|Can Geno Smith get the ship righted today against the Raiders? Photo from nydailynews.com|
Raiders: G Mike Brisiel (ankle/knee), LB Kaluka Maivia (ribs/calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle/knee), FS Usama Young (neck)
Raiders: SS Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion)
Jets: WR Stephen Hill (knee)
Raiders: DE Jason Hunter (foot), T Menelik Watson (illness)
Jets: I'm not falling for your shenanigans Rex Ryan.
I mentioned this in my Jets season preview, but let me start off with an anecdote. My birthday is December 10, and for my eighth birthday gift, my parents took me to my first football game on December 11, 2005. Just like this year on the week of my birthday, the matchup happened to be Raiders at Jets. The Raiders came into New Jersey at 4-8, while the Jets disastrous 2005 season was sitting at 2-10 coming into this juggernaut of a Week 14 game. By this point, the Jets had played five different quarterbacks. Both Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler were hurt in Week 3 against Jacksonville. That week, they went out and signed former Jets quarterback Vinny Testsaverde. Then, as the third stringer, they got current Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury. Obviously Testaverde was just sitting on his couch, so they couldn't start him immediately, so they went with Brooks Bollinger. Testaverde started in Week 5, before, naturally injuring his ACL in Week 7. Outside of random appearances by Testaverde and Kingsbury, Bollinger was the starter for pretty much the rest of the year.
As for the Raiders, they were a lot more stable at the quarterback position. Their starter was the very underrated Kerry Collins, but after starting off the season well, he played so poorly that he was benched for this one Week 14 game. So who ended up starting for the Raiders in the first football game on my young life? Marques Tuiasosopo. Yes. The same guy who was in the news this week for being named the interim coach at the University of Washington. My parents pulled off the legendary feat of snagging tickets to this barn burner, that featured the first of two wins of Bollinger's storied career, and the second and final start for Tuiasosopo. In that game, Tuiasosopo also threw the first touchdown pass of his career. Please, keep saying Marques Tuiasosopo out loud, I know you're enjoying it as much as I am. By the way, the Jets went on to win 26-10.
So why did I write all of that? Other than needing an excuse for typing Marques Tuiasosopo repeatedly, there are a lot of similarities between the two games. Well, first of all, it's Week 14 again, and the week of my birthday, and this same matchup is on the horizon. The most disturbing similarity is that in eight years, when I'm turning twenty-four and the Raiders visit the Jets in Week 14, I might have to write about this quarterback matchup in the same way I talked about Tuiasosopo-Bollinger.
Despite being benching for Matt Simms during the second half of last week's game, Geno Smith will be the starting quarterback for the Jets today. Here's the thing, it looks like a lack of confidence with him rather than a lack of talent. I don't want Geno Smith to have Josh Freeman syndrome. The reason why I stuck with Freeman for so long is because he was so good, but all of a sudden looked like he forgot how to play quarterback. And I believed that's something than can be fixed. It turns out, at least in his case, that once it happens, it's hard to stop the ball from rolling. I like him, I think he can be a successful player in the NFL. But as of now, nothing is going right for him. I must say, however, that this situation is being handled better than in Tampa Bay, because Rex Ryan is showing confidence in his guy, contrary to when Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers launched a vicious smear campaign against Josh Freeman. At the same time, having confidence in Smith is fine, but the question is whether or not he has confidence in himself. If Smith starts off well, that's a great sign, and he should probably be left in there for the whole game, even if he starts to struggle a bit. But, if Geno Smith starts launching passes outside of a five yard radius of his receivers, repeatedly, then Rex Ryan should have a quick hook and throw in Matt Simms. That may cost the Jets this game, but for the future, it's a necessary evil.
On the Raiders side of the ball, Matt McGloin has looked competent in his time as the starter, having supplanted Terrelle Pryor due to injury. Don't be fooled though, because as soon as McGloin hits a rough patch, Pryor will step back into the starting role. McGloin is really at a loss for weapons, with Denarius Moore and Darren McFadden out, and Rashad Jennings questionable. Even if Jennings plays, as with every running back facing the Jets, he will be shut down. That will mean that McGloin will have to beat the Jets through the air. Now, that hasn't exactly been hard to do with Dee Milliner and Antonio Cromartie playing poorly all year, but again, it's Matt McGloin. At the same time, the Jets are really susceptible to big plays, which means that Jacoby Ford and Rod Streater will have chances to break some very long touchdowns.
So, despite the possibility of Geno Smith having an awful game, I'm sticking with the Jets here because I think he'll play better after his coach exhibited even more confidence in him this week, and because I think that Matt Simms can lead the Jets to victory if Smith needs to come out of the game.
Let's just hope that Geno Smith doesn't end up like Josh Freeman, or even worse, Brooks Bollinger.
JETS (-2.5) over Raiders.
Jets 28, Raiders 17