DE Trevor Scott reaches for the Jets ball carrier when the Raiders played the Jets in 2008. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders return home to O.co Coliseum to play host to the New York Jets in the first home game of the regular season. Coming into the game with a 1-1 record, the Raiders look to hand the Jets their first loss of the 2011 season. "They're good, they're tough, they're mean and they're coming to the O [O.co Coliseum] to play the Raiders," said Head Coach Hue Jackson. "Looking forward to it. Let's get it on."
The Raiders have been away from the Coliseum for over three weeks and are looking forward to playing in front of Raider Nation again. "It's been awhile," said WR Derek Hagan. "Now we're at home, we're looking forward to it; we know our fans are looking forward to it. It's our first home game. Should be rowdy in there and hopefully we play a good four quarters and come out with a victory."
LB Kamerion Wimbley, in his second year with the Raiders, remembers the feeling of playing in front of the Raider Nation and is excited to return. "I'm [excited for] the energy and the excitement the Raider fans bring," said Wimbley. "The Black Hole is definitely always rocking so we're just looking forward to it. Everybody gets into it, we want everyone to come out and support us because we need them. The Jets are a good team. We think we'll be able to go out and put out a good challenge for them and hopefully win the game."
DE Lamarr Houston is also fired up to play in front of the home crowd. "It's going to be exciting," said Houston. "The Black Hole is going to be loud, it's the home opener, doesn't get any better than the Raider Nation."
Putting on a show the past two games, RB Darren McFadden is ready to show Raider Nation what he, and his teammates, can put together on the field. "It's always great playing here in front of the Raider Nation so I'm looking forward to it," said McFadden. "I'll be glad to see them out there and see how energized they're going to be."
The Raiders are excited to see O.co packed with fans in Silver and Black, but they are focused on the challenge the Jets present. "It's a great test," said Houston. "They're always in the AFC Championship. They're at where we want to be. We're working to get there. It's a great test early in the season; it's a great chance to get on a run."
The Jets have played in the AFC Championship game the past two years and have continued their winning ways so far in 2011. "They're a strong team," said Wimbley. "They've been to the playoffs the last couple of years, we know we have a challenge when we play them and we're looking forward to getting this bad taste out of our mouths from the last game. All the guys are excited. We're out here working hard and we know the Coliseum will be packed with Raider fans so it's going to be exciting. There's no place I'd rather be than in there at the Coliseum playing the Jets on Sunday."
The Raiders defense will match up with Jets QB Mark Sanchez, WRs Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, RBs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson, and TE Dustin Keller. "Everybody just has to know their assignments and play their assignments and do their job," said safety Jerome Boyd.
Those jobs include stopping a formidable Jets rushing game. "This is a team that runs the ball extremely well since Rex [Ryan] has been there," said defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan. ""They have been the leading rush team since he took over as head coach, but Brian [Schottenheimer] does a great job of mixing in their play-action passes to match their run game. It's going to be a challenge for us but the initial goal every week, or objective, for us is to stop the run, and force this to be a one-dimensional team, and we'll do that."
DT Tommy Kelly has listened closely to Coach Bresnahan and is intent on turning the Jets into a one-dimensional offense. "You can't really worry about stopping everybody, you have to stop what they like to do which is the run," said Kelly. "So we slow down the run, then we can pretty much know what they're going to do. Try to make it one-dimensional so they can try to throw it here and there."
"I believe our coaches are putting in a good game plan for us to be able to be effective and put us in the best position to come up with the win," said Wimbley. "As long as we do what they told us to do, I think we'll be good."
The entire defense knows they'll be challenged this week with the Jets, but they view the intense competition as a good thing. "Playing this position you look forward to good competition because when you get to the playoffs and down the stretch these are teams that you're going to have to face," said CB Joe Porter. "And to have them early in the season and see where we match up, it'll be a good test."
On the other side of the ball, the Jets have two of the most highly-touted cornerbacks in the NFL with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Revis is impressive because of his "ability to play the ball," said QB Jason Campbell. "He plays the ball very well in the air, he's a smart corner. Just like a lot of great corners you always see a guy stick his nose in the run game. That's something he does; he doesn't shy away from it. He's a tremendous talent and like I said, those guys don't come around very often, but he's one of them."
