Jacksonville, Fla. -- Each week, I'm going to try to bring a statistical outlook to the Jaguars and their upcoming opponent. The Jaguars are on the road in Oakland to battle the Raiders.
Jaguars Record: 1-4
Offensive DVOA: 29th
Defensive DVOA: 30th
Turnover Differential: -2
The offense took a big hit after the horrendous showing in the second half against the Bears two weeks ago. The Jaguars bye week couldn't have come at a better time for Mike Mularkey and this team. The Jaguars sit 1.5 games out of playoff position and need a big win to get momentum heading in the right direction. Getting players healthy during the bye was crucial for both the offense and defense. The offensive line played better with every one back against the Bears, and an added week of rest will certainly help this unit gel into a more cohesive unit. Daryl Smith and John Chick are the two players who could definitely help this defense the most by returning soon. Chick could have the biggest impact for the struggling unit as a year ago he recorded 2.5 sacks in limited playing time.
For the offense to gain any sort of momentum Gabbert, Blackmon and Jones-Drew must step up their play. Jones-Drew is coming off his two worst games of the season and needs to prove he's still capable of being the lead back. This outing will be tough for him to prove it in as the Raiders are very stingy against the run yielding just 4.1 yards per carry. The Raiders really struggle defending the pass and this could be a huge game for Gabbert and his favorite receiver, Justin Blackmon. Blackmon looked like a different receiver against the Bengals and in the first half against the Bears, he will need that same approach in this game. The Jaguars line should comfortably protect Gabbert against the anemic Raiders pass rush and allow him to have time and find his open receiver.
Defensively the Jaguars are a mess. They are struggling stopping the run and the pass. The Jaguars are giving up 261 pass yards a game (23rd)and a pass rush must be found soon. The return of Derek Cox has helped the secondary but the failings on the line is causing the secondary to have to cover for too long on passing routes. The rush defense has been worse giving up 163 yards per game (30th). The line is again failing to occupy blockers and help clog rushing lanes with the linebackers.
Raiders Record: 1-4
Offensive DVOA: 14th
Defensive DVOA: 25th
Turnover Differential: 0
The offense for the Raiders begins and ends with Darren McFadden. He is getting 21 touches a game and has big play ability. The Raiders line is not overly strong but one isn't needed to create space for McFadden to burst through. He's a big physical back with blazing speed that will test the front seven. The passing attack is slightly more difficult to defend. The reason is lack of top end talent.
The Raiders don't have that "number-one" type receiver you have to shut down, but a unit that is quite effective at coming down with passes. This offense likes to the spread the ball around with 6 receivers having over 20 targets each from Carson Palmer. Palmer incidently also likes sharing the defense as he carries a 3.1% interception rate into the contest. Look for the Jaguars to try and jump the short out routes. Palmer's most effective target has been TE Brandon Myers. He's a heavy receiver who has caught 21 of the 24 passes thrown his way with 4 that went for over 20 yards. Paul Posluszny is going to have his hands full in the middle of the field against this offense.
Defensively, the Raiders don't do anything particularly strong. It's a unit that's better at defending the run then the pass. The reason is the same as the Jaguars an anemic pass rush. The Raiders have only 4 sacks on the season. Matt Shaughnessy leads the team with 2.5 sacks and is there most effective weapon. As long as the Jaguars can keep him out of Gabbert's face, the Jaguars receivers should find plenty of space to run against this secondary.
The Jaguars have got to get the offense pointed in the right direction in this game. I believe that will start with a concerted effort to kick start the offense from the inside out. Jones-Drew and Jennings must be used a lot and Marcedes Lewis needs 5 to 8 targets to help this offense get rolling.