The Oakland Raiders defense came out against a good Indianapolis Colts offense and looked improved. Improvement is consistent progression so the Raiders cannot take the Jacksonville Jaguars for granted and lay an egg. They are not a good enough unit to think they can show up and win. They have to play with the same effort and energy and make a statement against a bad offense.
The Jaguars will start Chad Henne in place of Blaine Gabbert this Sunday. Gabbert suffered a laceration of his hand and has been ruled out. Henne had 11 interceptions and two lost fumbles in six starts and 10 appearances last season. The Raiders have struggled to create turnovers on defense. Charles Woodson, Tyvon Branch, Tracy Porter, DJ Hayden, and Mike Jenkins must take advantage of Henne's misses and make him pay. If they allow Henne to get away with those mistakes, he has the ability to make them pay. Gabbert is a bad quarterback and Henne is not Peyton Manning, who the Raiders will see the next week, so the Raiders have to show they have the chops to be a solid defense and dominate.
Last week against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Jags were only able to account for 178 total yards. They were the worst passing team in the NFL in week one with a pathetic 107 yards. Gabbert threw the ball 35 times to gain 121 yards and was sacked six times. Henne replaced Gabbert and hit 3-6 for 36 yards. They have serious problems moving the football with 14 of their 15 drives goings for less than 26 yards. Four drives went for negative yardage. They scored zero points on offense and finished with only two from a punt block safety.
Jacksonville has struggled in their passing game for several years and their offense focus will be keeping it on the ground with running back Maurice Jones-Drew. He was injured in the Raiders 26-23 overtime with last season. Despite wanting to primarily move the ball on the ground, the Jaguars only managed 71 yards in week one with a 3.1 yards per carry average. Jones-Drew rushed 15 times for 45 yards. He still has some skills so the Raiders have to be careful not to let him get off to a good start and gain confidence. The defense will look to load the box and force Henne to make tough throws under pressure.
The Raiders' defense isn't the 1985 Chicago Bears, but they have an opportunity to gain some confidence this week against an offense really struggling. With so many new pieces, the defense played well together in the season opener. The next step is to capitalize on this match-up and come away with a convincing win.
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