Jets vs. Raiders: 3 things to watch
Losers of three straight, the Jets are in must-win territory at 5-7. The good news for a struggling offense is that the Raiders aren’t very good either.
At 4-8, Oakland is just playing out the season. Their defense has been average for much of the year and their offense sputters for much of their games, but their ground game is No. 5 in the league, averaging 133.1 yards per game. In fact in the month of November, the Raiders rushed for 625 yards in four games.
The Jets and the Raiders last faced each other in Oakland two years ago, a 34-24 win for the Raiders.
Three things to watch for …
1. Rookie vs. rookie
Raiders rookie quarterback Matt McGloin is making just his fourth NFL start, with Oakland having posted a 1-2 record in his first three starts. McGloin was an undrafted free agent out of Penn State but he’s made shrewd decisions and has thrown just two interceptions. Last week, in a 31-24 loss at the Cowboys, McGloin was 18-of-30 for 255 yards and one interception.
“I definitely have a long way to go – made some mistakes in the three starts,” McGloin said. “I can’t make the critical error that I made last week. So I’m just working on that, watching a lot more film [and] trying to prepare as best as I can.”
2. Protecting Geno
Part of the struggles for rookie quarterback Geno Smith this year can be attributed to the limited time he’s had to throw in the pocket. Smith has been sacked 38 times this year, third-most in the league, and his high number of quarterback pressures have in part contributed to his recent poor performances. If the Jets can protect Smith, maybe they can move the ball on offense.
“I see a guy who has talent and ability. You see when he’s had time to sit back and throw the football, specifically some of the earlier games, he’s been able to throw the ball extremely,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “I see a guy who’s really talented, but I see a guy who’s a young football player and he’s made some young mistakes, but obviously I see a guy who has a lot of talent and has a lot of ability.”
3. Return to health
Finally, some weapons return for Smith and the offense. Jeremy Kerley, out with a dislocated elbow, will likely play for the first time in a month. Head coach Rex Ryan said of Kerley, who leads the team with 28 catches despite missing the past four games, that he’s “been an outstanding slot receiver for us.” In addition, Ryan sounded optimistic fellow wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who played just three snaps last Sunday in the loss at the Dolphins, will be more active this week. Holmes leads the team with a little over 25 yards per reception.
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.