clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Five Good Questions with Jets writer: Where will Raiders biggest challenge come from?

New, comments

To get you ready for the Raiders upcoming home opener, I spoke to SB Nation Jets blog Gang Green Nation to get the scoop.

NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

1. Have you gotten the feeling the Jets have their sights set on the number one overall pick heading into the season? What has the fan reaction been?

Releasing most of the team's accomplished veterans (even if some were clearly over the hill), including Brandon Marshall, Nick Mangold, Marcus Gilchrist, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, and Eric Decker would have you believe that yes, this tank is driving straight towards that #1 pick. And it is. However, in terms of roster building, they haven't exactly fully committed to it, and that's what has irked some fans. Most of the fanbase is all on board for getting that shot at an elusive franchise quarterback. What is head scratching is the presence of veterans on the roster like Matt Forte, Josh McCown, Demario Davis, and Steve McLendon who are all awful (besides McLendon) and are blocking the path for the younger players on the roster.

2. Are there any areas on this Jets team that are particularly strong?

The only position you could really make an argument the team is strong is the defensive line, but even that's highly questionable right now. Leonard Williams is an overwhelming force against the run and pass rush. Muhammad Wilkerson was the same level player consistently but had a down 2016 and kept it up in Week 1. The Jets also have plenty of capable run-stuffers up the middle, including Steve McLendon and Mike Pennel. The young safety pair of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye could prove to be "strong" by the end of the year, but there were rookie mistakes in the Buffalo game despite their consistent moments of promise.

Offensively, it's impossible to name any position group remotely close to average right now.

3. Who are the young, potential long term building blocks on the Jets right now?

The two main pieces right now are both on the defense, Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams. Williams has quickly grown into an elite defensive tackle, arguably top 5 at his position and still ascending. Adams, the sixth pick in this year's draft, has showcased exactly why he was taken that high since day one and was arguably the team's best player in Week 1.

Those two guys are the most certain stars long-term. Outside of them, the team is hoping some more building blocks emerge. 2016 first rounder Darron Lee had an awful 2016 and equally bad start to 2017, and is quickly erasing hope of fulfilling his first round potential (bust alert). Juston Burris is a young corner who has played solid in a limited role and could possibly break out. Jordan Jenkins, a third round pick a year ago, has held down a starting outside linebacker spot since Week 1 last year and if not a Von Miller type pass rusher is a solid, tough long-term starter.

Offensively, the Jets lack blue-chip talent but there are some young players with promise. Right tackle Brandon Shell has been very clean in pass protection after coming in late last season, his rookie year. WR Robby Anderson, undrafted last year, doesn't have the flashiest numbers but has elite speed and is consistently open downfield.

4. With the Jettisoning of some fairly good/well known players, who's left on the team that is a real threat?

(Clever pun, by the way) There are few real threats on this team, but Williams and Adams are two difference-makers on defense. Williams has been a size-speed mismatch since his rookie year and attracts a lot of attention. Adams can line up at any defensive position outside the defensive line and has special instincts and speed at all of them.

Offensively, as mentioned before Robby Anderson has a ton of speed and gets himself open consistently, but that's really the only "threatening" trait I can think of on this offense. #2 running back Bilal Powell is a versatile run-pass threat who many believe is the team's best weapon, but the team mysteriously features the ancient Matt Forte over him, who clearly is running low on gas.

5. What area of this Jets team has the potential to surprise the Raiders and give the Jets their best chance to pull out a win?

If there's any area that could really surprise everyone to play a key role in pulling off this upset, it could be the pass rush. Two of the Jets best players against the Bills were Kony Ealy, picked up on waivers days before the season, and Josh Martin, a former special teams ace who transitioned to starting outside linebacker. These two did a really good job bringing pressure and setting the edge, and if the Jets are going to have any chance at winning this game, they need to make things hard for Derek Carr and bring the score of this game down. They simply don't have the firepower to win a shootout on the opposite coast against a team this good. A strong pass rush would go a long way towards evening the playing field.

To see my answers to his questions, click here.