Sports Out West

Oakland Raiders vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: 5 Keys for the Silver and Black

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders

The game of the year is this Sunday when the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to face the Oakland Raiders. What must the home team do?

Shut down the run

The Raiders allowed the Indianapolis Colts to gain 4.9 yards-per-rush in Week 1. Now the team has to contain Maurice Jones-Drew, who can round the edge and grind between the tackles equally well. Partly due to their nightmare at quarterback, Jacksonville will lean hard on Jones-Drew, so Oakland can’t let him gain rhythm. The Raiders also need to stay on their toes for when the Jaguars inevitably attempt a reverse with the speedy Cecil Shorts III or Ace Sanders.

Pressure the #2 (or #7)

Failed Miami Dolphins starter Chad Henne will get the nod behind center with Blaine Gabbert hurt, and Raiders defenders should be drooling.  Henne was erratic when forced into action playing the Raiders last season (a game he lost in overtime 26-23). Oakland generated four sacks in Indianapolis blitzing various positions early and often, so this formula should be effective on the heavy-footed passer.

Attack the cornerbacks

Jacksonville is dangerously exposed outside, as the squad opted to go with rookie third-rounder Dwayne Gratz and career-backup Alan Ball as their Week 1 starters. They are overmatched by Denarius Moore and Rod Streater so this is Terrelle Pryor’s chance to build confidence in his arm.

Guide Terrelle Pryor

This goes for offensive coordinator Greg Olsen, who did a masterful job last week with his playcalling keeping Pryor in a position to succeed. Olsen must reuse his designed quarterback runs and “pistol” option plays to keep the Jaguars off-balance, but a few more throws this week are likely considering Jacksonville’s lack of pass rush and paper-thin cornerback depth.

Limit special teams mistakes

A missed 48-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski before halftime could have been the difference for the Raiders against the Colts, which goes to show why perfection is expected in these situations. Oakland’s punt coverage was also sloppy in their only opportunity, so special teams coach Bobby April should stress improving lane discipline in practice.

Photo Credit: Cary Edmondson /US Presswire

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Rui Thomas

Rui Thomas is an NFL and NBA aficionado whose credits include Yahoo! Sports, FanNation, GoldenGateSports and Radiosurvivor.com. He also owns the Theruination.net. Rui grew up an obsessive fan of the Sacramento Kings and Oakland Raiders, but he sympathizes with every West Coast team.