Adam Gase, Jon Gruden
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

The New York Jets will play the Oakland Raiders for the first time in two years and ESNY’s Michael Nania has everything you need to know.

Michael Nania

Following back-to-back games against NFC East opponents in Weeks  10 and 11, the New York Jets will be facing intra-conference foes in each of the final six weeks of the season.

That stretch begins with a MetLife Stadium showdown against the Oakland Raiders, who will be visiting the Jets for the first time since 2014.

The regular season continues to inch closer, and as it does, our 2019 Jets opponent preview series moves onward. Let’s take a dive into the offseason of the Raiders.


Sept. 7, 2014 (Week 1): Raiders 14 @ Jets 19

Oakland’s last visit to the Meadowlands came back in 2014, as they met up with the Jets on opening week.

Geno Smith was the starting quarterback for the Jets, entering his second season with high expectations after winning eight games in his rookie year.

The Raiders were led by Derek Carr, who was making his NFL debut after being selected 36th overall in the second round of that year’s draft.

It was a grueling affair, but the Jets came out on top, by a fittingly-ugly score of 19-14. The newly-signed Chris Johnson caught a touchdown pass from Geno Smith in his Jets debut, while Chris Ivory sealed the game late with a 71-yard touchdown run.

Smith would complete 23 of 28 passes for 221 yards, one touchdown, and one interception, generating a 96.6 passer rating. At the time, it was a new career-high, and it currently stands as his fourth-best mark as a starter. His 82% completion rate in the game remains his best as a starting quarterback.

Nov. 1, 2015 (Week 8): Jets 20 @ Raiders 34

The two teams would meet up again the following season, flipping home-field. Oakland played host to the Jets for the first time since 2011.

Coming off of a loss to the Patriots in New England, the Jets were 4-2 and looking to rebound in order to stay near the top of the AFC early in the season. The Raiders entered the game 3-3, looking to get back above .500 and put themselves squarely in the AFC Wild Card picture.

Unfortunately, Gang Green’s 2015 trip to the Coliseum was a disaster.

The Jets kicked off the game with a 13-play, nearly-eight minute long drive, but it only culminated in a field goal. More importantly, Ryan Fitzpatrick left the game due to injury, tossing Geno Smith into the game for his first action of the season.

From then on, it was all Raiders. Oakland scored a touchdown on its first three drives, taking an early 21-3 lead.

The Jets responded with back-to-back three and outs, followed by a first-play interception from Smith.

Oakland would eventually pull away with a 28-6 third-quarter lead. Smith threw a touchdown pass to Eric Decker that cut the lead to 15, but the Raiders sealed the deal with back-to-back Sebastian Janikowski field goals that put them up 31-13.

Smith wound up with a decent stat line, completing 27 of 42 passes for 265 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception, mustering a passer rating of 87.9. It would be his last regular-season action for the Jets until Week 6 of 2016.

Sept. 17, 2017 (Week 2): Jets 20 @ Raiders 45

The Jets’ 2017 trip out to the Bay Area was more the same.

After entering the season with astoundingly low expectations, the Jets kicked off their season with an ugly 21-12 loss to the Bills, looking lethargic on offense.

A trip out to Oakland to take on the Raiders, who at the time were 13-4 in their past 17 regular-season games, was hardly the break that New York needed.

To the surprise of few, the Raiders obliterated the Jets.

Oakland jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on the strength of two Michael Crabtree touchdown passes. The Jets would respond with 10 unanswered points, six of those coming on Josh McCown‘s first touchdown pass as a Jet, a 34-yard bomb to Jermaine Kearse.

Late in the second quarter, the Jets were still around, only trailing 14-10.

Oakland would pull ahead by a score of 21-10 going into the half, as with under a minute to go, Marshawn Lynch scored his first touchdown in silver and black.

The second half was all Oakland, as they outscored the Jets 24-10 and won the game by a final score of 45-20.

The teams went in opposite directions following this game. The Jets won their next three games, but wound up at 5-11.

The Raiders lost their next four games, a stretch that would mark the beginning of a downward spiral. Oakland finished 6-10, a highly disappointing mark after their 12-win season a year prior.


