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Breaking Down the Opponent: Keys to Victory Week 12

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NFL: New York Jets at Washington Redskins Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

After enjoying three games at home the Raiders hit the road again looking to extend their winning streak in a matchup with the New York Jets. The Jets seem to have hit their stride recently having won back-to-back games as well. Each phase of the game poses a challenge for the Raiders and it should be a hard fought battle.

Jets offense is pass first (and second and third)

You might expect me to bring up All-Pro RB Le’Veon Bell, but if you take a look at the film, Bell isn’t the reason the Jets have been winning. Their passing attack has been humming and Sam Darnold has found a new favorite target: WR Jamison Crowder.

Crowder has quietly turned into the Jets primary weapon on offense primarily because of his route running ability. Darnold and Crowder have hooked up for 18 catches, 240 yards, and 3 TDs in the past three weeks alone. Crowder works the middle of the field very well, and whoever starts in the slot (Nevin Lawson, Lamarcus Joyner, Daryl Worley) will have their hands full guarding No. 82. Believe it or not, the Jets called this exact same play twice in the past three weeks and Crowder scored running the wheel route against man coverage. The Raiders love man coverage.

Darnold is getting his feet under him after missing several weeks with an illness. He’s a young passer with underrated athleticism and can extend plays with his legs as well as with his arm. The Jets pass catchers are clearly well coached on this play above. The offense runs one play, but Darnold scrambles. When his receivers in see him on the move, they run to their assigned scramble areas and turn one play into another for a score. If the Raiders don’t keep Darnold in the pocket expect a big play or two.

Darnold has to extend the play at times because his offensive line isn’t very good. The left guard and right tackle in particular have really struggled in recent weeks. Each has given up multiple sacks over the previous three week stretch. Their right tackle was completely victimized by Ryan Kerrigan last week and Benson Mayowa will have a favorable matchup with fresh legs to rush the passer.

Defense is all about Adams

This guy Jamal Adams can be a terror. He has the potential to wreck any game he plays in regardless of who lines up across from him. The number of techniques he can execute from down to down is astonishing. During this game you will see him line up at edge rusher, linebacker, slot corner, box safety, and deep safety.

On this play he is in the box along with eight other Jet defenders going up against this two tight end set. The Raiders will see loaded boxes when they trot out with Darren Waller and Foster Moreau and will need to figure out ways to run the ball with the Jets selling out to stop it. Carr also needs to identify when the Jets get into these looks and see if he can check into a pass play.

Checking into a pass play is easier said than done against this Jets defense. Adams is lined up in the box and has the TE in man coverage. This is an example of why Adams is widely considered an elite defender in the NFL. He sees his man pass protect and converts his coverage to a blitz. When he arrives at the blocker, he loads up and knocks the RB backwards before taking the ball away from the QB and running it into the endzone himself.

This is one of those situations where keeping in extra blockers actually hurt the offense. The Raiders will need to be wary of keeping their tight ends in max protection because often that means Adams will just come. The DB has already racked up 6 sacks on the season.

Adams is not infallible however. Most likely the reason he has been asked to blitz so much is because he isn’t the greatest player in coverage. Adams gets turned around like a top against rookie WR Terry McLaurin and rookie QB Dwayne Haskins. The poor technique is likely not all Adams fault. All of the Jets DBs have given up more than their fair share of big plays this season. The Raiders have a chance to push the ball down field and take advantage of mismatches.

Keys to Victory

Offense

  • Win the audible chess match at the line of scrimmage
  • Keep Jamal Adams away from the QB
  • Take advantage of a poor secondary through the air

Defense

  • Bend but don’t break in coverage
  • Keep Sam Darnold in the pocket
  • Control the line of scrimmage against a banged up offensive line