He is on track to set the single-season records for sacks by a defensive back. But he can also be found 20-25 yards off the ball in Gregg Williams’ infamous One (super) hHigh defense, and he has good range going sideline-to-sideline in coverage.
Derek Carr needs to know where the LSU product is on every snap.
Similarly, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is a beast on the interior. While the rookie hasn’t rushed the passer like some expected when he was drafted No. 3 overall in the 2019 draft, he’s a big reason the Jets allow the least rushing yards of any team, surrendering only 79.1 yards per game.
Both head coaches in this game praised the rookie during the week for the way he is doing his job as a two-gap run stuffer. Running the ball against Williams and the Jets’ 3-4 base defense will be tough-sledding for Josh Jacobs and the Raiders’ offensive line.
On the other side of the ball, Le’Veon Bell remains one of the most dangerous threats out of the backfield in the receiving game. Early in the season, he was an absolute workhorse for New York, though they have reduced his snaps in the last two wins to keep him fresh.
While the Jets’ O-line is atrocious, Bell had debatably his best game of the season last week against Washington, gaining 59 yards on the ground with a touchdown and adding two catches for 33 yards.
He remains the Jets’ biggest offensive threat, so all 11 pairs of eyes on the Raiders’ defense need to have an awareness of Bell on each play.
Whether it’s Carr knowing where Adams is, the guard and tackle working together to defeat Williams and getting Jacobs to the second level, or all 11 Raiders defenders swarming Bell, there are some matchups to be concerned about. But there are also three that very much favor the Raiders. Let’s focus on those in a bit more detail.
DE Clelin Ferrell vs. RT Chuma Edoga
Undoubtedly, the Jets are going to be looking for ways to slow down fellow rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby after his breakout four sack performance last week against the Bengals.
Crosby will likely go against left tackle Kelvin Beachum on most snaps. According to ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate, Beachum has actually been quite good this year.
It’s the rest of the line which has been a mess. Edoga figures to be in for a long day if Ferrell plays the way he has in the last few weeks. Ferrell can make life miserable for Le’Veon Bell and the other Jets runners if they choose to run toward him.
And though Ferrell has always projected as a bigger end a la the Saints’ Cam Jordan, the rookie has shown signs in recent weeks of that eventual promise.
Sunday’s game could showcase another breakout performance for the No. 4 overall pick.
Dion Jordan vs. Jets interior offensive line
The Raiders used Jordan in a different manner than the way he was used for most of his early NFL career in his first game with the team. Jon Gruden and Paul Guenther seem to view the veteran as an interior pass-rusher.
The philosophy behind it, though, is an intriguing one: get a quick-twitch guy to work against the big, lumbering bodies that inhabit the interior of most offensive lines.
Granted, this is only something you’d see in Nickel situations, but it presents a real opportunity for creating a ton of pressure on Sam Darnold and making the Jets’ already weak passing game downright limp.
If Ferrell and Jordan can win their matchups routinely, the second-year quarterback could be seeing the ground up close quite a bit on Sunday. And he might start seeing silver and black ghosts, too.
Raiders receivers vs. CB Nate Hairston
If you know anything about Nate Hairston, congratulations! You got one on me. Darryl Roberts isn’t much better either. And Arthur Maulet comes in for some sub packages. These are not quality starting corners.
And if we know anything about Gregg Williams, it’s that he doesn’t change. He’s going to play a ton of Cover 1. He’s been doing it his entire career.
No one’s going to sit here and tell you the Raiders receivers are top notch. But there’s a couple college receiving corps I’d feel comfortable taking my chances with against these corners. And that’s not hyperbole.
As a result, tight end Darren Waller may be used as more of a decoy this week unless Gruden and OC Greg Olson can scheme up ways to get Waller matched up against one of the aforementioned corners.
If they are able to do that, this could be a fantasy-rich performance for Carr. If not, the highly efficient effort he put forth last week is very much in reach. Tyrell Williams is certainly capable of having a big game as a result of this matchup.
I have a friend who says, “At the end of the day, it’s just 11-on-11.” He’s right.
The Raiders have the pieces to neutralize the Jets’ biggest threats. And they definitely have the pieces to take advantage of some of their biggest weaknesses.