Dec 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) in the second half against the Oakland Raiders during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Defense And Special Teams Let Down The Oakland Raiders Against The Jets

The Oakland Raiders missed a great chance to get their fifth win of the season and surpass last season’s total of four. The Raiders’ defense played a major role in the outcome of this game, as they let a bad New York Jets’ offense just have its way. The offense got off to a slow start, as Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor rotated for a couple of series. They exploded in the second half, but the defense could not stop the Jets’ offense to let the Raiders complete their comeback.

Here are the three factors in the Raiders’ loss to the Jets:

1. Defense lets the Jets jump out a big early lead:
The defense too a major step back yesterday, as they let a mediocre Jets’ offense move up and down the field with ease to the tune of 37 points. The Jets’ offense has been absolutely miserable the last several weeks and against the Raiders they explode for their highest point output of the season. Geno Smith has been ineffective for a long stretch of game, as he had not thrown a touchdown pass since week seven against the Patriots.

The defense had a number of missed tackle and blown assignments, which created the big plays for the Jets. The problem has been created by the lack of depth on the Raiders’ defense. The veteran defense is starting to break down getting late into the season. The coaches have to lean on their starters due to injuries and lack of talent in their defensive depth.

The defense killed any chance of the Raiders having a chance yesterday. They were unable to keep the game close as the Raiders offensive struggled in the first half. They allowed the Jets to jump out to a quick two score lead, which was made even bigger by a blocked punt for a touchdown.

In the second half, the defense failed to get a key stop, as the offense attempted to make a comeback. They allowed the Jets offense to answer back with every Raiders’ score. Their one stop came on the Jets’ final drive, as they attempted to run out the clock to end the game. The defense let down their offense. The offense put together four straight scoring drives, but the defense let the Jets answer with three straight of their own.

Charles Woodson‘s quote to reporters following the game told the whole story:

“We looked like the Bad News Bears out there. In saying that, I want to give a lot of credit to our offense. They never stopped fighting, and they really gave us a chance to stay in the game. Then, defensively, we went out there and basically peed down our leg. It’s just embarrassing.”

Woodson know that the defense missed a great chance to step up and do their part. He will let the defense know what they have to due in the future, but effort and desire can only do so much. This team needs to get deeper defensively.

2. Special teams breakdowns prove to be vital:
Special teams use to be an area of strength for the Raiders. Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler were perennial Pro Bowlers and were considered to be in the top in their positions. This year has been vastly different. Janikowski has regressed to a point where he is seen as a potential liability. Lechler is now in Houston and the Raiders handed the job to rookie punter Marquette King.

The Raiders had a great opportunity to tie the game following an interception by Kevin Burnett that set them up in Jets’ territory. The offense would only gain a few yards before sending out Janikowski for a 52-yard field goal try. Janikoski pulled his kick wide right and the Jets maintained the early advantage.

The troubling sign is the bad kick coming from the right hash, as he has struggled this season kicking from the left hash. While 52 yards is not an automatic make, Janikowski has made a living out of making those long distance kicks look easy. If he makes that field goal, the entire dynamic of the game changes with the Raiders’ late comeback needing only one score instead of two.

The Raiders’ punting situation has regressed, as well. King has potential to become a great punter, but he struggles with the key aspect of punting. He possesses a strong leg, but he is not overly accurate, does not get great hang time and takes too long to get the punt away.

King leads the league in punt average, but his net average is more towards the middle of the pack. He also leads the league in touchbacks and is near the bottom in fair catches. He is giving opposing teams too many extra yards on their following possessions. He is also tied for the league lead in blocked punts with two. Lechler had four blocked punts in 13 years with the Raiders.

The Raiders can no longer count on their special teams as the key unit to cover up their deficiencies in their other units. The offense is going to have to put up touchdowns, instead of settling for field goals. The defense will be in charge of winning the field position battles.

3. Offense gets hot late:
Coming out of the break, the Raiders offense caught fire. Big plays provided a spark to a sputtering offense and is what has been missing from the Raiders’ offense recently.

On the opening drive of the second half, the Raiders would need two plays to go 79 yards. McGloin would find Rod Streater down the field for a big 16-yard strike. Then the stand-in running back Marcel Reece would gash the heart of the Jets’ defense for a 63-yard touchdown to pull the Raiders to within 10 points.

On their following drive, they would need a few more plays. McGloin and Reece would be the two making the plays on drive, but it would be McGloin making the big play of the drive. McGloin would thread the needle between several defenders to find Streater on a post route that he would take 48 yards to again pull the Raiders back to within two scores.

The Raiders would then add a third straight scoring drive with a field goal after the offense stalled out just outside the Jets’ red zone. Scoring a third straight touchdown would have made it a one score game, but the field goal kept them within 10 points.

Their most impressive drive would be their fourth straight scoring drive. The team would travel 78 yards on 16 plays in six minutes and 34 seconds. The Raiders would rely on the arm of McGloin to drive them down the field on a key possession. McGloin would respond by going 6-for-10 for 62 yards. McGloin would cap off the drive with a one-yard TD pass to Mychal Rivera to again answer the Jets to pull the Raiders to within 10. It would be too little, too late, as the raiders would fail to recover the onside kick and would not have a chance to get any closer.

It was encouraging for the Raiders’ offense to play like they did in the second half. They put together four straight scoring drives, which is one of the best stretches of the season for the Raiders’ offense. Once the Raiders chose to stick with McGloin at quarterback, after switching between him and Terrelle Pryor, the Raiders’ offense began to click and gain a rhythm. McGloin may not be the long term answer for the Raiders, but he is giving them the best shot at success this season. The Raiders offense could have had a chance to win the game, if the defense could have gotten a few more stops.

Tags: Matt McGloin New York Jets NFL Oakland Raiders

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