Raiders running back Rashad Jennings was still not certain to play vs. the Jets because of a concussion. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Raiders won just four games last season and are sitting on four victories this season. Fortunately for them, the Jets are on their schedule this Sunday.
If ever a team were ripe for the Raiders to pluck for win No. 5, it’s the Jets.
New York’s AFC team has one of the worst offenses in the NFL. According to Yahoo Sports, the Jets average just 4.82 yards per play (29th in the league) and go three-and-out on nearly a third of their possessions (32.3 percent), which ranks dead last in the NFL. And, the Jets are guided by rookie quarterback Geno Smith who leads all quarterbacks with 19 interceptions. Over the past four games, in fact, Smith has completed just 39.2 percent of his passes, and has no more than nine completions in each. Over the Jets’ current three-game losing streak, Smith has thrown six interceptions.
So, the Raiders defense has a chance to dominate on Sunday, force the Jets into mistakes and come up with some takeaways.
“Obviously, he’s going through some rough times,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan told the New York media this week. “These last three games haven’t been good for him. Quite honestly, it hasn’t been good for a lot of us.”
Yet the Jets (5-7) are 2½-point favorites over the Raiders (4-8) heading into Sunday’s 10 a.m. (PST) kickoff.
One of the reasons is the Jets’ defense, which is No. 1 in the NFL against the run. The Jets allow just 2.9 yards per carry and only 77.0 yards per game. With the Raiders’ Darren McFadden out and Rashad Jennings still not officially cleared because of a concussion, that could mean that the Raiders’ opportunities to run the ball Sunday will be limited. Fullback Marcel Reece could take over the No. 1 running back duties – something he did very well in 2012 – with relief from Taiwan Jones, who took reps at running back this week. Jones, who switched to cornerback this season after two seasons as a running back in Oakland, could provide a nice change-of-pace.
But if the Raiders can’t run the ball, the offense will have to rely on rookie quarterback Matt McGloin. McGloin has been up-and-down in his three starts. Against Dallas in a loss on Thanksgiving, his excellent first half was offset by a poor second half in a 31-24 loss.
In his three games as a starter, McGloin has kept the Raiders in every game, losing by four points to the Titans and seven to the Cowboys and beating the Texans 28-23. In those three games, he’s 55-of-94 (56 percent) for four TDs and two interceptions. But, his quarterback rating has been sliding. In his debut as starter, it was 105.9, then dropped to 82.8 vs. Tennessee and 73.6 vs. Dallas.
This week, McGloin said he has to learn quickly from each mistake. There’s no time to sit back and ponder. He has to shake off the errors in Dallas and come up big vs. the Jets.
“You have to, especially at the quarterback position,” McGloin told reporters Thursday. “You have to learn from your mistakes and move on because everyone’s expecting you not to make the same mistake twice. If you do, you’re not going to be in a starting position for long.”