The Oakland Raiders face the Jacksonville Jaguars in the Raiders home opener at O.co Coliseum in Week 2 action. Both teams came out of Week 1 with an 0-1 record and are looking for a win. The Coliseum is sold out and the Raiders are looking forward to their first regular season action at home.
"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," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "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."
The Raiders want to start quickly against the Jaguars after falling behind 14-0 in the first half of last week's game against the Colts. Although the Silver and Black launched a comeback, the team does not want to have to fight back from behind again.
Although Jacksonville lost 28-2 to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, Coach Allen knows the Jaguars present challenges on both sides of the ball. "This is a big game for us. We have to come out and compete. We have to come out and challenge," said Coach Allen. "This opponent presents some challenges. I think they're a big, physical defense that runs around fast to the football. Offensively, they try to spread you out and up-tempo you. And so we have to be able to handle the up-tempo of their offense. And then in the kicking game, I think they have two exceptional specialists in their punter and their placekicker. It's a big challenge for us."
The Jaguars' Week 1 starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, will miss Week 2 with a hand laceration; QB Chad Henne will take his place. "I think he's a solid quarterback. He's a veteran," said Coach Allen. "There's not many things you're going to be able to show him that he hasn't seen before. We're going to have to be good in coverage. We're going to have to be good with some of our looks. And we're going to have to be good in our space plays."
DE Lamarr Houston does not believe the Raiders defense will need to shift their style of play too much based on the quarterback. "[Henne's] a little less mobile and so we're going to have to get after him and try to get him to run out of the pocket, flush him out," said Houston.
Clearly Houston is paying attention to defensive coordinator Jason Tarver, who also said the Raiders defensive game plan would remain nearly the same. "Well we saw them both last year and the offense doesn't change much when either one's in there," explained Coach Tarver. "They both are NFL-caliber, arm, movement, mindset. They're both NFL caliber starters that need more of an opportunity to become that, so really it doesn't affect us much in our game plan."
The Jaguars backfield is led by RB Maurice Jones-Drew. "Everyone knows who Maurice Jones-Drew is and he's just an established back," said LB Kaluka Maiava. "He can do it all. He can run downhill, he can hit the perimeter, he can catch the ball. That whole backfield, that whole room, is just a bunch of threats so we have to be ready for it. We've been studying for them, preparing for them, and hopefully execute the game plan and turns out our way Sunday."
Jacksonville has rookie offensive lineman Luke Joeckel, selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, blocking for Jones-Drew and Henne. "He's a rookie, so you have to work him and he's a first-round draft pick so you have to see what he's got," said Houston, one of the Raiders captains. "[The offensive linemen are] very athletic so they're good with their feet. They're quick. It's going to be up to the D-linemen to change our rush plans to match their technique."
The Raiders defense, after a slow start in Indianapolis, came together to hold the Colts to seven points in the second half. Maiava was impressed with the team's ability to fight back. "I was proud to be on this team seeing what I saw because, like Khalif Barnes mentioned today, we were down 14-0 and no one even blinked," said Maiava. "We weren't out of the game and I love to see that, our team came together. I think we played a solid game. We let it slip away, but we're going to execute this weekend."
While the Raiders defense works to keep Jacksonville off the board, the Silver and Black attack will once again be led by third-year QB Terrelle Pryor. The young quarterback rushed for 112 yards and threw for another 217 in his first starting appearance of the 2013 season.
Pryor hopes to improve this week and help his team get a win. "I'm going to study my butt off, get the guys ready and in there to study the film so they understand their jobs, and I'm just going to react off of what the defense does," said Pryor.
The Raiders quarterback is looking forward to using the energy of the home crowd. "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," said Pryor.
Coach Allen wants Pryor to stay within himself, stay focused, for his first home start of his career. "I'm sure he's going to be real excited about playing in front of the home crowd as all of us will, but every play he's got a way that it's supposed to be executed," said Coach Allen. "That's the big thing is that he plays within himself, doesn't try to do too much, plays within the scheme of the offense, and lets the plays come to him. He's got plenty of athletic ability. He'll have the ability to create at times, but you don't want him to try to do too much."
Pryor will have the same offensive line in front of him to give him time to make plays. "You're almost like adding a playmaker back there in the backfield," said G Mike Brisiel. "You've got a great running back and then you add another running threat back there and it just keeps defenses honest. If something breaks down in the pocket, shoot, you saw last game, he's always a threat to get outside the pocket and do his thing so it's fun."
The offense will be playing a much different offense than they saw last year when offensive coordinator Greg Olson was the Jaguars assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach. "Certainly defensively—they're running the scheme that Gus Bradley ran in Seattle," said Coach Olson. "It's a completely different defensive scheme than what Mel Tucker ran."
The offense expects to be challenged by the Jaguars defense. "Tough, quick defense. They've got a solid player in [LB Paul] Posluszny," said TE Jeron Mastrud, who got wide open for a 41-yard catch against the Colts. "He's been a solid guy in the league for years now. We're looking to control him and not let him make a bunch of tackles on us."
Mastrud has been able to make plays for the Raiders partly because of his knowledge of the offense. "Our coaches talked this week about everyone having a quarterback mindset and the quarterback has to know what everyone does. Just knowing what everyone is doing and knowing exactly what's going on allows me to do my job easier because then I can just focus on what the defense is doing rather than worry about what I'm doing," explained Mastrud. "When you're thinking about what you're doing, it just creates stress and doubt and you don't play as fast."
The Raiders anticipate a Jacksonville team hungry for their first win. "They're a young team. We're both 0-1; I expect them to come out aggressive," said Brisiel. "They have something to prove and so do we. Everybody is going to be fighting for that first victory so it's going to be a tough game. We just have to come out prepared."
No matter who the opponent is, the Raiders look forward to playing in front of Raider Nation. "I hope they're in there amped up. I'll have a lot of family coming down so I'm excited. I know they're excited and I'm hoping the fans are just as excited to come out and watch us get a win," said Mastrud.