Key Additions:

Antonio Brown, Wide Receiver (Trade: Pittsburgh) — You may have heard about this man in the news recently. Antonio Brown is an Oakland Raider, as the Steelers, fed up with his drama, sent him packing to Oakland in exchange for a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick in 2019.

Brown may be 31 years old, but he should still have a lot left in the tank. He led the league with 15 touchdown receptions last season, a new career-high.

Over his career, Brown has averaged 86.2 receiving yards per game, which stands as the fourth-best average of all time. Since 2013, he has averaged an absurd 99.4 receiving yards per game.

Tyrell Williams, Wide Receiver (FA: LA Chargers) — Brown wasn’t the only big addition made to Oakland’s wide receiver room. They also added premier deep threat Tyrell Williams, formerly of the Chargers. He has averaged 9.8 yards per target in his career, which ranks as the fifth-best mark in the NFL among players with at least 200 targets since 2015.

Trent Brown, Left Tackle (FA: New England) — After struggling up front last season, the Raiders went big and handed out a four-year, $66 million mega-deal to former Patriots left tackle Trent Brown. The 6-foot-8, 330-pound beast broke out as one of the league’s elite offensive linemen in his lone season under Bill Belichick and Dante Scarnecchia in New England.

Key Losses:

Donald Penn, Right Tackle (Released) — Penn had been Oakland’s right tackle since 2013, but the longtime stalwart had begun breaking down. After never missing a game over his first ten seasons in the NFL, Penn missed two games in 2017. He then played in only four in 2018. At 36 years old, he was cut by the Raiders and is now a member of the Washington Redskins. Penn was a high-quality player for the Raiders, ranking among the best tackles in the league for much of his time there.

Kelechi Osemele, Left Guard (Trade: NY Jets) — For one starter on the Jets offense, the matchup with the Raiders will be a revenge game. That would be Kelechi Osemele. The Raiders decided to move on from Osemele after he spent three seasons with the team, starting 43 games at left guard. At his peak, Osemele was one of the best guards in the NFL, but he battled injuries and took a step backward in 2018.

Jared Cook, Tight End (FA: New Orleans) — At 31 years old, Cook had a career year for the Raiders in 2018. He set new career bests with 68 catches for 896 yards and six touchdowns. Among tight ends, he ranked fourth in receiving yards, fourth in touchdown receptions, and fifth in total receptions.


Need to maintain: Nothing

The Raiders … were not good last year. They were outscored by 177 points, an average of 11.1 per game, giving them the second-worst net margin in the entire league. Only the Cardinals (minus-200, minus-12.5) were worse.

When you look across the board, the Raiders failed to check in at above-average in any meaningful category on offense or defense.

Even their special teams unit struggled, for the most part, checking in at 22nd in overall DVOA.

However, the Raiders did rank fourth in punt return average, at 11.6. That was thanks to Dwayne Harris, who ranked second in the league in punt return average with a sparkling mark of 14.1. He remains with the team, so Oakland is hoping he can replicate that success.

So I guess the 2018 Raiders did have that going for them!

Need to improve: Everything

As previously mentioned, the Raiders were bad last year. Very bad. There is almost nothing they did last year that they would want to find themselves doing again, which is obviously why they made so many drastic changes throughout this past offseason.

The Raiders last season:

  • 28th in points per drive on offense and 32nd in points per drive allowed
  • 22nd in fewest turnovers and 22nd in takeaways
  • 23rd in rushing yards per attempt and 22nd in rushing yards per attempt allowed
  • 19th in net yards per pass attempt and 32nd in net yards per pass attempt allowed
  • 22nd in red zone touchdown rate and 18th in red zone touchdown rate allowed
  • 19th in third-down conversion rate and 30th in third-down conversion rate allowed
  • 25th in sack rate allowed and 32nd in sack rate on defense

In all of these major categories, the Raiders failed to come out in the top half of a single one.

It’s safe to say that Jon Gruden and new general manager Mike Mayock have a lot of things they’ll be looking to see improved this season. And Oakland does have the talent to make those strides.

Expectations are high, and in time, we will see if the Hard Knocks-featured Raiders can live up to them.