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New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders: 5 Players Who Must Step Up On Sunday

Chris Dela RosaContributor ISeptember 22, 2011

New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders: 5 Players Who Must Step Up On Sunday

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    Last week the New York Jets ended their homestand with a 32-3 rout against the Jacksonville Jaguars, improving their record to 2-0.  

    This week, the Jets will begin a tough three game road trip that includes the Raider, Ravens and Patriots as they travel to Oakland to face the Raiders.

    While the Jets were able to dismantle the Jaguars, there were still plenty of mistakes that need to be cleaned up, especially if the Jets want to win their games against the Ravens and Patriots.  

    This list only includes offensive players, which says something great about the Jets defense.  

    For the most part everybody did their job on defense, therefore nobody on defense has to prove that they are beneficial to the team.

    On the other hand, the offense had plenty of mistakes whether it was Mark Sanchez's two interceptions or Wayne Hunter's inability to block that need to be fixed or else it will be a very long and depressing for the Jets.  

    So, without further ado, here is the list of New York Jets players that must step up Sunday against the Raiders.

    As always, feedback is welcome.  Enjoy!

Wayne Hunter

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    As the end of the 2010 season approached, the Jets lost their talented right tackle Damien Woody. 

    Wayne Hunter stepped in and was able to hold his own throughout the end of the regular season and into the playoffs.

    So far, 2011 has not been the best for Hunter as he has had two tough games to start of the year. 

    The first was against the Cowboys, when he had to block against DeMarcus Ware for a giant portion of the game. 

    Hunter was a little below average against Ware as he allowed Mark Sanchez to get pressured, hit and even sacked at times.

    Not much changed when the Jets played the Jaguars in Week 2 as Woody continued to let defensive lineman through. 

    Sanchez was hit a few times by players coming around the right side of the offensive line, and in the second quarter he had a terrible penalty as he grabbed an opponents face mask while trying to pass protect, moving the Jets back from 1st and 10 to 1st and 20.

    If the Jets want Mark Sanchez to grow as a passer and make smart decisions, the offensive line needs to give him some more time by protecting him, and that starts with the veteran Wayne Hunter.

Shonn Greene

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    This one has been repeated over and over again since before the season started, but Shonn Greene is one of the keys of the Jets offense and he has struggled thus far. 

    In the first two games of the season, Shonn Greene has carried the ball 26 times for a total of 75 yards with one touchdown.

     

    Greene’s statistics are nowhere near where they are expected to be. 

    Since Rex Ryan’s arrival, the Jets have been known for their ground and pound strategy. 

    In 2009 and 2010, the strategy worked very well with Thomas Jones, and LaDainian Tomlinson being the feature backs. Now, it seems as if the ground and pound is a thing in the past.

    While the passing game has carried the offense to start off this season, once the Jets start to play elite teams like the Patriots and Ravens, they will need to have a balanced offense. 

    In order for that to happen, there needs to be some sort of running game that can go along with the passing attack or else the Jets will be a one-dimensional offense that can be stopped easily. 

    The Jets are counting on Shonn Greene to be their running back now and in the future.

    He needs to step up to the plate and have a great game in order to restore the faith of Jets fans and members of the Jets organization.

Jeremy Kerley

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    Before the season, many people (including myself) hyped up the Jets replacement for Brad Smith, rookie Jeremy Kerley.

    After getting reps during the preseason and regular season, Kerley has not produced the way he was expected to.

    As of right now, Kerley has lost his spot on kickoff return as Antonio Cromartie has played very well.

    He returns kicks from the endzone almost every time and is averaging 27 yards for each return, his longest going for 46 yards. 

    While Cromartie is a good kick returner, he does not return punts, and that is where Kerley needs to shine.

    On three returns, Kerley has returned punts for a total of 13 yards, averaging 4.3 yards a return. 

    The TCU alum had great acceleration and could get in and out of cuts very well in college, but those skills have not carried over into how he performs with the Jets. 

    Considering his current statistics, and the fact that the Jets have one of the best special teams coaches in Mike Westhoff, he needs to do well against the Raiders if he wants to keep his spot as a punt returner.

    He has the scheme and talent, he just needs to execute.

Colin Baxter

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    Colin Baxter

    Against the Jaguars last week, the Jets lost a very valuable player in Nick Mangold to an ankle sprain when the Jets ran the ball up the middle with Shonn Greene. 

    Mangold will be out for a few weeks, so Mangold’s backup Colin Baxter will have to step in.

    Baxter will have a lot of pressure put on him the next few weeks that Mangold is out since after the Jets play the Raiders, they will travel to Foxboro and Baltimore for a tough road trip. 

    Baxter who used to be on the Chargers (as an undrafted free agent) until September 3rd, was added towards the end of the preseason. 

    Hopefully for the Jets he knows the playbook, that way they can utilize all of their weapons against a resurgent Raiders team. 

    One thing fans and critics should keep their eyes on for this game is penalties against the offensive line.  Last week, there were false start penalties against the Jets because of Baxter’s inexperience. 

    He moved the ball a few times, forcing other offensive lineman to move, having the penalty called on them and not Baxter. 

    All in all, Baxter is going to be counted on when the Jets travel to the “Black Hole” on Sunday, hopefully the issues he had last week have been fixed, since the Jets will not be able to get away with mistakes like they did against the Jaguars.

Mark Sanchez

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    Last week was Mark Sanchez’s chance to shine while going against the mediocre Jacksonville Jaguars defense, but his performance was very disappointing. 

    He started off well as he went 4-4 for 80 yards on the first drive of the game, but he could not follow it up as he threw an interception to start off the ensuing drive.

    Sanchez’s woes continued throughout the game as he threw another interception, luckily the Jets defense was able to recover and hold the Jaguars offense after each turnover. 

    Both times Sanchez threw an interception it was on third and long and he stared down his targets. 

    In order for the Jets passing game to be successful, Mark Sanchez needs to make better decisions on third down, he kept trying to force passes into crowded areas which led to interceptions. 

    It would not have been detrimental to the team if Sanchez chose to fall down or throw the ball away rather than throwing interceptions, against better teams, those interceptions could have been converted to touchdowns when the opponents offense took the field.

     

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