The Oakland Raiders started the 2017 season with a road win over the Tennessee Titans in Week One. They’ll hope to pair that with a home victory against the New York Jets but they’ll face a defense coached by Todd Bowles.
The former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator is known for his aggressive defensive play calling and down field passing game. In the past Bowles was considered the de-facto defensive coordinator in New York. Last season, Rodgers began to take the reins down the stretch. Here’s what the Raiders can expect from Bowles and his defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers.
Kacy Rodgers is in his third year of tenure with the Jets and 15th overall. In his first two years, the Jets held opposing runners to 91.1 yards per game and 3.64 yards per carry, which is among the league leaders for that time. In 2015, the defense finished third in takeaways with 30 for that season. Rodgers coached the Miami Dolphins defensive line from 2007-14. His group ranked in the top-10 in opponents’ rushing average and rushing touchdowns allowed.
Bowles and Rodgers spent some time coaching together on the Dolphins defense. Between that experience and Bowles’ tenure in Arizona, this Jets defense has accumulated a scheme that utilizes different fronts and coverages.
The strength of the defense reflects the strengths of Bowles and Rodgers. Between Leonard Williams, Steve McClendon and Muhammad Wilkerson the Jets have three guys who can consistently stuff the run which is what Rodgers’ defensive lines are known for. New York also has the potential of former second round pick Kony Ealy off the bench. Williams and Wilkerson can both slide inside to push the pocket on passing downs which gives the Jets defense the versatility that sets them apart.
On the back end, the Jets strength is at safety. They invested their first two 2017 draft picks in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Both players are experienced, athletic and physical. Bowles made a name for himself by utilizing versatile safeties and multiple safety looks in Arizona. Now, it appears he has the two guys for a similar frame work in New York.
Last week, this defense created 1.5 sacks and an interception. Oakland can expect the same aggressive playing style in Week Two. Oakland had some lapses in picking up outside stunts versus the hybrid front of the Titans. Expect the Jets to revisit those as they also employ an odd front that utilizes confusions via blitzing, twists and stunts.
Last week, the Jets gave up 110 rushing yards to LeSean McCoy. That isn’t a big deal considering McCoy is one of the best in the game, but they allowed another 80 rushing yards between Tyrod Taylor and Mike Tolbert.
After the Raiders wore down the Tennessee Titans in Week One, expect the offense to test the Jets rush defense. The x-factor will be the Jets linebackers. Darron Lee has elite talent but he didn’t show it last week. Lee, Demarrio Davis and Josh Martin all finished with a Pro Football Focus grade less than 40 overall.
Expect the Jets to use their safeties in run support to help out their linebackers. Added, the defensive line is very adept at penetration.
Otherwise, New York has Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne are the top corners. Both veterans are experienced but neither are elite. Juston Burris factors in as a starting corner back too. Oakland should win that matchup one-on-one.
Ultimately, the Raiders offensive game plan is not going to change much week to week. No matter what scheme or play caller they face, expect Oakland to use their high powered passing game to get a lead. The Raiders have enough explosive targets to find mismatches versus the Jets as long as their offensive line does their job in pass pro.
Then, they will seal it with their plethora of running backs including Marshawn Lynch. The biggest key against the Jets will be not turning the ball over. Oakland is heavily favored at home but a simple turnover might give New York much needed confidence and momentum to upset the Raiders or at least keep the game close.