The New York Jets’ offense was downright offensive in last week’s 21-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills, at New Era Field.
And judging by the way this week’s opponent, the Oakland Raiders (1-0), looked in their season-opening win over the Tennessee Titans, the Jets need to find a way to open up the offense and match them point for point.
It may seem like a daunting — almost impossible — task, judging by the offensive talent on each roster. But the Jets (0-1) will need to be creative and not turn quarterback Josh McCown into the check-down king. There will be chances to put a still suspect Raiders’ secondary in compromising positions, the Jets just need to be smart and pick their spots.
New York only scored 12 points in Buffalo and that certainly won’t be enough in Oakland. The Raiders’ offense is as dynamic and versatile as any in the league. Led by quarterback Derek Carr, wideouts Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, running back Marshawn Lynch, and that nasty and massive offensive line, the Raiders can put up points in a hurry. McCown will have to match that production, but he’s heading into battle with a depleted arsenal. The journeyman signal caller is no prize either, but he’s shown throughout his career that when provided with good talent around him, he can move the chains and put up points.
Unfortunately, general manager Mike Maccagnan has left the offensive cupboard bereft of talent. Gone are guys like accomplished veteran wideouts Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, and in their places are neophytes like Robby Anderson and rookie ArDarius Stewart.
New York recently added veteran Jermaine Kearse in the Sheldon Richardson trade. But the former Seattle Seahawk couldn’t even crack the lineup on a roster that needs more playmakers on the perimeter.
Plus, Kearse, who was picked up the Tuesday before the opener, is still learning the offense. He had seven catches for only 59 yards against the Bills. And tight end Will Tye, a former New York Giant who showed flashes of pass-catching ability with Big Blue, was claimed off waivers right after the final preseason game, so he’s yet to really build continuity with McCown. He notched only three catches for 34 yards.
The veteran quarterback knows he needs to get on the same page quickly with his young wideouts and new veteran additions if the Jets plan on pulling off the massive upset.
“Each week, we’re going to continue building. Each week, the three days of practice are great for us because it’s three days that we haven’t had with some of these guys. So, I’m excited about where we can be three days from now,” said McCown, adding he believes they’re getting their timing down quickly. “Each practice is so valuable for us. If you’re a veteran team or if you’re established, it’s different. But with this group every practice is valuable, every rep is valuable.”
Head coach Todd Bowles is confident the offense is gelling and heading in the right direction. He also noted that he expects a more aggressive game plan against Oakland, as he reasoned 12 points won’t be enough.
“We’re definitely going to try [to be more aggressive],” Bowles said.
Too many times McCown was forced to throw dump-off passes to his running backs, or quick hitters to his receivers in the flat, with very little success. The Raiders aren’t an overpowering defense, despite having reigning Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, so there might be some opportunities for McCown and co. to get some points on the board.
The hope by the Jets is that they have a solid enough defense to slow down Oakland. But after an uneven performance against a one-dimensional Bills’ offense, Gang Green can’t necessarily count on an absolute improvement — especially when the Raiders have far more weapons than the Bills. McCown has played long enough to know he’ll need to try and match Oakland’s offense because Carr has the arsenal to get the ball into the end zone often.
“We understand that they have a good quarterback over there and they’re going to score points. That’s what they do. I know our defense is going to do everything they can to hold them and shut them down,” said McCown. “But you also understand that it [scoring a lot] may need to be the case. That’s part of being a balanced team … if we need to rely on taking more chances and pushing the ball we can do that. So we look forward to that part of it.”
He added offensive coordinator John Morton will need to “strike that balance, where you’re smart with the football but you’re aggressive.”
“I think there will be more opportunities for us to be aggressive, as far as how the plays unfold. And as quarterbacks, you’ve just got to earn the trust by managing that appropriately,” McCown said.
The Jets’ offense advanced the ball past the Bills’ 30-yard line only once. That definitely won’t cut it against a Raiders offense looking to exploit a Gang Green defense that had some trouble even slowing down a one-man offense, last week.