Matchups to Watch: Oakland Raiders at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Oakland Raiders hope to get back on track in Week 6 on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Here are four matchups to watch.
Jack Del Rio will be on the opposing sideline of very familiar territory, as he coached the Jaguars for 8 seasons, from 2003-2011.
JDR won’t be the only individual facing his former team, as Jags offensive coordinator Greg Olson held that same position in Oakland in 2013 and 2014.
The Raiders are hoping to bounce back after an ugly loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Here are four individual matchups to watch.
Reggie Nelson vs. Blake Bortles
Reggie Nelson was added to this defense in part because of his ability to force turnovers, he was tied for first in the league in interceptions last season and the vet has a knack for finding the ball. Nelson only has one interception this season, but that could change this weekend.
Blake Bortles was a member of the same QB draft class that yielded Derek Carr, and now it looks like the Jags likely should have picked the young gunslinger from Fresno State. In Bortles’ time in the league, he has recorded 41 interceptions and 22 fumbles (he lost 7).
Bortles is a turnover machine, and if anyone can cause turnovers on this defense it is Reggie Nelson. Although he only has 1 interception, he has been close to many.
Look for the vet to bait some bad throws from the young QB. I would be surprised if the Raiders secondary doesn’t come away with at least one interception.
Ken Norton Jr. vs. Greg Olson
Ken Norton Jr’s defense features playmakers at every level, including a franchise edge rusher and long, highly-paid CBs. His unit has not nearly lived up to the talent.
The Raiders defense is last in the league as far as yards given up by a large margin (over 25 yards per game from #31). The team is also ranked dead last in passing yards allowed per game and 30th in rushing yards allowed per game.
Greg Olson is in a similar situation, fielding an offense with a ton of talent, including one of the best young WRs in the game in Allen Robinson as well as a highly-paid TE. The offense, on paper, should be ranked much better than 29th in the league. Olson, a former OC for the Raiders, is struggling with the Jags just as he did in Oakland.
The Raiders have yielded some bad units in the past few seasons, but Olson’s offense from a couple of seasons ago and Norton’s defense this season are likely at or near the top of the list for underperforming units. One coach will have to step up and get more out of their talented unit. Raider fans can only hope that it will be Kenny.
David Amerson vs. Allen Robinson
Amerson has been one of the more productive NFL CBs since joining the Raiders. His length and fit in the scheme have revived his career and his great play earned him a new contract this offseason.
However, Amerson has been spotty this season, but it is almost to be expected with how poorly this unit as a whole has performed.
Allen Robinson, as mentioned earlier, is one of the best young WRs in the game today. at 6’3” Robinson is a matchup nightmare for most cornerbacks, with great route-running and athletic ability. His numbers are uncharacteristically low — probably the Greg Olson effect — but the poor play of Blake Bortles factors in as well.
Despite Robinson’s frame, Amerson is one of only a handful of CBs that matches up well with him. Both are long and athletic and it should be a good matchup overall. Amerson is the inferior athlete and will likely get burned a couple of times but it should be fun to see these two battle it out.
Seth Roberts vs. Davon House
Seth Roberts is a phenomenal complement to the dynamic duo of Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. Roberts has already hauled in 3 TD receptions this season, a great number for a third WR. Derek Carr loves to spread the ball around and Roberts has a knack for getting open. Roberts’ numbers would be even better if he didn’t drop so many passes.
Davon House recently stated that he has been demoted to the team’s “Nickel” CB. This means that when Jacksonville takes a DL or LB off the field to bring on another CB it will be House. The nickel CB often covers the slot WR, which is where Roberts gets a lot of his snaps. House will be replaced on the outside by Dwayne Gratz.
The transition from outside CB to slot CB is much more different than most would expect. The spacing, responsibilities and angles are all very different.
Should Roberts line up often in the slot against House it could make for a tough matchup for the Jags secondary. In my study of the Jaguars defense, there are often instances of leaving the middle of the field open against spread looks. If this happens and Roberts is matched one on one, he could eat on Sunday.