On Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to Oakland to play the Raiders in an afternoon game where both teams are looking for their first win of the season.
Oakland may have found their quarterback of the present and future in Terrelle Pryor who had some ups and downs in his 2nd career start last weekend, a surprisingly close 21-17 loss to the hometown Indianapolis Colts. The Raiders traveled deep into the Red Zone (to Indy’s 8 yard line) and lost only when Pryor took a bad sack and threw an interception with 31 seconds left to play, sealing their fate.
However, the bright spots were there for Pryor, he completed 19 of 29 passes for 217 yards, including a touchdown, but he had 2 passes picked off. Pryor became just the 8th QB since 1970 to pass for 200 yards and run for 100 yards (13 carries for 112 yards, tying Rich Gannon’s club record for rushing yards by a QB) and had the Colts defense chasing him all game long.
Pryor should have another good week with the Jags coming to the “Black Hole.” Jacksonville is coming off an embarrassing 28-2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday. Blaine Gabbert beat out veteran QB Chad Henne in the preseason, but he was hurt in the 2nd half of the KC game and will not play against the Raiders.
Head coach Dennis Allen expects the home crowd to play a part in the game, the game is sold out. “We’re excited about opening up at home and having Raider Nation out there, and we’re excited about getting out there in front of the home crowd,” Allen said to Raiders.com. “We’re going to need the home crowd to help us out; we’re going to need that support. We have to go out and play well, and if we play well, I feel like we’ll have the good crowd support we need.”
Allen isn’t the only one looking forward to playing at home either. “I’ll feed off it, and it’s going to give me another reason to get excited and it’s going to get me ready for the game,” Pryor told Raiders.com.
With Gabbert out, Henne will take over as the signal caller for Jacksonville. He completed 3 of 6 passes for 36 yards, which was better than what Gabbert did while he was in the game (16 of 35 for 121 yards, no TD’s and 2 INT’s). Henne is familiar with the offense after starting the final 6 games last year so he should be an improvement over Gabbert and this is his 6th NFL season. Henne starting may give them a better chance to win.
Henne will be focusing on feeding the ball to the Jags’ workhorse RB, Maurice Jones-Drew. He had just 15 carries for 45 yards, but Jacksonville trailed, 21-2 at halftime and was forced to throw the ball more than they would have liked to. Their focus should be on a more balanced offensive attack against Oakland so not getting down early will be crucial.
The Raiders defense looked good against the Colts. Andrew Luck completed 18 of 23 passes for 178 yards, including 2 TD’s, but he was sacked 4 times for a loss of 31 yards. Limiting a QB like Luck to 147 passing yards is an impressive feat for any defense to do. Defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Jason Hunter each had a sack, safety Tyvon Branch and cornerback Tracey Porter also had one each.
However, the run defense can’t say the same. Indianapolis has a running back by committee approach and they ran for 127 yards on 26 carries, led by Vick Ballard’s 63 yards. Luck ran 6 times for 38 yards doing his John Elway impersonation. Oakland’s run defense will need to step up against MJD because he’s a lot better RB than Ballard or Ahmad Bradshaw (7 carries for 26 yards).
Henne will be handing off early and often to set up some play action passes to his WR’s in Cecil Shorts (3 catches in 9 targets for 40 yards against the Chiefs) and Ace Sanders (3 catches for 14 yards). The lack of WR options bodes well for the Raiders, but they’ll have to really focus on containing MJD so he doesn’t go off for a 15-200 yard game. Henne will surely be looking to get the ball in his playmaker’s hands so he can try and make something happen.
New Middle Linebacker Nick Roach had a team high 9 tackles and will be needed to help stuff the run. As will the defensive tackles Vance Walker and Pat Sims. Stopping the running game will be key to earning their first win of the season.
-2nd year wide receiver Justin Blackmon missed last weeks game because of the 4 game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but he will join the team and attend meetings. Blackmon caught 64 passes for 865 yards (13.5 yards per catch) and 5 TD’s last season. Sanders will start in his absence.
-Tight end Mercedes Lewis is slowly recovering from a calf injury and is doubtful for the Raiders game.
-Head coach Gus Bradley is keeping the team in Northern California since they play Seattle on September 22nd.
-TE David Ausberry (shoulder) and LT Menelik Watson (knee) are out for the game. Backup LB Kaluka Maiava Branch (groin) is questionable since he was limited in practice and SS Branch (shoulder) is listed as probable. Janikowski (calf) is also listed as probable.
-The Raiders won last years matchup, 26-23 in overtime when Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 40 yard field goal. Oakland rallied from a 14 point deficit on the strength of Carson Palmer’s 298 yard passing performance, breaking a 4 game losing streak to Jacksonville.
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