Hue Jackson will start his NFL head coaching career on one of the biggest stages possible, Monday Night Football, playing against one of the Raiders biggest rivals, the Denver Broncos.
However, despite such a huge stage, if things go right, Jackson may not have to do a whole lot from the offensive standpoint.
In his first year as the Raiders offensive coordinator last season, Jackson was known for scripting a significant part of his offensive playcalling before the game started. In preparation for his debut as the head coach, Jackson did not part from this strategy.
In fact, Jackson noted that he could very well script enough plays to get him through the entire first half of the season opener in Denver.
Now, as the game progresses, Jackson will be prepared to alter his game plan if necessary. However, despite how the game goes and whether or not he sticks to his plan, there are two things that can almost certainly be expected from the first year head coach and second year play caller.
First, the Broncos can expect a heavy does of running back Darren McFadden. Last season, Denver ranked second to last in run defense and the Raiders, who ranked second best in rushing offense, will look to attack that weakness.
Second, expect Jackson to take a couple of deep shots early in the game. Despite being without one of the Raiders speedy wide receivers in Louis Murphy, the Raiders still have plenty of speed available in the passing game. I fully expect a deep pass targeting either Jacoby Ford, Marcel Reece, Denarius Moore or Darrius Heyward Bey (in that order of likeliness) in the Raiders first offensive series.
If they are able to connect on their first deep pass, look for the Raiders to keep going back to the well until the Broncos show they can stop the deep ball.
It will be interesting to see how well Jackson’s scripted plays go. If the Raiders struggle to find success on their first couple of drives, Jackson might need to ditch his scripting plan rather quickly.
On the other hand, if they find success on their firs few drives, it could lead to another blowout, in which case, Jackson may find that he has not scripted nearly enough plays to get the Raiders through the first half.