, but they can cause the offense some problems.
Samson Satele, Robert Gallery and Cooper Carlisle will have their hands full with these two, high-motor players.
I would suggest that Satele and Carlisle be on a very "short leash." If they struggle even one play, put Daniel Loper or Khalif Barnes in to stop any problems before they snow-ball.
Fans should keep their eyes on the interior line play.
Let Jason Campbell Do What He Does Best
Jason Campbell is not the type of quarterback that can carry a team alone. He is a great game manager that does certain things extremely well.
The Raiders' coaches have to allow him to do what he can, without expecting more.
Play action passes, bootlegs and waggles are in Campbell's "wheelhouse."
Don't ask him to win the game with his arm. Ask him to win it by getting the ball to his playmakers and move the chains with some short passes on third down.
Like I suggested earlier, if the Raiders are moving the ball on the ground and Campbell is only required to make 15 pass attempts, the Raiders will be in good shape.
Abuse The Jaguars Linbackers
Kirk Morrison, Daryl Smith and Justin Durant are not the most physical linebackers in the league.
For this reason, Jackson and Cable should call Michael Bush and Marcel Reece's numbers quite a bit.
Let the bigger, more physical backs pound on those guys until they tire and quit. As a long-time Raider fan, I have seen this technique work on Kirk Morrison numerous times.
Once the linebackers are worn out, Darren McFadden and Zach Miller will have nearly free roam in the short middle of the field.
This, more than anything, will help Campbell in the passing game.
Test Cornerback Derek Cox
Derek Cox is early in his development in just his second year. With Rashean Mathis lined up on the other side, the Raiders should attack this young man.
Cox has great size and speed, but he doesn't have the speed to match up with Jacoby Ford, nor the size to cover Chaz Schilens, (If he plays.)
I'm not saying the Raiders should go deep a lot, but when they do, they should stay away from Mathis.
I can see a few seven step, max protect drops and some play action deep passes having success against Cox.
Jackson should do it just enough to make them believe they're willing to do it.
Stop...okay...contain Maruice Jones-Drew
Maurice Jones-Drew reminds me a lot of Napoleon Kaufman. Small in stature, big on strength and speed.
Arm tackles won't work, mental errors will kill you and thinking he's stuffed in a pile will get you killed against the league's second leading rusher.
The Raider defense needs to just keep doing what they did against the Chargers—plug the lanes, eliminate the cut-backs and make solid, form tackles.
A hit on Jones-Drew like the one Rolando McClain put on Darren Sproles last week won't intimidate him like it did Sproles—it's likely to not even get him to the ground.
I have two words of advice for Raider defenders—"WRAP UP!"
Don't Sleep On The Jaguars' Receivers
Even though the Jaguars are a run oriented team, (they run 53 percent of the time) they are passing the ball pretty well lately.
Mike Sims-Walker is the receiver you've heard of, but he's not leading the team in catches, yards or touchdowns. However, he still needs to be accounted for.
Mike Thomas leads the team in receptions and yards. This second year player is small, but has great speed and great hands.
The "touchdown-maker" for the Jaguars is tight end Marcedes Lewis. Lewis is a big man and a match up nightmare. The linebackers and safeties have to be ready for this guy.
The Jaguars fourth leading receiver is Jones-Drew. Kamerion Wimbley and Quentin Groves will need to be diligent about covering Jones-Drew.
Mike Mitchell will be needed to help with Lewis and Stevie Brown is well suited to spell Tyvon Branch in passing situations to make up for Branch's deficiency in coverage.
The "Heavy Nickel" package I discussed in my Charger game preview article might help out with Lewis and tight end "the other" Zach Miller.
Don't Let David Garrard Out Of The Pocket
Much like Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, David Garrard is a quarterback that can hurt you if you let him out of the pocket—but in different ways.
If Garrard is allowed out of the pocket, he won't find the open receiver open down field. He'll just take off and run for big yards and touchdowns.
He must be kept inside the pocket.
To that end, the Raider defensive ends have to be mindful of getting too deep on their rush. Rushing beyond the quarterback will open up running lanes for Garrard to exploit.
Lamarr Houston and Matt Shaughnessy will have to pay particular attention to how deep Garrard sets up and limit the offensive tackle's ability to push them beyond that point.
If Garrard gets free, it will be a long day for the defense. If Garrard is forced to throw from the pocket, it gives the Raiders' a better chance at victory.
Keep On Blitzing
Kamerion Wimbley, Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff have shown great talent for blitzing. Defensive coordinator John Marshall needs to keep using those talents.
Don't mistake what I'm saying, the Raiders shouldn't blitz only in passing situations to get to the quarterback. They should also mix in some run blitzes on first and second down and eight to 10 yards to go.
Run blitzes in the "A and B gaps" (between center and guard) will not only apply pressure in Garrard's face in passing situations, but it will also clog the running lanes and limit the Jaguars' rushing attack.
The blitz has won many games for the Raiders. Both Charger games as well as the Denver and Seattle games were controlled by the defense. That control was exerted with the blitz.
Blitzing a lot will go a long way against the Jaguars too.
Kickers Could Decide This Game
Everyone knows that Sebastian Janikowski has the biggest leg in the NFL. Unfortunately, he is one of the most inconsistent road kickers in the league too.
The Jaguars have a solid kicker of their own. Josh Scobee isn't going to kick any 60 yarders, but he's likely to make every attempt he gets. Especially at home.
If Janikowski has a game like the one in Phoenix against the Cardinals, it may cost the Raiders the game again.
Special teams coordinator John Fassel needs to make sure Jankiowski is ready and his kicking motion is flawless.
This game is critical for the Raiders. If they want to be taken seriously, they'll have to beat the AFC South leading Jaguars.
If the Raiders want to stay alive in the hunt for the AFC West title, they'll need to win every game the rest of the way.
The Jaguars run more than they pass (53 to 47 percent) so stopping the run will be key. Disciplined gap responsibility and solid tackling will be key against the league's second leading rusher, Maurice Jones-Drew.
On offense, Hue Jackson can't expect Jason Campbell to put the team on his back and win it on his own. He needs to call more run plays than pass plays and use Campbell's great ball handling skills with play action and bootleg passes.
Hopefully for Raider Nation, the Chargers will be angry and take it out on the Chiefs. If that happens, and the Raiders institute a game plan that resembles this one, Oakland can emerge from week 14 in striking distance of the division lead and a playoff berth.
What do you think Raider Nation? Will this plan work? Will it fail? What did I miss? Let me hear you in the comments.