Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jets roll Raiders, lose another key player for season

This week, the Jets did what most thought they would do last week against Buffalo: bounce back with a big victory against a sad football team. Their 38-0 drubbing of the hapless Raiders proved that the Jets are not quite as bad as they've looked over the past few weeks, but didn't prove much beyond that.

It will still be difficult for the Jets to get back to their early-season success without Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington. Jenkins was lost for the season last week, while Washington broke his fibula against Oakland and was placed on injured reserve.

While the Jets have no legitimate backup for Jenkins, rookie Shonn Greene filled in admirably for Washington, running for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, as the Jets ran for 300 yards for the second straight week.

Greene, however, does not possess the game-breaking ability that Washington does and is nowhere near as proficient catching passes out of the backfield or returning kicks. The loss of Washington will hurt the Jets dearly, especially considering Mark Sanchez will lose a very valuable safety valve. Greene's presence will help soften the blow of losing Washington, but he is a much different player than the diminutive ex-Seminole and a less-effective compliment to the skill set of Thomas Jones.

Back to the game for a quick second, though. Two early turnovers by JaMarcus Russell set the Jets up inside the Raiders' five-yard-line, which New York converted into an early 14-point lead. The Jets proved that they could move the ball as well with their first drive of the second quarter, which went 93 yards and ended in Greene's first career touchdown and a 21-0 lead.

The Jets were able to dominate the Raiders on the ground, running 54 times for 316 yards. Sanchez threw just 15 passes all game, completing nine for 143 yards and two touchdowns (one rushing). Sanchez looked much better in the pocket this week despite being without Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith again and David Clowney made an impact, with four catches for 79 yards and an impressive touchdown grab.

The Jets defense kept the Raiders passing game in check, just like everybody else this season. Russell was pulled in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, whose claim to fame in this game was a 20-yard scramble for a first down, which he emphatically signaled despite a huge deficit (Donnie Avery's ridiculous endzone celebration last week, anybody?). The Raiders ran for 119 yards on just 19 carries, a 6.3-yard average, and the Jets might continue to struggle against the run without Jenkins clogging the middle.

The Jets get a rematch with the Dolphins at home next weekend and come out of their bye with another home tilt against the Jaguars, both of which I will be in attendance for. If I witness two victories (and stopping Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams and Maurice Jones-Drew will be tough with no run defense), the Jets will go into their Week 11 rematch with the Patriots 6-3 with a chance to beat New England for the second time this season and take the tie-breaker.

But if the Jets struggle to stop two teams that rely heavily on the running the football, they could enter that game 4-5 with their season hanging in the balance. Most Jets fans are hoping it won't come to that.

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