Two dif­fer­ent van­tage points

Raiders: Big fa­vorites against Jets as Lynch set for Raiders’ home de­but

The Mercury News - - Sports - By Jerry McDon­ald jm­c­don­ald@ba­yare­anews­

Good teams don’t have trap games.

That’s the re­al­ity of what the Raiders face Sun­day when they host the New York Jets in the home opener at the Coli­seum.

As­pire to be in the realm of the New Eng­land Patriots in the AFC or Kansas City Chiefs within the divi­sion, and there is no room for com­ing in flat and over­con­fi­dent when faced with a 13 1/2-point un­der­dog.

Cer­tainly not in front of a home fan base which gets to see home­town hero Mar­shawn Lynch in a reg­u­lar-sea­son game for the first time.

Coach Jack Del Rio has talked of­ten of “the process,” and based on the way the Raiders played in Week 1, his team has been lis­ten­ing.

No amount of in­jury or off-field is­sues through­out the off­sea­son and train­ing camp dis­tracted the Raiders from putting up an ex­tremely fo­cused all-around per­for­mance in Week 1.

“I got asked by the New York me­dia about their team and the point spread,” Del Rio said. “Those things mean noth­ing to us. It’s about play­ing the game, un­der­stand­ing the chal­lenges you face, the strengths and weak-

nesses and go­ing af­ter them and pre­par­ing ac­cord­ingly. That’s what we’re about.”

As for Lynch, he will be play­ing in only his sec­ond reg­u­lar-sea­son game in the Coli­seum — with his first home­com­ing re­sult­ing in one of the worst games of his ca­reer.

On Hal­loween in 2010 with the Seat­tle Sea­hawks, Lynch was hit for losses four times and gained seven yards in nine car­ries in a 33-3 loss to the Raiders.

“Su­per ex­cited to be at home and know­ing Mar­shawn is a home boy,” Del Rio said. “This is his home, like me, grew up here in the East Bay. I know he’s go­ing to have spe­cial feel­ings be­ing out there and it’s go­ing to be great.”

Left tackle Don­ald Penn said the fun-and-free­wheel­ing Lynch dur­ing the week gives way to a more se­ri­ous one on Sun­day.

“Mar­shawn, man, game day, he’s re­ally just a pro­fes­sional,” Penn said. “He’s a real dif­fer­ent per­son. He’s a business man. I know he’s go­ing to be ex­cited. I’m hop­ing we can get him in the end zone in front of his home (fans).”

What to watch for in Week 2: 1. GROUND AND POUND >> Get­ting Penn un­der con­tract means the Raiders have their en­tire of­fen­sive line in the fold through next sea­son.

The kind of power and con­ti­nu­ity gen­eral man­ager Reg­gie McKen­zie has as­sem­bled is the envy of the NFL. Right tackle Mar­shall Ne­w­house, the new­est ac­qui­si­tion, didn’t al­low a pres­sure and likely will get ev­ery snap against the Jets.

While Del Rio talked up the Jets’ front seven, the Jets gave up 190 yards rush­ing to the Buf­falo Bills and LeSean McCoy (110 yards in 22 car­ries) last week. If the Raiders can get to 150 with Lynch, Jalen Richard and DeAn­dre Wash­ing­ton, it sets the stage for some py­rotech­nics with Derek Carr in the pass­ing game.

The Raiders will go as far as their of­fen­sive line car­ries them, and early in­di­ca­tions are it could be a long way. 2. TACK­LING THE OB­VI­OUS >> By Del Rio’s count, the Raiders missed three tack­les against Ten­nessee, a very good start in an area where the de­fense was too of­ten de­fi­cient a year ago.

The Jets have two solid backs in Matt Forte and Bi­lal Pow­ell. Pow­ell in par­tic­u­lar can make peo­ple miss, av­er­ag­ing 5.5 yards per carry a year ago and gain­ing 414 yards af­ter the catch out of the back­field.

The duo was the only set of running backs to each record 1,000 yards from scrim­mage a year ago.

If the front seven can shed blocks, make tack­les and force Josh McCown to pass 40 or more times, well, Raiders fans who re­mem­ber the 2005 sea­son when McCown wore Sil­ver and Black know how that will play out. 3. GAREON CON­LEY’S DE­BUT >> The Raiders’ first-round draft pick has two full prac­tices un­der his belt and faces an ideal op­po­nent in the best pos­si­ble venue for his first NFL game.

If Sean Smith (ques­tion­able with a neck in­jury) can’t play, then Con­ley could get a lot of work. It will be im­por­tant, too, with a game against passhappy Wash­ing­ton loom­ing the fol­low­ing week on the road.

Fans are thirst­ing for a cor­ner­back who can break on the ball and make plays. McKen­zie and the per­son­nel depart­ment are con­fi­dent Con­ley is that man. Mak­ing a play or two would be a boost for the rookie’s con­fi­dence.

4. CARR’S ACCURACY >> The field gen­er­al­ship and running of the of­fense was text­book in Week 1, but the Raiders’ quar­ter­back would be the first to tell you he missed a throw or three.

There was the po­ten­tial touch­down pass to Lynch, lined up out­side, and a throw Carr put be­hind Amari Cooper in the red zone for a tough drop.

Carr put the 19-yard touch­down pass to Seth Roberts in a thim­ble, but he ex­pects to make those throws. The throws he misses are the ones that drive him crazy.

5. SPE­CIAL FORCES >> That’s what Joe Kapp used to call spe­cial teams back in his Cal coach­ing days, and it was an area where the Raiders ex­celled in Week 1 against Ten­nessee.

It was big, too, be­cause the Ti­tans had poached Bryn­den Traw­ick and Daren Bates from the Raiders in pre­sea­son, as well as draft­ing Adoree Jackson.

In­stead, the Raiders plucked Erik Har­ris off the waiver wire, brought back fi­nal cut Xavier Wood­sonLuster, and coach Brad Seely’s unit got the bet­ter of the spe­cial teams in a way that went well be­hind Gior­gio Tavec­chio’s hero­ics.

Now the Raiders could get back Jamize Olawale and pos­si­bly Keith McGill, and a phase that was a ques­tion mark could become an ex­cla­ma­tion point.


In his Raiders de­but, Mar­shawn Lynch runs past Ten­nessee Ti­tans’ line­backer Avery Wil­liamson dur­ing last week’s sea­son-opening win.

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