If we learned anything from Week 1 it's this; Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch doesn't look like he's missed a step after his year away from the field, the defense showed improvement, and quarterback Derek Carr was meticulous when surveying the field against the Tennessee Titans.
The battle between Carr and Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was one matchup a lot of people had their eye on, as well as how Raiders second-year safety Karl Joseph would fair against established veteran tight end Delanie Walker.
While Sunday's 26-16 victory was a joyous occasion for the members of the Silver and Black, it's now in the rearview mirror, and all eyes are on this weekend's bout with the New York Jets. Don't let this matchup fool you, the Jets might not be an offensive powerhouse, but they have plenty of young talent worth taking a look at.
Here are three matchups I'll have my eye on this Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Running Back Marshawn Lynch vs. Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Williams was a highly-touted prospect coming out of USC, and for good reason. In three years as a Trojan, the 6'5", 300-pound defensive tackle totaled 218 tackles, 35.5 for loss, 20 sacks, two interceptions, and four forced fumbles. Those numbers led to him being selected sixth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Jets, and as he gets going in Year Three, he's still very much in the maturation process.
In two years at the pro level, Williams has an average Pro Football Focus grade of 87.05, which ranks among the best in his position group for that time span. As mentioned previously, Lynch had a strong outing in his first game, and if there's one thing Williams should take away from his performance it's that "Beast Mode" is not afraid to bulldoze a 300-pound defensive lineman, just ask Jurrell Casey.
On 18 carries, No. 24 rushed for 76 yards, good for 4.2 yards per carry, and added a 16-yard reception. In 2016, the Jets defense ranked 11th overall, and also ranked 11th against the run. For the Jets to find success in stopping a potent Raiders rushing attack, they'll need Williams to step up. I look forward to hearing some helmets crack in the trenches this weekend.
Tight End Jared Cook vs. Safety Jamal Adams
As Raiders.com Senior Writer Eddie Paskal pointed out last week, the matchup between Joseph and Walker was on the watch list. The safety/tight end position battle is always a noteworthy one, no matter who's playing. Part of what makes Raiders tight end Jared Cook so special is his ability to create mismatches, which can be bothersome for opposing defenders.
This Sunday, Jets rookie Jamal Adams will most likely be the one tasked with limiting the big 6'5", 254-pound tight end. In the Jets first game of the season, Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay found paydirt against the Jets secondary, and it's possible Cook could do the same.
In his first official game with Carr, No. 87 caught five passes for 56 yards, and while it didn't show up in the stat sheet, he was an important part of the run blocking as well. All throughout training camp and the preseason, the Raiders signal-caller showed that he's developed quite the rapport with the former University of South Carolina Gamecock.
According to Adams' draft profile, which came out prior to his sixth overall selection, one of his areas of strength is his ability to "handle coverage responsibilities against tight ends." Come Sunday, we'll see how much of the Raiders offense the 21-year-old can handle.
Defensive End Khalil Mack vs. New York Jets Offensive Line
Plain and simple, Khalil Mack is good – if not great – against the run.
Against a run heavy Titans team, and PFF's best rated offensive line in 2016, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year registered the highest PFF edge defender overall rating of Week 1 with a grade of 93.0, and finished with the third best run defense rating of 88.9.
For the Jets offensive line, if they want to get anything humming on the ground, or in the air, they'll have to figure out a way to stop the Raiders defensive end – someone they're rather familiar with.
Mack's NFL debut was against the Jets in 2014, and he finished the outing with six tackles, including two for loss. After getting his toes wet his rookie year, Mack went toe-to-toe with the Jets once again in his second season, and let them feel his presence. The former University of Buffalo Bull tallied six tackles, three for loss, one sack, and one quarterback hit in that game. He's proved to be a sack machine in the past, and for an offensive line that gave up 35 sacks in 2016, they'll have their hands full if Mack is able to get into the backfield.