On the other side of the field is Cromartie who Campbell says is also extremely athletic. "He's one of those guys that when he sees the ball in the air, he tries to go attack it," said Campbell. "He's pretty much like a receiver on defense and we understand he has great hands, he returns kickoffs, so he's an athletic corner that probably somewhere in his career played both sides of the ball, college or high school."
The two cornerbacks have the ability to create opportunities for the Jets defensive front. "Oh, they are good," said Coach Jackson. "Revis and Cromartie make their front seven very good because they are good cover guys, which gives those guys a chance to get home. When you can cover and create pressure, obviously, it is tough. It is a tremendous challenge for our offensive football team, but if we are the kind of offense I think we are and what we're becoming, we'll look forward to it. It is going to be a tremendous battle, they are good, and we think we have a chance to be pretty good, so it's going to be a lot of fun."
The Raiders offense and particularly the wide receivers feel up to the test. "I know we're definitely looking forward to it," said Hagan. "Obviously, it's a challenge. You definitely want to play against the best and it's going to be a fight out there for four quarters and definitely looking forward to it. We have to come prepared and make sure we do the right things and hopefully we come out with a victory."
WR Denarius Moore had a breakout game against the Bills last week, in which he had 171 total yards and one touchdown, and is not viewing Revis and Cromartie any different than any other cornerbacks. "Like any other DB that's coming in, we watch film, see what their techniques are, see what they like to do and compete against them on Sunday," said Moore.
The sentiment in the Raiders locker room is to just go out and play Raiders football. "We're just going to be confident in our abilities and go out there and play football," said WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. "We can't be intimidated by anybody and what they've done in the past. We just have to go out there and make plays."
Rookie G Stefen Wisniewski is excited to face off with the Jets defense. "Absolutely looking forward to it," said Wisniewski. "Any time you go against one of the best defenses in the league, as an offense, you're excited because that's when you find out what you're made of. They've got great players everywhere and when they get you in 3rd and long they like to throw all kinds of crazy looks at you and we've been working our butts off to try to be ready to pick up all those things."
The offense is not looking to change their style of play based on the reputation of the Jets defense. "[We're going to play] just the same way we always do," said FB Marcel Reece. "Everyone knows we can run the ball and that's what we're always going to do. There's no doubt about the way we can run the ball. We're not going to change anything because it's the Jets. We're just going to do what we do and try to execute."
The Jets, led by Head Coach Rex Ryan, know they'll be facing a vastly different Raiders team than the one two years ago, including the addition of DE Richard Seymour. "I think that Richard Seymour is playing outstanding I can tell you that much and he obviously knows the system and everything else," said Coach Ryan. "I think he's been absolutely fantastic. They have the size, speed and, in the back, it's an offense that features the running back and a vertical passing game as everybody knows, but they're really doing a good job and their running back has a lot of speed."
Both Coach Ryan and Revis are impressed with the Raiders starting quarterback. "I've played against Jason before when he was at the Redskins and he's a great quarterback he can make all the throws," said Revis. "He's got a strong arm he can throw the ball probably like 100 yards. He's got a big arm and he can make plays outside the pocket as well. I've got high respect for Jason Campbell."
"I see a guy that's got a bazooka for an arm, he can make all the throws," said Coach Ryan about Campbell. "I remember going to his workout at Auburn and he was sitting there on a knee and threw the ball like 60 yards. He's got that kind of arm talent. He's got mobility and now he's been in the league a long time so I think this is probably the best I've seen Jason Campbell."
Coach Ryan and Revis were also impressed with Moore. "I'll tell you he had a huge game this past week about 150 yards receiving and a reverse for 25 yards he really did a nice job," said Coach Ryan. "That catch he made in double coverage against Buffalo was big time."
The Raiders and the Jets, both with numerous offensive and defensive playmakers, will battle this Sunday in sold out O.co Coliseum. "I'm really looking forward to the fans being out there and winning this game and being part of something special this season," said Heyward-Bey.