New York Jets vs. Oakland Raiders: What's the Game Plan for Oakland?

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2015

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 07:  Safety Dewan Landry #26 of the New York Jets sacks Quarterback Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium on September 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Pereira/New York Jets/Getty Images)
Al Pereira/Getty Images

The better passing attack will provide an edge in the Oakland Raiders’ Week 8 matchup with the New York Jets. Both teams field a top-five run defense playing at full strength.

Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson will play in his third game since serving a four-game suspension. Raiders defensive tackle Justin Ellis practiced the entire week and expects to play Sunday.

Raiders’ Pass Attack Hurdles 

Anyone who believes that wide receiver Amari Cooper doesn’t play a huge role in this game should refer to the first six games:

The Amari Cooper Effect
WeekReceiving YardsTouchdownsTeam Result
1470Loss
21091Win
31340Win
4491Loss
5470Loss
6BYEN/AN/A
71331Win
Pro-Football-Reference.com

For Oakland, there’s no measurement for Cooper’s crucial role in every contest. Second-year wideout Seth Roberts still needs grooming. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave awakened a potential threat in tight end Clive Walford, who had two receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown in Oakland's Week 7 37-29 win over the San Diego Chargers.

If Cooper struggles, wideout Michael Crabtree cannot carry the load alone. It’s important for the Raiders to implement another offensive threat in this week's game plan. What's the alternative? Putting all their chips in Cooper and beating Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, as explained in a previous discussion.

  

Jets’ Pass Attack Hurdles

According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the Jets may take the field without six-time Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold:

While Mangold’s status remains inconclusive, his presence on the field extends beyond coordinating the offensive line. Bleacher Report’s Connor Hughes coined him the "second quarterback" of the Jets offense:

Mangold is viewed as the second quarterback on the Jets line, and Ryan Fitzpatrick made reference Monday to how many times the center has "saved my butt." Not having the big man on the field to face a defensive front that features Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith? That could spell trouble.

Without Mangold, the Jets will call upon two potential replacements:

Meet Nick Mangold's Potential Replacements (Regular Season)
PlayerCareer SnapsGames Started at Center
Dakota Dozier50
Wesley Johnson00
Pro Football Focus

The experience drop-off becomes crucial in setting up the pass protection. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick may need to scramble more often to escape pressure up the middle.

How should the Raiders cover the wide receivers in case Fitzpatrick finds time to throw outside the pocket?

T.J. Carrie at Cornerback

Safety Charles Woodson provides enough coverage alone deep in the secondary. Fitzpatrick doesn’t have a cannon for an arm and hasn’t shown good results when throwing 20 or more yards down the field:

Ryan Fitzpatrick Somewhat Ineffective Going Deep?
Deep Pass Attempts*CompletionsYardsTouchdownsInterceptions
28516613
Pro Football Focus

*Note: Deep pass attempts qualify as pass attempts 20 or more yards downfield.

Fitzpatrick completed five passes downfield in the first six games. There’s no need for re-enforcement in addition to Woodson’s perfect timing when breaking on a deep ball.

In regard to the passing attack, New York will rely heavily on its starting wide receivers. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker have amassed eight touchdown receptions and 911 receiving yards.

Oakland Raiders safety T.J. Carrie in coverage against the Cleveland Browns
Oakland Raiders safety T.J. Carrie in coverage against the Cleveland BrownsJason Miller/Getty Images

As Oakland’s best cornerback, T.J. Carrie must neutralize one of those primary weapons on the perimeter. With a banged-up shoulder, he should shadow Decker. Marshall stands at 6’4”, 230 pounds as a physical receiver who doesn’t shy away from contact.

Yes, Carrie covered Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green in Week 1. However, Carrie didn’t have a shoulder issue. Green weighs 207 pounds, nearly 25 pounds lighter than Marshall. The Bengals receiver also plays with more finesse and quickness compared to the Jets' go-to receiver. Green didn’t explode, but he still caught five passes for 63 yards.

Cornerback David Amerson should match up against Marshall with safety Larry Asante, who's a solid tackler, hovering over the top.

Success in the Slot 

When attacking the Jets defense, opposing offenses have found success with receivers lined up in the slot position. Much credit to Revis for shutting down a portion of the field, but at times, the Jets struggle to take advantage.

In Week 2, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief accumulated the second-most receiving yards (122) in his two-year career against the Jets, playing from the slot. He scored a touchdown in the first example: 

Credit: NFL.com

Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie shows a press coverage with one high safety.

Credit: NFL.com

Moncrief runs 10 yards into his route, stutter steps and breaks down the middle on Cromartie. 

Credit: NFL.com

Moncrief’s speed and stutter step opens the secondary for a 26-yard touchdown reception. 

In Week 7, New England Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola converted nine targets into eight receptions, one for a touchdown. Here’s the touchdown play: 

Credit: NFL.com

Amendola must beat Marcus Williams, the slot cornerback, and the safety for the score.

Credit: NFL.com

The wideout precisely breaks off his route inside, leaving the cornerback behind. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady delivers an accurate pass over the middle with the safety starring at the pocket. 

Whether it’s Cromartie or the slot cornerback, the Raiders need a third receiver to alleviate pressure on the starting wide receivers. The Jets have solid coverage on the perimeter, but quicker slot receivers pose a threat on the inside. 

According to the Jets’ official website, starting safety Calvin Pryor will miss Sunday’s game with an ankle injury. It’s a perfect situation to feature Walford in a mismatch against backup safety Dion Bailey, who’s struggled in coverage with the Seattle Seahawks and Jets this season:

Meet Calvin Pryor's Replacement, Dion Bailey
SnapsTargetedRecs AllowedYards AllowedTDs Allowed
6012101051
Pro Football Focus

Musgrave should consider positioning Walford in the slot in case Roberts continues to struggle. The rookie tight end possesses the athletic ability and reliable hands to beat a smaller defensive back on the inside.

Prediction

Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall scores a touchdown against the Washington Redskins
Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall scores a touchdown against the Washington RedskinsAl Pereira/Getty Images

Cooper must have some success as a contribution to a potential Raiders victory. He doesn’t necessarily need 100 yards, but the rookie must establish a flow or score a touchdown to avoid stagnation on the vertical attack.

Musgrave should consider moving Cooper into the slot and using his speed to exploit a slower or less talented defensive back.

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. doesn’t have to worry about defending an athletic tight end, but he’s tasked with blanketing a huge target in Marshall. Carrie’s shoulder injury and size presents a disadvantage against a physical 6’4”, 230-pound receiver. Amerson will play a huge role in covering Marshall or Decker.

Mangold’s potential absence puts Fitzpatrick at a disadvantage, but he’s mobile enough to escape pressure. Thus far, he's scampered for 112 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries this season.

The Raiders’ void in the slot and conservative tight end use doesn’t bode well for the offense with Cooper matched against Revis. 

On the other hand, Marshall could have a big game against Oakland’s secondary. He's recorded over 100 yards in four out of six games with at least 60 receiving yards in every contest. His production will become the difference maker on Sunday.

Jets 20, Raiders 17

Follow Maurice Moton on Twitter for news, updates and intriguing discussion about the Oakland Raiders.

All statistics are provided by Pro-Football-Reference.comPro Football Focus and Team Rankings unless otherwise noted. 

Player measurements courtesy of Bengals.com and Newyorkjets.com.

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