Even as the Raiders pushed through several seasons of rebuilding, the Black Hole continued to provide a home-field advantage. Since reaching the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season, the Raiders have won only 38 regular-season games, but 24 of those have come in Oakland.
And this year they've opened 1-1 after coming off an unexpected 8-8 season where they posted an undefeated 6-0 record within the AFC West and are making waves with their youthful, energetic offense.
The raucous atmosphere at O.co Coliseum coupled with the maturing weapons present a difficult task for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and the Jets defense.
"You can't get the ball thrown over your head," said Pettine. "If you think you're deep enough, get deeper. They establish the run, and the next thing you know they're running a double move on top. From a skill position standpoint, it's a formidable group."
The Raiders offense begins and ends with RB Darren McFadden. The fourth-year back is the leading rusher and receiver for Oakland, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 9.6 per reception. At 6'2", he is a a large back with exceptional speed. Pettine wants to make sure the Jets limit his chances to catch the ball on a screen and find open running space.
"The key to defending the screen is stopping it before it starts," he said during his media briefing Thursday. "The big thing is the defensive linemen — the ability to recognize the screen, set an edge, force the ball back inside, and get a hit on him."
Taking snaps for the Silver & Black is QB Jason Campbell, the seventh-year veteran now in his second year with the Raiders. With a 99.7 passer rating that is fifth in the AFC and 10th in the league, Campbell has grown comfortable in the Oakland offense and boasts impressive arm strength.
Now with former quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson as head coach, the Raiders are becoming difficult to stop through the air. Despite the improved play of Campbell and the addition of Jackson, Pettine sees a potential weakness.
"Hue is very creative. What he does a really good job of is getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers. He wants to take advantage of that speed, and not just vertically," the coordinator said. "The one flaw that Campbell has is that he can be careless with the ball in some situations."
Pettine made it clear that the defensive focus will be on slowing McFadden and taking advantage of Campbell's gunslinger mentality. It would certainly help the Jets, who already have seven takeaways on the season, if they were able to steal a few possessions away from the Raiders in Oakland.
Offensive Consistency the Key
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said he would like to see his unit be more consistent starting out Sunday.
"I think we're a little bit inconsistent. Moving forward, the big goal this week is to be more consistent," Schottenheimer said. "We'll do something that doesn't make sense, then do a lot of really good things."
Thus far, 77 percent of the yards gained by the Jets offense has come through the air. With the man-to-man defensive tradition of the Raiders, Schottenheimer believes QB Mark Sanchez and his corps of receivers could be poised for another big day.
"The Raiders are the Raiders — deep safety, man-to-man. We have some guys that we feel good about when they're in single coverage," he said.
Schottenheimer addressed C Colin Baxter, who will potentially make his first career start. Although Baxter is a rookie who has been a Jet for less than a month, Schottenheimer believes he's one cool customer.
"There won't be a ton of adjusting," said Coach Schotty. "We go in with a game plan, and if we need to, we'll adjust. We're going to lean on the guys around him."